Located just east of Columbus, Ohio in the little village of Granville, Denison University (or more accurately “college”, as they offer no graduate degrees since the turn of the century) has been standing since its inception as a Baptist college. In late 1931, John Pratt, a former Brown graduate, created the Granville Literary and Theological Institution, what was once the only Baptist college in the east and one of the first colleges established in the “Northwest Territory”. Now a nonsectarian, private college with liberal arts at its core, this misnomer of a university (it didn’t change to college due to historic reasons) seeks to inspire generations of “active learners”, using small classes and passionate educators who work side by side with students to give a deep education in the sciences, arts, and humanities.
Denison is a far cry from its 37 student first term, now bringing in over 2,000 students, which is just about half the entire population of Granville (hovers around 4,000). In addition, Denison’s commitment to a personal education for each student has led to a fantastic 10:1 student to teacher ratio. These “teacher-scholar-advisors” work with students to create an individualized learning environment based in experiential learning, which leads to the development of independent thinkers/learners without leaving the students to walk their path alone. Educators at Denison are engaged in their students learning on as many levels as possible, using the small, relatively removed campus to create relationships that go beyond the classroom and help individual successes beyond.
While no real distance learning options are available at Denison, this is more likely due to their teaching methods than their lack of technology or funding. With over 45 majors/concentrations offered in everything from Arabic to Psychology, Denison has also allowed for the creation of what they term “interdepartmental majors”, allowing students to work with advisors to blaze their own trail, encouraging them by letting them make decisions about their own education. Denison offers a baccalaureate degree in the Arts, the Fine Arts, and the Sciences, always looking to keep up the same level of education in literature/science as in comparable colleges, something they’ve done since their years as a seminary school.
Denison has distinguished itself beyond its small bounds and rural roots, garnering a large following not just from alumni, who universally seem to remember their Denison years as essential and formative, but have gotten them recognition in the Princeton Review and several listings in Lauren Pope’s annual “Colleges That Changed People’s Lives”. This has come about through constant change and expansion, taking a male-only university when it was Granville College in the mid-1800’s and incorporating the nearby Shepherdson College for Women by the turn of the century. Starting with just 3 graduates in 1840, Denison now has an 88% graduation rate, owing largely to its ability to avoid designation as a certain type of school. Popular majors are diverse, allowing for a more rounded education that is tailored to the students interests and needs, with a faculty that is dedicated to turning out people with degrees in reading, writing, and thinking, regardless of their actual major. In the end, Denison looks to equip all their students with the tools to take on the world, regardless of field of study.