Ashland College Campus
The United Brethren Church opened Ashland College, the predecessor of Ashland University, in 1879, in Ashland, Ohio. The school originally enrolled seventy-five students and had eight faculty members. The institution struggled during its first years, eventually filing for bankruptcy in 1888, and the court ordered the school's sale.
In 1888, the United Brethren Church purchased Ashland College's buildings from the court and established Ashland University. The next year, Ashland University founded a theological seminary. The institution continued to struggle financially, closing its doors in both 1896 and 1897. In 1898, Ashland University reopened its doors and returned to its original name of Ashland College. Within four years, the institution had eliminated its previous debts and established a sizable endowment, allowing the school to construct new buildings and expand its faculty.
Throughout the early twentieth century, Ashland College continued to grow. In 1932, the institution adopted the eagle as its mascot, and in 1940 students began to pilfer eagle statues from nearby businesses and place them on the campus. During the 1970s, Ashland College experienced a small decline in student enrollment, but the addition of business and nursing degrees helped overcome this downturn. In 1989, Ashland College again became known as Ashland University. During the 1990s, the institution exceeded five thousand students, and in 2005, Ashland University boasted more than 5,600 enrollees.