University of Rio Grande

In 1876, Permelia Atwood established the University of Rio Grande. For the institution's first seventy years, it was affiliated with the Baptist Church. Historically, the University of Rio Grande faced low enrollment. Perhaps the main reason for this is the institution's isolated location in Rio Grande, a small community in southeastern Ohio. The first students did not graduate from the University of Rio Grande until 1883. Once the college began to offer teacher training in the 1910s, enrollment increased, but the Great Depression and World War II quickly reversed these gains. In the mid 1950s, the Baptist Church withdrew its support of the University of Rio Grande, causing the college to face increasing financial difficulties.

During the 1960s, the University of Rio Grande implemented plans to create a state-supported community college. The intention was to increase access to higher education for local residents. The Ohio Board of Regents approved this plan, and although the University of Rio Grande was a private institution, in 1974, the college opened Rio Grande Community College with financial assistance from the Ohio government. These two institutions became collectively known as the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College. Working together, these two institutions proved to be beneficial to each other. Combined, both colleges had an endowment of more than twenty-five million dollars in 2005. In this same year, more than two thousand students attended these colleges, and approximately seventy-five percent of them were commuter students.

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