From Ohio History Central
In 1868, newspaper editor Jesup Wakeman Scott published a pamphlet entitled, "Toledo: Future Great City of the World," in which he argued that Toledo would become a major center of world commerce by 1900. As a result, Scott donated 160 acres of land to the city to build a university. Known as the Toledo University of Arts and Trades, the school was incorporated in 1872 and offered its first classes in 1875. The original institution never fully met Scott's vision and ultimately had to close in 1878 because of financial problems.
In 1884, the dream was reborn when the city of Toledo gained control of the school's assets. The city reopened the institution as the Manual Training School in the same year. Students attending the school received a three-year degree in which they learned both academic subjects and vocational skills. Students were required to be at least thirteen years old to enroll.
In the early 1900s, the school's administrators moved the institution towards the standards of modern universities. Still, the school struggled financially during this era. The university reorganized and expanded its offerings in the first two decades of the twentieth century, forming the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Commerce and Industry (also known as the College of Business Administration), and the College of Education. As a result of its expanded degree programs, more students enrolled. By the late 1910s, student enrollment was approximately 1,400. Extracurricular activities also expanded, and in 1917 the university formed its first football team.
Enrollment continued to climb in the years following World War I, necessitating a major building program. Unfortunately, the United States soon entered the Great Depression. Although students continued to attend the school during the 1930s, the institution once again was experiencing financial difficulties. The university administration was ultimately able to utilize federal New Deal programs to help finance campus improvements.
During World War II, the University of Toledo contracted with the United States military to offer a number of training programs and to provide housing for troops. Students at the institution formed the first university Red Cross chapter in the nation during the war and participated in other activities to support American soldiers. The university grew tremendously after the war was over when veterans enrolled in college on the G.I. Bill. In addition to another increase in enrollment, the school was able to build additional buildings and establish the Greater Toledo Television Foundation, which focused on educational television programming.
Until 1967, the University of Toledo was a municipal university and received a significant portion of its budget from the city. This situation placed significant burdens on both Toledo and the university. As a result, the state legislature voted, on July 1, 1967, to make the University of Toledo a state university. Students were involved in a number of protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s, related to the war in Vietnam and reactions to campus violence at other institutions, but their efforts remained peaceful.
The University of Toledo has continued to grow in both numbers of students and the size of the campus in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Today, the institution enrolls more than twenty thousand students each year, and boasts of outstanding programs in pharmacy and engineering.