Five Cardinal Experiences
The mission of Otterbein University is to educate the whole person in a context that fosters the development of humane values. Otterbein is a private, church-related, coeducational University that sponsors traditional and continuing education programs of liberal arts and professional education at Baccalaureate and Graduate levels. Our commitment is to the liberal arts as the broad base of all learning.
Otterbein University, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, is grounded in a Christian heritage that fosters concern for purpose and meaning in life, the dignity of persons, and the significance of community. This tradition offers dialogue with other faiths and philosophies, intellectual stimulation, openness to the day’s issues, and incentive to new understanding. Thus, Otterbein University seeks students, faculty and staff who represent societal diversity. The University maintains an openness to all qualified persons and does not discriminate with regard to race, sex, religion, ancestry, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disabling condition, political affiliation, veteran status or marital status.
A liberal arts education at Otterbein University emphasizes a process of liberation from those attitudes that may narrow one’s perspective on self, society, and the world. Through the study of the liberal arts, students develop a sense of relevance and immediacy to life situations. Otterbein University provides focal points around which self-education may continue after graduation through quality academic programs in which students:
- acquire knowledge
- develop the ability to make critical judgments
- form a commitment to intellectual inquiry
- develop the ability to express themselves clearly
- develop the ability to participate thoughtfully in discussion and decision making
- develop the powers of synthesis
A liberal arts education involves creating an atmosphere which stimulates students to become aware of themselves and their responsibilites within a larger, multi-cultural society. Thus, the University emphasizes community service, co-curricular and social interaction in preparing the whole person to develop to responsible commitments to society.
To accomplish these educational purposes, Otterbein strives to provide a teaching faculty of superior quality that is committed to our educational goals. In addition to teaching, the faculty and staff at Otterbein engage in a variety of important tasks including research, advising, administration, and professional development. Through its sabbatical leave program, Otterbein encourages professional development of its faculty as well as program development, course development, and pedagogy.
The Five Cardinal Experiences
At Otterbein, opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning are an essential part of the liberal arts education. A Cardinal Experience is an active and authentic concrete experience that engages students in real-world opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the classroom. A Cardinal Experience may occur in the community, on campus, or across the globe through experiential coursework, co-curricular programs, and individually-crafted initiatives. They are generative, reflective, and creative activities that promote significant change in our communities, scholarship, and students.
The Five Cardinal Experiences are:
- Community Engagement
- Global and Intercultural Engagement
- Undergraduate Research and Creative Work
- Internships and Professional Experience
- Leadership and Citizenship
Otterbein University was founded (as the Otterbein University of Ohio) in 1847 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and named after a co-founder of the Church, Philip William Otterbein, who was a German Reformed pastor and itinerant evangelist. In later years, the Church went through a merger with the Evangelical Association and became the Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB) and then, through a second merger with the Methodist Church, became the current United Methodist Church. Otterbein was chartered by the State of Ohio in 1849, and granted its first degrees in 1857. It is currently approved by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church. From eight students in 1847, we have grown to a current enrollment of over 3,000.
The University has historically seen its mission centered in a program of liberal arts education in the Christian tradition. While Otterbein has evolved into a comprehensive University, combining traditional liberal arts disciplines and professional programs, the liberal arts remain a foundation for our educational programs.
Similarly, while Otterbein has always emphasized undergraduate education, the decisions to offer graduate degrees are also consistent with our history and mission. The University offered Ph.D. degrees from 1883 until 1895 and M.A. degrees until 1912, and when graduate programs in Education and Nursing were added in 1989 and 1993, one important rationale was that these programs would provide important benefits to the undergraduate curriculum. A Masters of Business Administration was added in 1997.
In addition to its Church-related heritage and its commitment to liberal arts and professional education, three other features of Otterbein’s history deserve special attention.
First, from its founding, and as a reflection of Church practices and policies, Otterbein was intentionally and uncommonly inclusive with respect to women and people of color. Otterbein was among the first coeducational colleges in America, The College and the Community and probably the first college in the United States to be founded as coeducational and to admit women to the same programs of study as male students. From its opening, Otterbein employed female faculty members, and it was probably the first college to do so. Otterbein was also one of the first three colleges in the United States to be open to students of color, and College historians have argued that it deserves to be considered the first to be founded with that philosophy.
Second, Otterbein has been unique in the development of a governance system that includes many campus constituencies in University decision-making. During the 1850s and 1860s, a number of faculty served as members of the Executive Committee. Since 1946, faculty and students have served in an advisory role on most trustee committees. In September, 1970, the University implemented a new governance system that is an extension of this inclusive heritage and that received much national attention. The new system provided for a single University Senate, composed of faculty, students, administrators, alumni, and trustees; it also added two elected student trustees and two elected faculty trustees as full voting members of the Board.
Third, in 1968, Otterbein created an innovative general education initiative, the Integrative Studies Program. Originally known as the “Common Courses” in the early history of the institution, the Integrative Studies Program was also established, in keeping with the University’s spirit of inclusiveness and community, to provide sufficiently broad study of world culture to enable students to understand the continuum of ideas, movements, and patterns which has produced the civilization of the 21st century. Like our governance system, this program has also received national recognition by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Recent revisions of the program underscore the themes of coherence, breadth of understanding, and intellectual community.