Jacob Lindley, A.M., D.D., 1774-1857
First President of Ohio University, 1809-1822
Born in Pennsylvania and educated at Jefferson College and the College of New Jersey, Dr. Lindley came to the presidency at the age of 35 from the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church of neighboring Waterford, Ohio. His was the task of organizing the academy (a preparatory school) and college, implementing a classical curriculum. He also taught the classes, which he did without assistance until 1814.
Classes, first organized in 1809, met in the two-room academy building which had been completed in 1808. The University was one of the first "Land Grant Colleges," receiving two townships in the County as university lands which were leased instead of sold, the rents serving as funds for the college. Originally to be known as American Western University the name was quickly changed to The Ohio University. The rules adopted for the University were those of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) "in so far as applicable." Literary societies were established. The first two baccalaureate degrees were conferred in 1815. Thomas Ewing, later holder of prominent positions as U.S. Senator and two Cabinet posts, was the first graduate. The College Edifice (Cutler Hall) was begun in 1816 and occupied in 1818. A four-year program of college courses was adopted in 1819.
Dr. Lindley asked to be relieved from the presidency but remain churchmaster in 1820. He continued in the ministry after retirement.