Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, USA

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Miami University is a public university offering undergraduate and graduate degree programmes in the liberal arts and sciences. The main campus is located in Oxford, Ohio with regional campuses in nearby Hamilton and Middletown, Ohio, and a European Centre in Luxembourg.


As of 2003, the University enrols around 21,000 students, with roughly 80% of them attending the main Oxford campus.

Miami is one of the eight original 'Public Ivy' schools, providing an Ivy League-quality education at a public school price, and is consistently rated a 'Best Buy' in national rankings.

Academic programmes are organised into the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education and Allied Professions, Engineering and Applied Science, Fine Arts, and Interdisciplinary Studies. Individual programmes have achieved national recognition:

  • The undergraduate accountancy programme is ranked 6th in the nation by the CPA Personnel Report Professors' Survey (2001), which also ranks the graduate accountancy programme as 18th best. The undergraduate programme is ranked 21st in the nation by US News and World Report (2001).

  • The undergraduate engineering programme is ranked 25th by US News and World Report among schools that do not offer a PhD in engineering (2002).

  • An internet design studio run by architecture and interior design students was one of six winners in the 2002 competition sponsored by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board.

  • Second-place honours went to a team of paper science and engineering students who designed and built a paper sailboard for the 2002 National Energy Challenge competition sponsored by the US Department of Energy and other organisations. Third-place honours and a $5,000 prize went to a team of paper science and engineering undergraduates who entered the US Department of Energy's Challenge 2001.

Miami is one of the country's 100 most-wired colleges, according to Yahoo! Internet Life. The rankings are based on infrastructure, student resources, Web portal, e-learning, technical support and wireless access (2001).


The major varsity sports teams are:

  • Men's sports - American football, basketball, ice hockey, track and field, swimming and diving.

  • Women's sports - synchronised skating, volleyball, basketball, track and field, swimming and diving.

Most of the teams play in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and are competitive in their leagues. The two synchronised skating teams are nationally ranked and consistently finish in the medals; the varsity team consistently places in the top ten at the World Synchronised Skating Championships.

The school colours are red and white. The school mascot is the redhawk.


Chartered in 1809, Miami University was the second university to be established in the part of the North American continent then known as the Northwest Territory. The university was named after the Indian tribe living in what would become the Greater Miami Valley. The school's early years were somewhat rocky; it did not open its doors to students until late 1824, due in part to difficulties in raising funds to support the new school and disputes as to where it should be built. Miami University was forced to close from 1873 to 1885 because of hardships following the American Civil War (1862 - 1865). When it reopened, it responded to the rapid industrialisation of the United States, changing its emphasis on the classical curriculum based on Greek and Latin, and adding programmes to provide scientific and practical training. In the autumn of 1887, the hitherto all-male university admitted its first female students. The year 1902 brought significant changes, with the enrolment of the first African-American student at the university and the division of its academic programme into liberal arts and education. The year 1902 also saw the creation of the first sorority, a social organisation for female students corresponding to the men's fraternities. The trends toward increasing enrolment of a diverse student body and the proliferation of academic programmes continued throughout the 1900s creating the Miami University of today.

Fun Facts and Claims to Fame

  • William Holmes McGuffey wrote his Eclectic Readers from 1834 to 1836 while on the faculty of the University. His house still stands on the Oxford campus on the corner of Spring and Oak Streets and is open to the public.

  • Miami has been nicknamed the 'Cradle of Coaches'; because many prominent coaches have either trained or begun their careers at this school.

  • By the late 19th Century, Miami was also known as the 'Mother of Fraternities'. The primarily social Greek-letter fraternities had replaced the literary and academic societies that flourished during the university's early years. A few of the university's presidents did not approve of these so-called 'secret societies', and in particular President McMaster's disapproval led to...

  • ...the Great Snowball Rebellion of 1848. A dozen students returning to campus from a prayer meeting rolled several large snowballs up to Old Main, the administrative and classroom building, completely blocking the entrance. The next day President McMaster saw his opportunity to crack down on students who left the campus to socialise and announced that he would expel any student who'd had anything to do with blocking the door. Naturally the culprits told their friends and fraternity brothers, and that night they took advantage of additional snowfall to 'do the job right', piling the lobby and some rooms of Old Main with snow, upending chairs, desks, and the university's entire winter supply of wood into the snow-filled rooms. They cut down the bell in the belfry and dropped it into a cistern, and then nailed shut the windows and door. Two weeks later every Greek on campus had been expelled. While this episode could be regarded as 'youthful high spirits'...

  • ...a more serious form of unrest hit college campuses in the spring of 1970 as students protested America's involvement in the Vietnam War. At Miami, there were the usual protests and sit-ins, which were followed one memorable evening by the Great Flush-in. At 6.00pm, students all over campus turned on the showers and flushed toilets, draining Oxford's reservoir and sending all the water down the sewers and into basements all over town. Initial glee over the success of the Flush-in turned to consternation over the next several days, as students discovered that they could not take a shower, get a drink of water, or flush a toilet. Their enthusiasm for protesting followed the water down the toilets: the Great Flush-in effectively marked the end of anti-war activism at Miami.

  • While becoming an integral part of modern American society, the University has maintained links with the Miami Indian Tribe. In 2002, The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University signed an agreement to establish a central repository for Miami Indian historical, cultural and linguistic resources. Believed to be the first of this type in the country, it is hoped that the agreement can serve as a model for other tribes and universities.

Further Reading

  • Visit the Miami University Web Site to learn more about the school today. You can tour the campus, check out Webcams, and listen to the school song at the Virtual Tour. Check out the college newspaper at The Miami Student and the radio station at WMUB 88.5 FM.

  • For more on Miami University's history, check out The Miami Years by Walter Havighurst and Miami University - A Personal History by Phillip R Shriver.

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