Shawnee State University

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Shawnee State University
Type Public
Established 1986
Endowment $11.6 million [1]
President Rick Kurtz
Students 4,600
Undergraduates 4,520
Postgraduates 80
Location Portsmouth, Ohio, U.S.
38°43′53″N 82°59′36″W / 38.731389°N 82.993333°W / 38.731389; -82.993333
SHAWNEE STATE UNIVERSITY Latitude and Longitude:

38°43′53″N 82°59′36″W / 38.731389°N 82.993333°W / 38.731389; -82.993333
Campus 52 acres (210,000 m2)
Colors Navy Blue and Gray
Nickname Bears
Affiliations NAIA Division I — MSC

Shawnee State University (SSU) is a public university that was established in 1986, making it one of Ohio’s youngest universities, and is located along the banks of the Ohio River in the city of Portsmouth in Scioto County. The late Vernal Riffe Jr., former Speaker of the Ohio House of Representative, sponsored the House Bill 739 which authorized the university and became law on July 2, 1986. He also endowed funding for the state-of-the-art Center for the Arts, which is now the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts, named in his honor.


Massie Hall is the first and oldest building at Shawnee State University

Over $2 million dollars are awarded in scholarships each year, and with over 80 Bachelor and Associate degree programs and 3 Master’s degree programs, SSU offers a wide range of high-quality signature programs at an affordable price with having the second to lowest tuition in the state of Ohio. Students are able to receive a personalized education with the low student/faculty ratio of 18:1. SSU offers Master's Degree programs for Education, Mathematics and Occupational Therapy. Bachelor and Associate degree programs range from Accounting, Art, Art Education, Athletic Training, Biology, Business Management Technology, Ceramics, Chemistry, Communications, Computer Aided Drafting & Design, Computer Engineering, Culture and Media Studies, Dental Hygiene, Design & Interactive Media, Digital Simulation & Gaming, Drawing, Education (Adolescent to Young Adult, Early Childhood, Intervention Specialist, Middle Childhood and Visual Arts), Electromechanical Engineering, Emergency Medical Technology, Engineering Preparatory Studies, English & Humanities, Environmental Engineering, Exercise Science, Gaming & Simulation Arts, General Studies, Geology, Graphic Design, Health Care Administration, History, Information Systems Management, Information Technology Management, International Relations, Language Arts Teacher Education, Legal Assisting, Management, Marketing, Mathematical Sciences, Math Teacher Licensure, Medical Laboratory Technology, Musical Theatre, Natural Science, Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Occupational Therapy, Painting, Philosophy & Religion, Photography, Physical Therapy Assistant, Physics, Plastics Engineering, Political Science, Pre-Medical Studies, Pre-Pharmacy Studies, Psychology, Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Therapy, RN-BSN Completion, Science Teacher Licensure, Social Science, Social Science with Legal Assisting, Sociology, Sport Management, Studio Arts and Technical Study.

SSU also offers study abroad programs in Chile, China, Germany, Morocco, Spain and 30 other countries.

The Game Design program has been nationally ranked 6 years in a row. The health science, pre-med and occupational therapy programs are all regionally recognized. The plastics engineering technology program is the only four-year program in the region.

Shawnee State has received $250,000 from H.R. 2829 Financial Service and General Government Appropriations Acts in FY2008 for new Immersion Technology and Arts Center Motion Capture Facility. The system uses 24 cameras to record movement, store it digitally, and allow it to be converted into animation. [2]

Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education

Shawnee State University is also home to the Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education (OACHE), [3] an organization that sponsors projects in 40 partner public-school districts and ten member institutions. Its goal is to break down the barriers to access and success in higher education. Twenty-nine Appalachian Ohio counties are in the project area, and OACHE-sponsored projects have been responsible for increasing the college-going rate in the school systems in these counties. [4]

Foreign Studies

In the interests of multiculturalism, SSU has student/faculty exchange programs with several overseas institutions, including Jaime I University [1] in Spain, Al Akhawayn University [2] in Morocco, Zhejiang University of Technology [3] in China, and Ludwigsburg University Pädagogische Hochschule Ludwigsburg in Germany.

SSU also has summer-study programs in Greece, Great Britain, and Ireland.

Shawnee State regularly offers travel/study abroad courses to a number destinations such as Greece, Britain, Spain, and Ireland, in order to increase global awareness among its students. Some of these courses are funded by the Hodgden Travel Fund and many others, in part, by the Center for International Programs Abroad (CIPA).

Shawnee offers a BA in International Relations, which aims to provide its graduates with the conceptual and substantive tools necessary to function more advantageously and effectively in a "shrinking" world. The degree consists of courses from many academic disciplines such as government, economics, business, history, and sociology, and includes SSU's first-ever foreign language requirement. This degree also places SSU in an exclusive group of four-year colleges and universities in the United States that offer this major and SSU is listed by U.S. News & World Report in the top 200 US best colleges offering this degree [citation needed] [2]

Shawnee also has over 50 international students and faculty representing over 20 countries, creating an international atmosphere on the small campus.


The Clark Memorial Library

Shawnee State, located in downtown Portsmouth, has a 52-acre (210,000 m2) campus, featuring 36 buildings, including the Advanced Technology Center (former home of one of only 50 Digistar II planetariums in the world and now home to the first Konica Minolta MediaGlobe II system in the United States), the Clark Memorial Library (which provides access to the 45.5 million items of the OhioLINK libraries' collections) [4], the 102,000-square-foot (9,500 m2) Vern Riffe Center for the Arts, which features an acoustically superior 1,139-seat main theatre and one of only a few functioning Virtual Audio Listening Rooms designed (along with main theater) by George Izenour. Other structures include the James A. Rhodes Athletic Center, which offers a gymnasium that is home to the Shawnee State Bears, weight rooms, racquetball courts, a dance classroom, and a junior Olympic-size swimming pool. A modern University Center [5], a bookstore operated by Barnes & Noble, and a network of off-campus townhouses for student living are also features of the SSU campus. Up to 1000 students, opting for an on-campus experience, may choose from several newly renovated housing complexes. Due to insufficient planning for the enormous on-campus growth, a significant portion of students currently have to share mailboxes with randomly assigned partners. As of the 2010-2011 school year, the campus has not announced plans to remedy the situation.

Shawnee State’s Children’s Learning Center serves area pre-school children and is a lab school for teacher education students at the university.

The university features a computer network comprising 560 student-accessible computers, all of them under 14 years old, available in 30 labs on campus. The university also offers free Internet services as well as a campus e-mail account to each student, faculty, and staff member. In 2010, University Information Systems (UIS), offloaded email services for students onto the Microsoft Live@EDU infrastructure allowing alumni to retain email accounts after graduation and giving current students access to Microsoft Skydrive and other online resources.

The Shawnee State University Board of Trustees voted in April 2006 to establish three new centers on campus. The Board established a Teaching and Learning Center, a Women's Center, and a Community Service Center. [5]

Campus Map

Clyde W. Clark Planetarium

Clark Planetarium interior with actual projection.

The Shawnee State University Clyde W. Clark Planetarium is situated within the university's Advanced Technology Center.


First opened in 1998, the Clark Planetarium was made possible by $900,000 raised as part of "Reach for the Stars", Shawnee State University's second capital campaign. The effort raised $5.9 million in cash and deferred gifts, $5 million of which form an endowment for the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.

The design of the planetarium includes 66 seats arranged facing the front of the planetarium. Each row inclines at a different angle to provide the good viewing experience from any seat in the room. The planetarium features a 10-meter perforated aluminum dome and a catwalk for maintenance and modification of the facilities.

The funds for the planetarium purchased the original equipment—the Digestar II—which made the facility possible. The remaining funds form an endowment to help ensure its continued vibrancy and vitality. Mrs. Clyde (Maycel) Clark was the principal donor and gave the funds in memory of her husband Clyde Clark. Other donors gave gifts as small as $1.00 and as large as thousands. Some are sponsors of months in the facility and are honored with the stars that are outside on the round shell.

In 2005, the Clark Planetarium replaced its aging Digistar II system with the new Konica Minolta Mediaglobe I/II hybrid system. The Clark Planetarium became the first institution in the United States to install the new Mediaglobe II system, allowing for simulated tours of the solar system and beyond. Unlike most future installations of the Mediaglobe II system, the Clark Planetarium also retained the ability to use the Mediaglobe I system, allowing a greater flexibility in show production and conversion.

Currently, the Clark Planetarium director is Tim Hamilton and three to four student workers who take care of day-to-day activities. The Clark Planetarium is funded in whole by Shawnee State University, the SSU Development Foundation, and private donors.


Clark Planetarium Operator Control Desk.

The Konica Minolta Mediaglobe system provides full-dome digital animation. The Mediaglobe I system provides the ability to display night-time scenery similar to those of Stellarium and other on-earth planetarium software. It also allows the playback of 1280x1024 MPEG video at 30fps using a 1024 pixel diameter inscribed circle. The Mediaglobe II further improves on the Mediaglobe software and hardware allowing for off-earth space simulations similar to those in Celestia. Video on the Mediaglobe II system is more difficult to display and requires a container file linking the OGG sound file and the m2v video file. Scripting for the Mediaglobe II is provided by a Java implementation, while scripting for the Mediaglobe I system is a custom Basic format.

The Clark Planetarium's hybrid implementation of the Mediaglobe I and II systems requires a total of five computers. Each system has its own rendering core, with the Mediaglobe I rendering system using Windows 2000 and the Mediaglobe II rendering system using Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The projector has a Windows XP remote for the Mediaglobe I system built-in for a simple-to-use interface for all Mediaglobe I shows. In the rear of the planetarium, each system has a remote for the rendering cores allowing a trained operator to control both systems simultaneously.

The planetarium's use of an ImageAnyplace machine also allows any video source to be projected with the SX-21 projector, although some criticize this video implementation as it provides roughly 480p video quality on the dome. The planetarium often borrows high-definition projectors from the university for display of PowerPoint presentations and other higher-resolution media.

Clark Planetarium Exterior with Foucault Pendulum.

Shows and exhibits

The Clark Planetarium [6] has a variety of shows dealing with topics such as Black Holes, Space Races, Constellations, Historic Astronomers, and Planets. The listing of shows increases every year as funds become available. Current shows include but are not limited to: Amazing Astronomers of Antiquity, Dawn of the Space Age, Future Moon, Skies Tonight, Seasonal Stargazing, Legends of the Night Sky: Orion, Larry Cat in Space, and Planets of the Solar System. The Shawnee State University Advanced Technology Center and the Clark Planetarium exhibit the Hubble Space Telescope Viewspace system as a permanent display in the lobby. The lobby also features a Foucault pendulum and planning specifications for various installations in the ATC. The Clark Planetarium prides itself in new attractions as it is able to fund them, and is currently exploring many new installations for the future.

Education and public outreach

The Clark Planetarium does not charge for schools in the Tri-State area. The Clark Planetarium also regularly works with the Ohio Valley Astronomical Society to bring telescopes and local talent to the children and community visiting the planetarium. The Clark Planetarium offers free public shows twice a week.

Student life

Student Organizations

Student organizations include AHANA (African, Hispanic, Asian, Native American), Association for Greek Life, Beta Beta Beta (Biology Honor Society), Campus Ministry, Chemistry Club, Environmental Club, Fantanime, Innermission, International Forum, Pre-Med Club, Resident Life Council, S.C.U.G. (Shawnee Computer Users Group), Shawnee State Students for Christ, Silhouette Literary Magazine, SSU Pep Club, Student Occupational Therapy Association, the Gay-Straight Alliance, Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, and Z.E.D. (Zombie Educational Defenses).

In addition, the university is home to a Humans vs. Zombies game, played once every semester.

The Student Government Association oversees all of the student organizations, numbering in the fifties. SGA is also member of the American Student Government Association (ASGA).

SSU's top news source is the student newspaper: the Shawnee State University Chronicle. The university's Office of Communications provides news and information about SSU-sponsored events.

Greek organizations

Shawnee State University is home to four Greek organizations:

Although there are currently only four organizations, the Greek community is continuously growing.

Campus housing

Shawnee State University is unique in that all residence halls on campus are apartment-style. New students, who are not living at home, are required to live on campus for at least their first year. Residence halls are staffed with undergraduate and graduate student Resident Assistants, supervised by full-time, Master's-level Residence Coordinators. The Office of Student Activities and Housing manages the residence halls. There is a full-service, all-you-care-to-eat, dining facility on campus, currently managed by Sodexo Food Services.

Campus events

Many campus activities and events are organized by the Student Programming Board. Annual events include SpringFest, which features a concert, " Homecoming," which is held in winter and corresponds with the Bears basketball homecoming game, and the 5k Bear Run, held in both the Fall and Spring semesters. Veterans Recognition Day and Memorial Day activities often include parachuting and other aerial displays.


Shawnee State University teams, nicknamed athletically as the Bears, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Mid-South Conference. The Bears previously competed in the American Mideast Conference from 1991–92 to 2009–10. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and track & field (outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field (outdoor) and volleyball.

Shawnee State University has a rich tradition of success in athletics. As a member of the NAIA, SSU has participated in 24 NAIA National Championships in 6 of 11 sponsored sports. The SSU women’s basketball team won the NAIA Division II National Championship on March 16, 1999 and made an appearance in the Final Four in both 2010 and 2011. SSU also boasts a Men's Cross Country team that is national ranked nearly every year finishing 4th Nationally in 2009 and 2010.


Shawnee's Board of Trustees recently approved a new university master plan, a plan for the "university's growth over the next 20 years. The plan looks to reshape the campus, including new structures and renovations. [7] An extensive renovation to the University's Student Center ("University Center") of $15 million was recently completed. [8]

The university, working with the city of Portsmouth and Scioto County, has negotiated a deal to close a portion of Third Street, between Gay and Waller, to vehicle traffic, in order to grow and expand and make the campus safer. [9] Shawnee State completed the street closure in 2013.

Notable people


Shawnee ... State ... University ...



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