Tradition of Excellence

140 Years and Counting

Tradition is one of the few things that can withstand the test of time. This may be why the University of Findlay is now celebrating its 140th year as an academic institution, working to cultivate the potential within each student. Through academic excellence, transformative experiences, and a supportive community that is grounded in Christian faith, Findlay has continued to provide students with opportunities to continue their education.

Established in 1882 through a joint partnership between the Churches of God, General Conference and the City of Findlay, Findlay College was developed with the goal of providing faith-centered, high quality academics to the community. With a total of 70 students, classes first began in 1886, during the height of a natural gas and oil boom, which made Findlay one of the most prosperous and exciting communities in the country at that time. This heritage was ingrained in, then, Findlay College and can be seen across campus still today. In 1892, Findlay adopted orange and black as the school colors, representing the flame atop the natural gas derricks. Later, Derrick the Oiler became the school’s official mascot and the “Oilers” were born. 

In the last 140 years, many things have changed – from the technology used daily, to the roads and buildings that seemingly spring up from the ground around us. One thing that has not waivered, is Findlay’s commitment to equip students for meaningful lives and productive careers. “This may not have been our stated mission in 1980, but we were living it back then in the same way we are now!” said Raymond McCandless, vice president of information technology services. “It was part of our culture and, as a young faculty member, I knew it and felt it.” 

Having been a part of campus since the fall of 1980, McCandless has served in many roles outside of his current position including as Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Political Science and Public Administration; Chair of the Social Science Division; Chair of the Criminal Justice Department; Academic Technology Services Director; and Center for Teaching Excellence Director. Throughout his time of more than 40 years at Findlay, McCandless noted a number of prominent changes. “What first comes to mind is academic program growth. What became obvious to me very quickly as I began my time at Findlay was the emphasis on careers and profession,” McCandless said. “The programs/majors that have been added, such as in the health professions areas, continues this tradition.” He added if anyone would be transported directly from the Findlay College campus of 1980 to now, “they would be struck immediately by the growth in the number of buildings; the expansiveness of campus.” 

For Findlay, growth means more than expanding to the next block or packing classrooms. “Every university campus can point to the growth in technology, bricks and mortar, and program development as a way that they are better serving students today. However, none of that really matters unless the servant-leader philosophy becomes embedded within the institution’s DNA,” McCandless explained. Findlay has grown with the unique objective of making connections between academic studies and future careers for students. 

Even with all the changes, some traditions will never fade. The Griffith Memorial Arch, constructed in memory of Caddie Griffith, a 1909 graduate and former faculty member, stands tall in front of Old Main and marks entry to campus in a number of ways. Now a longstanding tradition, incoming students walk through the Arch toward Old Main during orientation as an official welcome to campus. When students graduate, they pass through the Arch again in the opposite direction and go back out into the world to begin their careers. Reflecting on traditions, McCandless added, “there is something else happening during that opening time that is even more important to me. All of the one-on-one help provided to students as they attempt to negotiate academic schedules, technology use, athletic practice, student housing and many other challenges. This is the true gateway to UF. This is what gives real meaning to entering through the Griffith Memorial Arch – a campus community that supports and cares during college and well after.”