History & Mission

Olivet College is dedicated today, as it was in 1844, to the principle that the future of humanity rests in the hands, hearts and minds of those who will accept responsibility for themselves and others in an increasingly diverse society.

Mission and Vision

At Olivet College, we value the individual student. We make strides to ensure each student builds long-lasting relationships with professors and peers, experiences rewarding opportunities, and gains the knowledge needed to be successful in any future career.

Olivet College’s mission is to provide an education that enriches lives intellectually, morally and spiritually to a diverse campus community. Having attained these qualities through their educational experiences at Olivet, our hope is that our graduates will embody the “divine art and science of doing good to others,” as stated by the College’s founding fathers in 1844.

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The OC Compact

Olivet is as dedicated today as we were at our founding to offering an education to all, regardless of race, gender or financial means. Through a series of seven principles, The OC Compact serves to promote and encourage responsibility among the college’s students, faculty, staff and board of trustees.

Our History

We Wish Simply to Do Good to Our Students

In 1844, “Father” John J. Shipherd, a Congregational minister, walked into what is now the Olivet College Square and began an institution that operates much like the one we have today. From its inception, the College’s leaders believed education should be available to anyone regardless of gender, race or financial means. The basis of Olivet’s guiding principle was established by the founders when they wrote, “We wish simply to do good to our students, by placing in their hands the means of intellectual, moral and spiritual improvement, and to teach them the divine art and science of doing good to others.”

The College was prevented from receiving a state charter in 1845 due to its abolitionist beliefs. Regardless, the College persevered. In 1859, a state charter was granted to Olivet College, and in 1863 the College honored its first graduating class: Mary N. Barber, Sara Benedict and Sophia A. Keyes.

In 1993, the Olivet College community established a new academic vision for the College. Titled Education for Individual and Social Responsibility, the vision echoes the words of Olivet’s founding fathers as it states, “Olivet College is dedicated today, as it was in 1844, to the principle that the future of humanity rests in the hands, hearts and minds of those who will accept responsibility for themselves and others in an increasingly diverse society.” This vision shaped the redesigning of curricula and challenged traditional assumptions about the purposes and assessment strategies for a college education. The new education system, known as The Olivet Plan, focuses on student learning rather than simply delivering courses, credits and grades.

Olivet faculty and staff continue to develop new and innovative ways to advance and develop young people. At the same time, the College community works to meet the practical needs of students with a growing focus on careers and the job market.

Throughout its nearly 180-year history, the College community has remained dedicated to the primary objectives Olivet’s founding fathers set out to achieve. Offering multiple areas of study, Olivet meets and exceeds the needs of more than 1,000 undergraduate residential, adult professional and graduate students who attend the College.

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320 S. Main Street
Olivet, MI 49076

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