The National House Inn bed and breakfast is only 12 miles south of Olivet. If you are visiting the campus, we invite you to stay with us! We are a great alternative to a generic hotel.
Founded in 1844 by “Father” John J. Shipherd— Olivet College’s guiding principle was to provide students with “the means of intellectual, moral, and spiritual improvement and to teach them the Divine art and science of doing good to others.” From its beginning, the college’s founders and leaders believed an education should be available to anyone regardless of gender, race, or ability to pay.
Olivet’s commitment to educating women and minorities cost the college dearly at the time. In 1845, the college was prevented from receiving a state charter because of its abolitionist beliefs. Nevertheless, the college and the community persevered. In spite of illness and the unexpected death of Father Shipherd, the settlers began offering classes as the Olivet Institute. Finally, in 1859, a state charter was granted and in 1863 the college granted degrees to its first class of college graduates: Sara Benedict, Mary N. Barber, and Sophia A. Keyes.
During the 1930s and 40s, the college developed a national reputation for adopting the “Oxford model”—a tutorial system used in European universities—that relied heavily on seminars and interaction between faculty and students. It was during this period that the college also sponsored a series of writers’ conferences that brought some of the world’s leading literary talents to Olivet. Participants included Katherine Anne Porter, Sherwood Anderson, and Ford Maddox Ford.
In the early 1990s Olivet College redefined its direction and produced a new academic vision titled Education for Individual and Social Responsibility. This vision statement echoes the language of the original catalog: “ 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.”
The transformation of the institution that proceeded from the development of the new vision statement has been far-reaching and profound. It has forced the college to redesign curricula and to challenge traditional assumptions about the purposes and assessment strategies for a college education. The critical change in this new educational delivery system, now known as The Olivet Plan, is the focus on student learning—as documented by students’ growing competence in groups of learning outcomes rather than on simply delivering courses, credits, and grades.
Moving into the next phase of their work, they face maturation level challenges to the college’s comprehensive institutional transformation. These challenges continue to resonate with the three critical issues facing Olivet College and, indeed, all of American higher education: institutional accountability for student learning, building civil and inclusive communities that model democracy at its best, and ensuring equity of access to higher education by controlling costs.
Not only do these challenges address the critical needs of higher education at the dawn of the new century, but they also echo the original philosophy of the college’s founders. Olivet College accepts the challenge today as it did in 1844 and in doing so, we keep in mind the original guiding philosophy of the institution: “All... are created free and equal and are members of one great universal brotherhood... All should pursue and be permitted to pursue that which the nature of each demands; namely a vigorous and harmonious development and culture of all their mental and physical powers. The obscurest heir of poverty is as much entitled to this boon, as the most favored child of hereditary wealth and honor... Improvement of mind is heaven’s legacy and humanity’s birthright; and he is ignorant of his lineage who refuses to lay righteous claim to this divine patrimony. Consequently the privileges of this Institution will be open to all... irrespective of rank, condition, color, or sect.”
We are very proud to have our bed and breakfast lodging and accommodations near Olivet College in Michigan.