In January of 1967, ten presidents of institutions in the Dayton/Miami Valley area met to discuss collaborative efforts in education and research. Those institutions involved became the founding members of the Dayton-Miami Valley Consortium. Those founding institutions were as follows:
- Air Force Institute of Technology
- Antioch College
- Central State University
- Sinclair Community College
- Urbana University
- University of Dayton
- Wilberforce University
- Wilmington College
- Wittenberg University
- Wright State University
In March 1967, the presidents received a federal grant of $50,000 to develop the Consortium. Objectives as stated at that time were to increase appreciably their inter-institutional cooperation, improve curricula, develop new courses and programs, minimize costs and centralize selected functions using the most recent technology emphasizing computers, modern educational technology and communication media.
In November 1967, the Dayton-Miami Valley Consortium was officially incorporated by the State of Ohio. Its charter sets forth broadly stated objectives which allow the members maximum flexibility in developing program related to research, education, and community development.
In 1982, the Board of Trustees redefined its objectives and sharpened the focus to strengthen the scope, quality, and efficiency of learning through cooperative activities and programs.
The Board also approved a policy which permitted a limited number of corporations to join the Consortium as voting, dues-paying members. Since corporations in the U.S. invest significant dollars annually in education and training, the Board believed it wise to collaborate in regional planning and to share in the use and development of human and physical resources.
In 1984, the Board of Trustees officially changed the name of the cooperative organization to the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education. The motivation for this change was the intention to invite members to join the Consortium from a wider region.
With these initiatives, the total membership of SOCHE has grown to 22 institutions and corporations. In addition to the 10 founding member institutions, the following have been added over the years:
- Antioch University
- Cedarville University
- Central Michigan University
- Cincinnati State
- Clark State Community College
- Edison State Community College
- Kettering College
- The Kettering Foundation
- Miami University – Regionals
- Southern State Community College
- The Union Institute and University
- United Theological Seminary
- University of Cincinnati
In 1994, SOCHE underwent a major organizational restructuring. This led to a more streamlined and decentralized operation with the development of program agendas driven by cooperative councils. A major initiative in 1996 was the development of the Covenant of Lifelong Learning and Collaboration, which was revised in 1998 and 2004.
The history of consortia demonstrates that programs and activities thrive only where the commitment of the college and university presidents is deep and pervasive; where they share a common understanding that cooperation through good will releases far more creative potential among persons and institutions than does competition. The Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education has enjoyed quantitative and qualitative growth in its first 30 years due to the shared philosophy, vision, and flexibility of its Board. The fruits of their enlightened self-interest are reflected in the record of cooperative activity and resource sharing.