Robert R. Cupp

Chief Legal Counsel, Ohio Auditor of State; Former Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court,
Ohio Northern University, Class of 1973
Robert R. Cupp Headshot

​​​As a practicing attorney, one is discouraged from making one’s actions toward opposing counsel “personal.” As a state legislator, I was careful to not make disagreements with other legislators over proposed laws and policies “personal.” As an appellate judge and then as a Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, care was taken to not allow opposing views on case decisions with other judges to get “personal.”​

My education at Ohio Northern University (ONU)—where I acquired the knowledge and skills to be able serve the public as a lawyer, legislator, and justice—was, however, very “personal.” As a high school student, I was invited to the campus at ONU, a private university not far from where I grew up, by ONU’s full-time Vice President for Academic Affairs, who was also a temporary pastor at the small church near my family’s farm in rural west-central Ohio. Since that visit, it has all been personal. The academic VP not only gave me a personal tour that convinced me to attend ONU, but he also served as my academic advisor and continued to provide his personal attention and encouragement throughout my time on campus.
He was not alone. Nearly every professor, including ones from whom I never took a course, had a keen interest in ONU students’ well-being. One professor’s personal attention helped me take the first steps on my lifelong journey into government, politics, and public service. Other professors’ personal interest provided me with a deeper understanding of the theory and practice of American constitutional government.
The assistant dean of ONU’s law school personally explained to me the value of attending law school there and also personally confirmed my acceptance. His advice was completely on target, enabling me to enter a rewarding career in public service. When I was sworn in as a new justice of the Ohio Supreme Court three decades later, he was at the ceremony to personally share in this exceptional moment along with other professors.
As this illustrates, the personal nature of my ONU experience did not end when I graduated. The remarkable individual who served as ONU’s chaplain during my student days honored my wife and I some years later by officiating our wedding ceremony, which has blessed our 36-year marriage that is still going strong. Our two sons chose to attend ONU, where one met his wife. We now have two grandchildren, whom we will personally encourage to attend ONU to launch their careers and enhance their lives.
What I learned at ONU and those who touched my life there remain fresh my mind, and I’ve drawn on their advice and insights regularly as I have made my way through life.
Although it is best to not let some things in one’s professional responsibilities become personal, there could not have been a more rewarding and life-enhancing experience than my association with ONU – because it was personal.

Robert R. Cupp was elected as a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court in November 2006. Prior to his election, Justice Cupp served on the Ohio Court of Appeals, 3rd Appellate District. He was selected to be presiding judge of the court in 2005 and administrative judge in 2004. Before becoming a judge, he served 16 years as a member of the Ohio Senate, served as a Lima City prosecutor and assistant director of law, and was twice elected Allen County commissioner. Additionally, Cupp engaged in the private practice of law in Lima for more than 25 years. He has twice received the Ohio State Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award and has won the Ohio Association of Elected Officials’ Robert E. Hughes Memorial Award in recognition of outstanding contribution to the improvement of Ohio’s election process.
Cupp is a past president of the 13-county Black Swamp Area Boy Scout Council, a member of the Lima Rotary Club, and is on the board of trustees of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science degree with high distinction as well as his law degree from Ohio Northern University.