Ohio University canceled classes at its Athens campus at about noon since a man with a gun remained at large following a robbery this morning.
About 22,000 students were instructed to return to their dormitories and apartments. About 2,500 non-essential employees were told they could leave for the day.
OU President Roderick McDavis said late this afternoon that the closure was a "precautionary move ... to protect our students, faculty and staff" since the gunman was seen running toward campus.
OU called in extra police officers and notified students this morning following the armed robbery at Station Street Apartments near campus at 9:24 a.m.
A man with a handgun robbed a woman of $5 and ran in the direction of the Stocker Center, police said. He was described as black, about 6-2 in height and wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.
OU sent out an emergency text and email alert to students at 9:59 a.m.
McDavis said the delay in canceling classes was rooted in hopes the robber would be arrested while keeping most students in classes away from potential danger. OU officials said police did not indicate the robber was dangerous, but they considered him a "significant threat to campus."
Athens City Schools locked down its buildings, but did not cancel classes.
Ohio University officials this afternoon also announced that the men's basketball game against Eastern Michigan University, scheduled for 7 p.m. today, would not be played. The game will be rescheduled.
Classes are expected to resume on Thursday, but that call will not be made until 5 p.m. or later.
Some Court Street bars opened early to take advantage of students' unexpected time-off and used Twitter messages to advertise their availability.
Ohio State University spokeswoman Amy Murray, an employee since 1985, said she recalls no armed robbery or other crime on or off its main campus that prompted the cancelation of classes. Robberies are not unusual in campus neighborhoods.
OSU did not cancel classes, for example, in 2010 when the so-called "Church Lady Bandit" robbed the U.S. Bank branch in the Ohio Union. The woman implied she had a gun, but did not display one.
Asked if OU overreacted, McDavis said: "Others will have to be the judge of that. I will always err on the side of safety for our students, faculty and staff."
Randy Ludlow - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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