Ohio University Eastern faculty member Michael Schor shares a few laughs with alumni Jennifer Fox and Jason Garczyk at the 60th Anniversary Gala.

Ohio University Eastern faculty member Michael Schor shares a few laughs with alumni Jennifer Fox and Jason Garczyk at the 60th Anniversary Gala.

Scores of people who studied, worked and grew at Ohio University Eastern attended the school's 60th Anniversary Gala on Oct. 14.

Scores of people who studied, worked and grew at Ohio University Eastern attended the school's 60th Anniversary Gala on Oct. 14.

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Ohio University Eastern celebrates 60 years of educating the Upper Ohio Valley (VIDEO)

WHEELING, West Virginia — Scores of people who studied, worked and grew at Ohio University Eastern gathered on Saturday, Oct. 14, to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary and learned that fundraising efforts conducted this year will make an education at the Eastern Campus possible for even more local students.

A capacity crowd of 300 alumni and community leaders attended the Ohio University Eastern 60th Anniversary Gala at River City Restaurant and Bar in downtown Wheeling. The evening began at 6 p.m. with a social gathering that featured a string quartet, photo booth and an area for group pictures with a special OHIO background. 

E. J. Schodzinski, director of external relations for the St. Clairsville campus, welcomed the crowd and delivered opening remarks. Schodzinski, who has been at the Eastern Campus for 20 years, began by reminiscing about the opening of the Health and Physical Education Center, which happened on Oct. 4, 1997, just over 20 years ago.

“I remember the parking lot was full, the bleachers were crowded and the community was very supportive of Ohio University and, in particular, its Eastern Campus,” he said. “It was truly a magical night. It is abundantly clear to me by looking out into this audience tonight that the community support for Ohio University Eastern is stronger than ever and we are all taking part in another memorable event.”

Ohio University began offering classes at Martins Ferry High School in 1957. By 1967, Shannon Hall had been constructed at the current Ohio University Eastern campus site west of St. Clairsville. Thousands of local residents have obtained college educations because the “branch” campus was available for them to attend close to home.

Schodzinski thanked many people in the audience, including the gala sponsors and members of the Ohio University Eastern Community Advisory Board, for their support of the event.

“I cannot thank our sponsors enough for their support of Ohio University Eastern and this event,” he said. “Without their support, tonight’s event would not be possible.” 

Schodzinski noted that the community advisory board first began meeting about 18 months ago with the mission of generating ideas to strengthen existing relationships and create new partnerships in the community. The members of the board include Ginny Favede, Rich Greenlee, Debbie Kenny, Sarah Mahan Hays, Dan Milleson, Jerry Narcisi, Denise Penz, Bob Shugert, Harry White and Paul Abraham.

“One of the ideas that the board helped to develop was this gala event tonight,” Schodzinski beamed. “The goal was to bring folks together to celebrate 60 years, and hopefully to achieve a fundraising goal of $60,000, which would go toward scholarships for area students. I am happy to report tonight that we have far exceeded that initial goal and are on the verge of hitting $300,000 for scholarships over the last year.” 

The crowd erupted in delight with the good news.

Schodzinski went on to explain the minimum scholarship endowment at Ohio University Eastern is $15,000. 

“Our goal was to strive for four scholarship endowments at $15,000 each to reach our goal and provide scholarship assistance for four students,” he said. “We currently have new commitments for eight scholarship endowments, and our employee giving drive is fast approaching an additional endowment. This is extremely important as it shows that our faculty and staff are fully committed to the University and our students. In addition, all of the proceeds from tonight’s event, including the sponsorships and the tickets, will go toward scholarships. The end result is $300,000 in scholarship endowments that will benefit local students.”

Schodzinski singled out Denise Penz of Home Savings Bank for getting the momentum going. 

“A year ago, we had our kickoff celebration for the 60th anniversary. During this event, Denise made the announcement that Home Savings Bank was going to make a $30,000 endowment. This initial gift was significant and had a domino effect that carried over during the entire year.”

Several of the new donors were in attendance, and each was recognized for their endowments to the University. These included the John and Rita Dutton Family, the Patrick Greenlee Family, Dan Milleson, Mike McTeague and the Jerry and Lova Ebbert Family. 

“We feel very fortunate to provide this scholarship to the youth of the Ohio Valley, and as graduates of Ohio University, we’re proud of the impact the University has in our local area,” Rita Dutton said on behalf of her family. “As a family, we’ve always believed a commitment to our youth is the most important investment we can make for the future of our community. We are very excited for the young men and women that will benefit from this endowment.”

Dan Milleson also commented on why he was pleased to be able to provide the Kinsey Milleson scholarship.

“We are proud to set into motion the R. Kinsey Milleson Public Service Endowment,” he said. “The purpose of our gift is to make financial aid available to OUE students when they declare political science or business as their area of study. Kinsey believed in finding the greater good and had a love of community that he instilled in all of us.”

Campus Dean Paul Abraham praised the residents of the communities that surround Ohio University Eastern for taking advantage of the opportunities the regional campus has provided and for helping it to grow throughout its six decades in Belmont County. He pointed out that what began as a starting point for a college education that could be completed at Ohio University’s main campus in Athens or at another college or university has evolved to offer 13 complete degrees on site.

“When I meet alumni from across the years, they always express appreciation for what they learned, that OUE was here for them and how essential the faculty and staff have been to their success,” Abraham added. “That, for me, is the greatest success I can point to for a campus. … Our core mission to provide affordable high quality university-level education resonates in the Upper Ohio Valley. Every student that we serve is an opportunity to do something important for our region.”

David Bambrey, interim assistant vice president of alumni relations and interim executive director of the OHIO Alumni Association, told the crowd it had been a pleasure to partner with Schodzinski and his team as they worked to prepare for this event. He then presented a video featuring Ohio University Eastern alumni talking about their experiences at the campus. 

“I think we can all agree that there is a powerful, intangible quality that all Bobcats possess as a result of their education from Ohio’s first and finest university,” he remarked. 

Other speakers featured during the evening included Bill Willan, executive dean of regional higher education, and Janetta King, chair of the Ohio University Board of Trustees. University President M. Duane Nellis was not able to attend, but he praised the Ohio University Eastern faculty and students and expressed his wishes for the campus to continue on its successful path in a video message that was shared with the audience. President Nellis visited the campus in August and said he was impressed with the talented professors he met and with the productive relationships they had built with their students.

“I believe in the slogan ‘OHIO for Ohio,’ and OUE is living up to its end of the bargain,” President Nellis said.

The program concluded with a short display of some of the faculty talent President Nellis mentioned. Former dean Richard Greenlee composed a song for the occasion that captures the spirit of the Ohio University Eastern campus:

“We are small but we’re mighty, they call us OUE,

“For sixty years, we have served the Ohio Valley.

“We started at the high school, in Martins Ferry,

“We are OHIO University.”

This article was provided by Ohio University Eastern.