Historical Society Director Cites Faults In Ridges Committee Legislation

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Ron Luce, the executive director of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum (ACHSM), says the proposed legislation, advanced by Ohio University, to alter the makeup of “The Ridges Advisory Committee” is “problematic on many fronts.”

OU spokesperson Katie Quaranta told The Athens Messenger, yesterday, that an amendment was added to House Bill 59, the state budget bill to change the composition of the committee. 

“The purpose of the proposed changes is to update the committee’s reporting structure so that members are appointed by and advise the president,” Quaranta said to The Messenger. “This change is more reflective of the university’s operational structure.”


Luce blasts the university’s legislative strategy and expresses concern about the compliance of certain public officials. Luce is critical of Athens County Commissioner Charlie Adkins who is reported to have said he did not have any objections to the legislation.

“I am disappointed that a County Commissioner would approve such a document without any discussion with the Athens County Historical Society and Museum or other concerned members of the community,” Luce said. “Clearly he misunderstood the document or is fine with handing all control of the properties over to the university and ignoring public input.” Luce stated that he has found Adkins to be supportive of preservation issues in the past and thinks he may simply not have realized the impact of the language.

Luce also is critical of the new legislation which says that the Ohio University president “may create an advisory committee” compared to the current law, enacted in 1988, which states the Board of Trustees “shall” create such a group.

“The word ‘may’ in this statement is far weaker than the ‘shall’ of the original document,” Luce added. “Obviously, the reality is that if this amendment passes, the president of Ohio University ‘may not’ create an advisory committee if s/he so chooses.”

Luce also disagrees with the portion of the new legislation that says the president or his designee shall serve as “chairperson of the advisory committee.”

“This means the president or his designee will have control over the agenda, meetings, and persons chosen to serve on the committee.  This essentially preempts any disagreement with the president’s wishes or desire to control outcomes of meetings,” Luce noted.

“This may be in keeping with the current leadership style of the university,” Luce criticized.  “But, it is far from democratic and far from inviting multiple points of view.”

Luce lashed out at the university’s motivations. “This amendment is a blatant attempt to avoid any real accountability for making any decisions the president of the university wishes to make about the Asylum Grounds even though such decisions affect the entire community,” Luce concluded.

Yesterday, the Athens Asylum (The Ridges) was named to the 2013 List of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites by Preservation Ohio, the state’s oldest statewide non-profit preservation organization.