New House Acquired For Presidential Residence

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The Ohio University Foundation today announced it has entered into a lease agreement for a home and surrounding property, which will serve as the Ohio University presidential residence. The agreement includes a purchase option, which could be exercised contingent on approval from the Foundation Board of Trustees, according to a university release.

The previous residence located at 29 Park Place, as recently announced, is undergoing assessment for both environmental remediation and necessary structural repairs. President Roderick J. McDavis and First Lady Deborah A. McDavis had previously been temporarily relocated to the Ohio University Inn, but will now reside in the home on 31 Coventry Lane in the Sycamore Hills Sub-Division in Athens.

At their most recent meeting, Ohio University’s Board of Trustees authorized Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding to find suitable housing for the presidential residence. If the Foundation exercises the option to purchase the residence under the $1.2 million agreement, it would do so using unrestricted working capital.

Vice President Golding noted that “the residence at 29 Park Place has been a topic of conversation for the Ohio University Board of Trustees dating back to March 2014, when trustees discussed the fact that the center of the Athens Campus had shifted with the construction of the Baker University Center and the renovation of the building that is now the Walter International Education Center, among other changes to the Park Place landscape.”

With this shift, trustee discussions have focused on an appropriate location for a future presidential residence in Athens in close proximity to the campus.

“The need to relocate the President and First Lady immediately due to 29 Park Place’s environmental issues has accelerated the trustee’s timeline for making this decision,” Golding added.

The property at 29 Park Place serves not only as a residence for the president and family, but also as a facility to host official functions, particularly those relating to alumni outreach and donor relations.

Trustee Chair David Brightbill said “the decision to relocate the President and First Lady is not about a temporary fix to a current situation, but rather an investment that provides the University and the Foundation with a number of very interesting possibilities and opportunities for the future development of the campus and our goal for increased donor and alumni development activities on campus.”

“In recent years, the Board has closely monitored the condition of 29 Park Place, studied trends at other institutions relating to residential requirements of presidents, and anticipated that updating housing policies would be needed to better suit the president and the University,” Brightbill said. “The bat incursion has merely accelerated a decision-making process that was already underway.”

The Ohio University Foundation that entered into this agreement, explained Golding, because of the intended nature of the home’s future use for alumni outreach and donor relations.

The University will continue to maintain the President’s Residence Budget, which covers the operating cost of the presidential residence.