February 3, 2019 at 6:01 pm

Ellis Hall Renovation Celebrated, Memories Shared at Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon ceremony for the grand re-opening of Ellis Hall on Jan. 18, 2019.

Ribbon ceremony for the grand re-opening of Ellis Hall on Jan. 18, 2019. Photo by Hannah Ruhoff

Ohio University students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends gathered to commemorate the grand reopening of the newly renovated Ellis Hall on Jan. 18.

As the campus community gathered in the building’s new entrance lobby, attendees shared memories about their time in one of OHIO’s oldest and largest academic buildings. Those in attendance were also some of the first to witness Ohio University’s new state-of-the-art facility that features seminar rooms, a grand entry hall, student and faculty collaboration spaces, and a student publishing space.

The event featured multiple guest speakers, including Board of Trustees Chair Dave Scholl; President M. Duane Nellis; Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Chaden Djalali; Dr. Joseph Shields, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Jay Edwards, state representative for the 94th District of the Ohio House of Representatives.

Ellis Hall, which currently houses the English, Philosophy and Classics and World Religions departments, also now features key sustainability efforts and accessibility upgrades, among several other additions. A new detail of the lobby includes various maps of the state of Ohio, which were brightened by a green spotlight during the ceremony.

“As a geographer, seeing these maps on the wall of this historic area and historical photographs is just wonderful,” said Nellis.

He added that OHIO’s strategic pathways and priorities seek to redefine public higher education for the 21st Century so that the university, which is committed to academic excellence, continues to transform lives and the world.

“In celebrating these upgrades to Ellis Hall, we reaffirm our commitment to being a national leader, and creating a space for the study of the humanities that are accessible to all,” said Nellis. “We take another step in enhancing the overall academic quality of Ohio University and the support of our talented faculty and staff, drawing the best and the brightest minds to this singular place.”

Shields told the crowd that Ohio University’s founders believed in a liberal arts curriculum as a means for transforming students into leaders and fostering and enlightening society.

“The first students to attend OHIO took courses that included philosophy, Latin and writing — courses that continue to be taught in Ellis Hall, a landmark building that in 2019 marks its 115th year of championing the mission and vision of Ohio’s very first university,” Shields added.

Djalali said Ellis Hall serves as a pillar of OHIO’s past and is now a portal to its future. He added that the building first opened in 1904, the same year Ohio University celebrated its centennial anniversary. Ellis Hall was the first building on campus paid for entirely by state appropriations and it was originally dedicated to the instruction of teachers.

Looking into the audience that filled the front lobby, Board Chair Dave Scholl expressed his pleasure to see so many familiar faces. He said it was an honor to be a part of the ceremony, as OHIO’s College of Arts and Sciences is his alma mater.

“I owe a great amount of my professional success to this institution and an even greater amount of my happiness to the memories and relationships that continue to be made here at this university,” Scholl added. “I extend the deepest of Bobcat gratitude to our state lawmakers, without whom the past and present forms of Ellis Hall might not exist.”

Representing state lawmakers was Jay Edwards, Ohio’s state representative for Athens, Meigs, Washington and Vinton counties. The OHIO alumnus said his first class at Ohio University was in Ellis Hall.

“It looked much different and now I’m thinking about signing up for an English class,” Edwards said. “I can’t imagine the pride that the state legislatures must have had, obviously I wasn’t around back in 1904, but I can’t imagine the pride they must have invested in this university and this building right here in Athens.”

Following public remarks, the speakers and other stakeholders made their way to the front of the room to take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Each was given a pair of scissors and together they officially reopened Ellis Hall by cutting a green banner that read, “So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love.”

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