Rock and Melissa Jones with the portrait that now hangs in the Slocum Reading Room. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

For more than 120 years, the faces of Aristotle, Shakespeare, Beethoven, and Abraham Lincoln have gazed down on OWU students from the skylight of the Slocum Reading Room. Now, a new face with a kind and benevolent expression, will be looking back at students on their own level.

The portrait of OWU's 16th president, Rock Jones, was unveiled in a ceremony April 18 before a room full of alumni, faculty, staff, students, and trustees.

More than 20 alumni donors completely funded the painting of the portrait, and Debra Force '75, president of Debra Force Fine Art in New York, managed the project, which led to the selection of portrait artist Steven Polson to create the painting.

In a recorded message played at the unveiling ceremony, Polson said, "I've painted other university presidents, but the attention paid here, the strong sense of community at this school, and the admiration for its president truly stood out."

Jones said that as he looked around the room his mind was flooded with memories, reflecting that for him and his wife, Melissa, "our lives were touched and enriched in ways that we never would have imagined."

He left the audience with a final thought about the importance of OWU's ongoing work.

"I don't think anything is more crucial to the future of our democracy, to the well-being of our planet, to the health and the strength of the human fabric than the sustainability of places like this."