Ohio Wesleyan Dedicates New Small Living Unit

Doug Dittrick ’55 and Rock Jones

On what Tom Tritton ’69 called the “most glorious possible October day,” the Ohio Wesleyan community came together on Oct. 6 to dedicate the Dittrick House – OWU’s first new student housing construction in 50 years.

Tritton, chair of the OWU Board of Trustees, welcomed guests to the outdoor event, held in front of the Dittrick House, a 5,795-square-foot duplex containing two small living units (SLUs) of 12 students each. Its construction – and the construction of a second “SLUplex” underway at the corner of Rowland Avenue and S. Washington Street – was made possible by gifts from Doug Dittrick ’55 and others who believe strongly in the value of a residential liberal arts education.

“Their generosity allows us to celebrate this house – and all of the great things on this campus,” Tritton said.

President Rock Jones noted the Life Trustee’s “catalytic role” in advancing Ohio Wesleyan’s residential campus and his longtime connection with the University, his pioneering role in the cable television industry, and his extraordinary legacy of service, which includes an integral role in Pwoje Espwa (Project Hope), a Haitian orphanage that houses 350 children and provides health care for dozens of children each day in its clinic.

Jones thanked Dittrick for being “supportive of Ohio Wesleyan in every conceivable way,” calling him “an exemplar of everything we would hope for in an alumnus.”

The Dittrick House welcomed its first residents this fall, including members of the Sexual and Gender Equality House. (From left) Melanie Doweiko ’17, Julianne Zala ’17, Marisa Grillo ’19, and Alyssa Clark ’17.

Dittrick told the crowd at the dedication that he still recalls being a “Delaware townie” 65 years ago when he enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan, following in the footsteps of his father, a 1931 alumnus and former OWU faculty member. Despite all Dittrick accomplished since graduating, he said Ohio Wesleyan and his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, “are still the driving forces for me.”

Dittrick said he plans to continue supporting the University and encouraged others to do the same, especially students, as they become young alumni. “You’d be a godsend to us and Ohio Wesleyan,” he said. “We need all of you to support us.”

Additional donors recognized for student housing gifts were Phil Meek ’59 and Nancy La Porte Meek ’59, Rich Alexander ’82, Mike McCluggage ’69, and Tim and Lisa Sloan P ’13, P ’16, parents of two recent OWU graduates.

After the ceremony, both Alexander and McCluggage said their time as trustees has helped underscore for them the need to enhance OWU’s student housing to support a vibrant living-learning community, retain current students, and attract future Bishops.

The gifts recognized all were made as part of Ohio Wesleyan’s seven-year, $200 million Connect Today, Create Tomorrow comprehensive campaign. To date, the campaign has raised $115 million, including $3.2 million of its $10 million goal for residential facilities.

Alexander, a 12-year trustee, said when the opportunity arose “to collaborate with Doug and be among the initial drivers of OWU’s first new student housing in five decades, it was something I couldn’t pass up.”

“The SLUs are so important,” Alexander continued. “They are the runway leading to the residential campus, they are welcoming, they reflect our diversity, and they contribute to our vibrant living-learning community. … The SLUs are a terrific reminder of what the Ohio Wesleyan experience is all about.”

McCluggage, who lived in Bashford Hall and the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house as a student, said he’s equally pleased to support new SLU construction. “It’s important that the living experience is a positive experience for our students,” McCluggage said, adding that he is impressed by the small living units and the opportunity for the house members to “get to know one another in a collaborative, collegial setting.”

The Dittrick House is home this year to the Interfaith House (IF) and the Sexuality and Gender Equality House (SAGE). The student-moderators of the two SLUs shared their thoughts with the crowd on the value of small living units and then invited everyone inside to tour their bright, spacious dwellings.

Speaking on behalf of SAGE, Lissette Gonzalez ’17 said the Dittrick House, with its open-concept layout, has nurtured an even stronger sense of community within the SLU and enhanced meetings to discuss its mission, “How do we coexist and create a safe space for dialogue?”

In discussing IF, Chase Smith ’17 referenced Ohio Wesleyan’s aim to place education in the context of values. “Nowhere do I see this more than in the SLUs,” Smith said. “SLU members live the mission and values of Ohio Wesleyan University.”

Interfaith House residents use their common space for house projects, faith-based club meetings, events with the Chaplin’s office, or just to relax and have a house meeting. From left: Emily Phillips ’17, Olivia Lease ’17, Courtney Dunne ’17, Dom Mejia ’17, Anna Davies ’19, and Sean McCartt ’18.

An OWU Tradition

With a history that dates back nearly 50 years, Ohio Wesleyan’s small living units (SLUs) are an integral part of campus life. Conceived by faculty members to enhance the residential campus experience, SLUs are living-learning communities of 10 to 12 students passionate about common topics and issues.SLU members engage in lively discussions with their peers, participate in cultural and educational activities, and create programs and events to educate the campus and Delaware communities about their house’s most important issues.

A SLU of Knowledge

Ohio Wesleyan’s seven SLUs explore issues ranging from social justice and environmental awareness to cross-cultural experiences and language. The groups living in the new Dittrick House explore issues tied to faith and personal identity.

Interfaith House (IF)

Interfaith House (IF) asks “How do we coexist?” In matters secular and spiritual, concrete and abstract, IF members strive to create an environment in which diversity can thrive. House projects have included a community dinner to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid and a “Jesus Ate with Sinners” event linked to lessons from the Last Supper.

Sexuality and Gender Equality House (SAGE)

Sexuality and Gender Equality House (SAGE) works to uplift students from marginalized identities, provide a safe space, and serve as a resource for promoting sexuality and gender equity. Members work to bring programming to campus with special consideration for the women’s and LGBT movements. House projects have included Transgender Celebration Week and “Take Back the Night,” a speak-out and march in protest of sexual violence.