Capital Improvements Are Transforming Campus

Anyone who has strolled the JAYwalk, or followed squirrels scurrying along the paths leading to the residence halls, or studied under the illuminating stained glass of the Slocum reading room knows just how beautiful, nurturing, and restorative the buildings and grounds of Ohio Wesleyan can be.

The capital improvement priorities of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign will ensure our historic campus is brought fully into the 21st century, ready to welcome the students of tomorrow.

Significant philanthropic support has already resulted in dramatic additions to campus, such as the Gillespie Honors House and Simpson Querrey Fitness Center, with plans calling for overdue and vital updates to historically important structures such as Branch Rickey Arena and the House of Black Culture.

From new residential facilities to complete renovations of iconic campus buildings such as Merrick Hall, the improvements touch every area of campus, resulting in modern and inviting living and learning environments and revitalized and shared spaces of which we can all be proud.

Living-Learning Communities Shine

Rowland Avenue: SLU-ville

Rowland Avenue has been transformed with the addition of three new small living unit (SLU) duplexes. These spacious, freestanding buildings offer full kitchens, common areas for house meetings, and a mix of single and double bedrooms. In an OWU concept dating back nearly 50 years, groups of 10 to 12 students come together around a theme to live together, participate in cultural and educational activities, and share their house’s mission with the greater OWU community. The SLU communities must reapply to live in the Rowland Avenue SLU-plexes each year.

The Dittrick House opened in fall 2016, thanks to a $1.5 million gift from Doug Dittrick ’55, followed by the SLU-plex at 94 Rowland made possible by gifts from Phil Meek ’59, Nancy La Porte Meek ’59, Rich Alexander ’82, Mike McCluggage ’69, and Tim and Lisa Sloan P ’13, P ’16.

The Jim and Eilleen Dicke House opened in August, with a $1.5 million gift from Jim and Janet Dicke in honor of Jim Dicke’s parents.

Charlie Lennon ’18, a theatre and dance major from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, is part of the Sexuality and Gender Equality SLU in the Dittrick House. “With us all together, the SLU community is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. We can talk to the other SLUs, interact with them more, and be able to have something beyond the family that’s within our own house,” he says.

“Now it’s a home that’s a block wide.”

Gillespie Honors House, 81 Oak Hill

The dedication of the Gillespie Honors House on Oct. 19.

Robert W. Gillespie ’66 and Ann L. Wible Gillespie ’67, of Gates Mills, Ohio, returned to campus in October with their family for the dedication of the Gillespie Honors House, made possible with their $2 million gift.

The 6,934-square-foot two-story house has living space for 27 sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are part of the University’s Leland F. and Helen Schubert Honors Program, and seminar space to benefit all honors students.

Cindy Huynh ’19, a genetics and pre-med double-major and a chemistry and sociology double-minor from West Chester, Ohio, is the moderator of the house. In that role, she is working with her housemates and the Student Honors Board to create educational events to host at the new residence.

“The Gillespie Honors House provides a space to foster a community of students with bright minds who are passionate about learning,” said Huynh.

Sarah Watt ’19, a biology and pre-med major from Libertyville, Illinois, is also enjoying living in the latest addition to campus. “It really surrounds me with a community that supports me in all of my studies; I really enjoy all of the friends I’ve made here,” she says.

House of Black Culture, 65 Oak Hill

Rendering of the planned new House of Black Culture, courtesy Thomas & Marker Construction.

The additions to Oak Hill Avenue will continue in 2018 with the construction of a new House of Black Culture in the location of the current one. Since its creation in 1971, and subsequent renaming as the Butler A. Jones House of Black Culture in 1994, the house has served an important role as a community and meeting space for students of color.

Genaye Ervin ’19, a business administration, communications, and sports management major from Cleveland, chose to live in the house to be around people with shared experiences. “I felt like I would grow more here because I’m around people that have the same majors as I do or were brought up the same way I was brought up,” she says.

A committee is leading the ongoing fundraising initiative for the house following a leadership gift by Ed Haddock ’69, a member of the Board of Trustees, along with his wife, Edye, and son, Ted, through their Edward E. Haddock Jr. Family Foundation. The committee is co-chaired by Morton “Pete” Smith ’71, one of the founders of the house and a former moderator; his wife Barbara Smith ’74, Board of Trustees member Aaron Granger ’93, and Khadija Adams ’04, also a former moderator. To learn more or get involved, visit

Slocum Hall / Career Connection Center | Goal: $10 million

The OWU Career Connection Center will be designed to fully realize the University’s commitment to a practical liberal arts education by creating a center dedicated to fostering pathways from the classroom to meaningful employment after graduation. Designed to ensure that every student is able and encouraged to take advantage of real-world experience through an internship, the center will further differentiate OWU from its peer institutions as one that prepares students to be ready for professional careers on day one after graduation. Internships offered by alumni provide an opportunity for graduates to stay engaged with OWU and share their experience with today’s students.

The Career Connection Center’s location in Slocum Hall near the Office of Admission will provide a highly visible home sure to be noted by prospective students and their families. Renovation will breathe new life and purpose into the grand building, as has already been realized on the first-floor Admission offices.

Branch Rickey Arena | Goal: $3 million

Architectural rendering of the planned renovation of Branch Rickey Arena, courtesy The Collaborative Inc.

The eye-catching structure opened in 1976 and is currently home to the men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball teams, and soon to be home to men’s wrestling next season. Renovation of the iconic area, named after the legendary alumnus who partnered with Jackie Robinson to break baseball’s color barrier, will give student-athletes a new home court on which to shine.

The planned renovation will include a complete update of the arena, including bleachers, lights, floor, scoreboard, sound system, and heating and cooling. The locker rooms, training room, lobby, and restrooms will also be renovated, making the structure as impressive inside as it is outside. The renovation will help OWU remain competitive in attracting student-athletes to campus while providing them with the facilities to raise their competition to the next level. Early support for the project has been secured with an initial commitment from Todd Luttinger P ’10, a member of the Board of Trustees, and his wife Tina Luttinger P ’10.

Innovative Spaces for Teaching and Learning | Goal: $3 million

Renovating classrooms and other learning spaces across campus allows OWU to match the ways students learn today and the ways professors interact with them. Whether through the integration of the latest technology or redesign, support for creative thinking in the University’s laboratories for learning ensures they are worthy of the inquisitive students and professors who occupy them. Spaces such as the noise-proof “ICEcube” presentation room in Beeghly Library are designed with today’s students in mind. The glass-walled, soundproofed room on the first floor takes its name from “innovate, connect, and explore,” and features moveable dry erase boards, a flat-panel monitor, and device-charging stations.

More Than Two Years Later, Fully Funded Capital Projects Are Vital Part of Campus

Merrick Hall

The Merrick Hall lobby was updated with touch screens, offices for The OWU Connection staff, and a cafe as part of the $8 million renovation completed in 2015.

Merrick Hall serves as Ohio Wesleyan students’ gateway to the world, as the campus home to The OWU Connection. Streams of students course through the lobby each day, catching up with friends or with homework, talking to Merrick Mentors (student advisors) about off-campus travel-learning, or grabbing coffee and food between classes (Merrick even has a cafe).

Merrick embodies OWU history – the blue limestone was locally quarried – while hosting the newest technology. The more-than-130-year-old building, which sat vacant for more than three decades, was named after Frederick Merrick, president of Ohio Wesleyan from 1860 to 1873. An anonymous $8 million gift brought the 19,684-square-foot building into the 21st century with a complete renovation and reopening in 2015.

The state-of-the-art classrooms on the second floor are used for courses, presentations, meetings, and admission events. The building’s third floor, once a natural science museum, is one of the best event spaces on campus, with vaulted ceilings nearly 22 feet high. In its down time, it’s a great study spot.

A popular stop on student tours, the Merrick lobby boasts interactive screens that display footage of student life and academics. The Merrick porch offers one of the best views on campus, looking out on stately sycamores and colorful flower beds, with rockers for studying or catching up with friends.

Darrell Albon, director of International and Off-Campus Programs and administrative director of the OWU Connection programs, says Merrick is a fitting home for the University’s signature program. “Right in the midst of the academic side of campus, it’s a historic academic building that current and prospective students identify with The OWU Connection,” he says.

Students who have participated in multiple aspects of The OWU Connection work in the lobby as Merrick Mentors, providing advice to their peers considering Travel-Learning Courses, Theoryto- Practice Grants, or off-campus study opportunities.

“I love working as a Merrick Mentor because I’m really thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had to travel with The OWU Connection,” says Meg Teitelman ’18.

“I also love working in Merrick because it’s a great community space at OWU,” she says.

Simpson Querrey Fitness Center and Edwards Gymnasium

Healthy mind, healthy body, healthy spirit are three qualities of a liberal arts education realized on campus in the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center.

The 12,774-square-foot complex, built with an $8 million gift from Lou Simpson ’58 and his wife, Kimberly Querrey, combines with the renovation of Edwards Gymnasium as a hub of fitness, education, and community since the dedication in October 2015.

“The facility has created another great space for the campus community to connect and interact, all in a healthy environment,” says Chris Fink, professor of health and human kinetics and chair of the department. The department is housed on the main floor of the renovated and connected Edwards Gymnasium, which also has conference rooms and office space. Down the hall is the 4,350-square-foot fitness center, with cardio equipment, weight machines, and other high-end exercise equipment. The Department of Theatre and Dance enjoys the new 2,425-square foot Jannuzi Dance Studio.

SQ provides health and human kinetics majors with new opportunities to serve as leaders and instructors, putting classroom learning into practice on campus. “Some of our students lead faculty and staff through fitness programming in the facility as part of our FitOWU program,” Fink says.

Victoria Hilario ’19, is a triple major in exercise science, pre-medicine, and history, who also plays rugby and hopes to become a sports medicine doctor specializing in pediatrics after graduating. “I hope that Simpson Querrey continues to be a space for HHK majors to study and a place to help those on campus and in the community work towards their fitness goals,” she says.

Return to the Winter 2018 OWU Magazine