The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) today announced that they will rename Founders Hall on their shared campus as Louella Hodges Reese Hall in grateful acknowledgment of Lou Reese’s exceptional and enduring support of the Newark campus and higher education.
“Mrs. Reese’s long-standing commitment to Ohio State and our Newark campus has improved the lives of countless Buckeyes,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson. “The naming of Louella Hodges Reese Hall will serve as a prominent and most welcome reminder of her and the Reese family’s incredible impact across our university, their passion for education and their deep devotion to Licking County. As always, we thank her and express our deep gratitude for her support.”
Improving access to higher education is one of the Reese family’s many indelible marks on the Newark campus. In 2010, Lou and late husband J. Gilbert Reese challenged Licking County and the surrounding communities by offering a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10 million to build the scholarship endowment for COTC and Ohio State Newark. The Next Generation Challenge ultimately raised $21 million for student scholarships. The Reeses’ $10 million commitment established the J. Gilbert and Louella H. Reese Next Generation Challenge Scholarship Fund at the Newark Campus Development Fund. Since 2012, 1,863 Reese scholarships have been awarded, totaling more than $3.7 million.
Lou Reese was the catalyst for COTC’s Italian Immersion Program, which offers selected students two weeks in Reggello, Italy, where they reside with host families. In alternating years, Italian students spend two weeks living with central Ohio families and touring Ohio. The program, which marked its tenth trip in the summer of 2019, has served 140 students. The Gilbert Reese Family Foundation has paid all program fees since its inception.
“The late J. Gilbert Reese has long been called a founding father of the Newark campus,” said COTC President John M. Berry, PhD. “However, I would add that Lou Reese, as his steadfast counterpart, always stood beside Gib as an equal partner in advocacy and devotion to this campus. Lou took the lead in developing COTC’s Italian Immersion Program because she recognized how such an opportunity would immeasurably enrich the lives of technical college students. Lou’s lifetime of support for our campus, our students and our community is an inspiration.”
Ongoing impact and commitment
In February, as part of the campus’s celebration of Black History Month, Ohio State Newark and COTC welcomed the addition of a Harriet Tubman sculpture, which the Gilbert Reese Family Foundation provided on loan to the campus. Created by internationally known artist Gary Lee Price, the piece is part of a collection of life-size bronze works Price calls the “Great Contributors.” Thanks to the Reese Family Foundation’s ongoing support, the Newark campus is home to the most extensive single collection of Price’s “Great Contributors” sculptures.
“Lou’s lasting impact on the Newark campus is felt in numerous ways,” said Ohio State Newark Dean and Director William L. MacDonald, PhD. “Our deepest thanks to the Reese family, and Lou Reese in particular. Whether through scholarships, capital improvements or programming, Lou’s deep commitment to improving our campus and our community has never wavered and is a model for all.”
Gib Reese chaired the 1966 fundraising campaign which allowed for the construction of Founders Hall – the campus’s first building. As the largest building on campus, the 90,000-square-foot structure is home to the COTC and Ohio State Newark executive offices, classrooms and other administrative offices. The building will undergo a $23 million renovation that will renew the structure’s lifespan, allow for the expansion of academic programming, and meet the needs of students well into the 21st century. Upon completion, the renovated structure will be renamed Louella Hodges Reese Hall.
“I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to see my mom recognized in such a special way,” said Sarah Reese Wallace. “My dad received a lot of the recognition for the development and continued growth of the Newark campus, but he was able to do what he did because he always knew he had my mom’s support. She is a remarkable woman, and I’m excited to see the wonderful impact this newly renovated building will have on the campus and the local community.”
Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor’s degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors.
COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.