Louella H. Reese

Portrait of Louella H. Reese in front of the the Reese Amphitheatre.

There’s a popular idiom that states, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” However, in the case of Louella H. Reese, a slight modification of that statement seems more appropriate because for more than half a century Mrs. Reese was very much beside her husband, J. Gilbert Reese, shaping educational, recreational and artistic offerings that make Licking County a special place to live, learn and play.

Mr. and Mrs. Reese supported a handful of capital projects on the Newark campus, including the construction of Founders Hall, the Everett D. Reese Carillon, the Martha Grace Reese Amphitheatre and the John Gilbert Reese Center. They also spearheaded a community-wide effort to increase the scholarship endowment for COTC and Ohio State Newark by proposing a personal $10-million match of all scholarship gifts between April 30, 2010, and June 30, 2012. The Next Generation Challenge, as it was aptly named, achieved profound success, surpassing the $20-million campaign goal by $1 million.

The Next Generation Challenge is the most successful campaign in the history of the Newark campus.

Mrs. Reese’s passion for public art has shaped her philanthropic support of the college. Because of her generosity, the Newark campus has the largest single collection of Gary Lee Price “Great Contributor” sculptures in the world. The life-size bronze statues which depict notable historical figures including Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein and Claude Monet inspire greatness and elevate the student experience.

Mrs. Reese’s love of Italy also inspired her to establish COTC’s first international cultural exchange program, giving students the opportunity to experience Italian life and culture during a biannual trip to Reggello, Italy. The Italian Immersion Program allows for alternating exchanges of COTC students traveling to Italy and Italian students traveling to Licking County. By covering all program fees including flights, in-country travel, accommodations, meals and excursions, students can dream bigger than they could have ever imagined.

On April 4, 2021, in honor of Mrs. Reese’s 90th birthday, COTC and Ohio State Newark publicly announced their plans to renovate Founders Hall and rename the facility Louella Hodges Reese Hall. The renaming of Founders Hall in her honor allows the leadership of COTC and Ohio State Newark to recognize her for her unparalleled support of capital projects, scholarships, student enrichment programs, public art and community events. Hodges Hall is expected to open in summer 2024.