Ohio University Mourns Loss Of Former President Ping

Presented By Rathkamp Financial

(ATHENS) – Ohio University President Emeritus Dr. Charles J. Ping, whose visionary approach and gentlemanly demeanor helped shape the school into the transformative institution it is today, died July 26, 2021, at his home in Athens, Ohio. 

Ping arrived on campus in 1975 to an institution with great potential but in deep turmoil from Vietnam-era student protests, declining enrollment and staggering debt. In 19 years as president, he launched multiple capital campaigns to raise money and established many new academic programs to attract more students.

Vice President Emeritus of Development Jack Ellis, BSCOM ’57, who was chief development officer throughout Ping’s tenure, said the first capital campaign served to help build confidence among University staff and alumni.

“Our financial situation was so dismal that we didn’t have financial resources to even undertake a campaign. To take on a campaign of that magnitude… if it was not successful, imagine the impact of a failed campaign. It took a lot of courage to undertake something like that,” Ellis said. 

When Ping arrived in 1975, Ellis said the University was embroiled in a crisis of confidence. 

OHIO Distinguished Professor Emeritus John Gaddis, who founded the Contemporary History Institute and is now a professor of history at Yale University, summed it up succinctly: “Charles and Claire Ping rebuilt a university.”

Ping created the tier general education system for undergraduate students to give each student a well-rounded learning experience over a broad range of subjects. 

With the rate of enrollment steadily rising, Ping oversaw some additions and renovations on campus. During his presidency, the Aquatic Center was built, Peden Stadium was enlarged, state-of-the-art equipment was provided for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, and construction began on the Charles J. Ping Student Recreation Center.

Services will be held July 31st at 2:30pm at the First Presbyterian Church at 2 North Court Street in Athens.

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