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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

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McDavis plaque dedication

President Roderick J. McDavis announces that four new plaques have been added to the West Portico Honor Wall

Photographer: Brad Chaffin

McDavis announcing addition of diversity plaques

President Roderick J. McDavis makes comments about distinguished visitors at plaque dedication ceremony

Photographer: Brad Chaffin

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University adds four commemorative plaques to West Portico wall

Since 1965, wall has recognized distinguished visitors to campus


A little boy sat waiting for his parents by the West Portico of Templeton Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium the day before the summer's final Concert Under the Elms. 

He wandered over to the line of plaques adorning the West Portico wall.
   
"Oh look, Mom, what I found – John Glenn," he said, getting a paper towel to polish the bronze plaque.

Judy Daso, a community member and retired librarian, was also at the West Portico, anticipating the mounting of four new plaques.

"Can I get your picture?" Daso asked the boy.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because this wall is all about heroes and you found a hero," she said.

Daso's interest in the plaques led her to speak up and talk to Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis last year. She was concerned that the diversity of special campus visitors was not being properly recognized.

Daso’s efforts paid off. 

Shortly before the concert started, McDavis announced the addition of four new plaques to the West Portico Honor Wall. The plaques join 25 others that honor notable authors, orators, politicians, artists, musicians and others who have spoken or performed publicly on the Athens campus.

The most recent plaques honored anthropologist and author Margaret Mead, labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, author and Nobel Laureate in Literature Pearl S. Buck and opera singer Marian Anderson. These distinguished visitors were recognized for their messages of diversity, inclusiveness and equality. 

Quotes spoken by each honoree adorn the plaques to accomplish just that.

For Cesar Chavez, who visited April 9, 1974, the plaque reads, "Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures."

Marian Anderson's plaque reads, "When I sing … I want them to see my soul. And that is colorless." She visited campus on Feb. 17, 1960.

Three years after Anderson's visit on Jan. 10, Margaret Mead came to campus. Her plaque reads, "The solution to adult problems tomorrow depends on large measure upon how our children grow up today."

The plaque for Pearl S. Buck, who visited April 19, 1966, reads, "The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members."

"Ohio University and Athens has been blessed by visits from notable women and people of color," McDavis said. "Yet, the commemorative plaques on the wall behind me do not represent the full spectrum of diversity those visitors represented."

Daso pointed this out to McDavis when she spoke to him during his open office hours.

"The echoes of their words, their artistry and their spirits still resonate today," McDavis said of the plaque honorees. "It is fitting that we honor their presence with a constant reminder of the message and gift they brought to our community."

The commemoration of distinguished visitors through the creation and installation of plaques on the West Portico Honor Wall began in 1965 under then OHIO President Vernon Alden. He intended the plaques to serve as inspiration for all who pass through the university.

Daso witnessed firsthand the inspiration the plaques can give someone with the example of the little boy. 

"I think people are inspired by different things," she said. "You never know what's going to strike a chord or give you that little push to do some little extra effort."