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Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

Partly Cloudy, 82 °F

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Ribbon Cutting

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, Margaret M. Walter, Robert D. Walter and Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis cut the ribbon around the Walter International Education Center at Saturday's grand opening.

Photographer: Patrick Oden

Walters opening

Ohio University alumnus and Sigma Chi member Robert D. Walter and his wife, Margaret M. Walter, also an Ohio University graduate, generously provided $2 million through the Walter Family Foundation for this project.

Photographer: Patrick Oden

Walter opening

Guests at Saturday's ribbon-cutting were treated to tours of the new office building, the opportunity to talk with international student groups and leaders, African music and an array of international cuisine.

Photographer: Patrick Oden

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Ohio University celebrates Walter International Education Center

Saturday ribbon-cutting ceremony honors donors


Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and the university and surrounding communities gathered Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the Walter International Education Center (WIEC). The center occupies the former Sigma Chi fraternity house at 15 Park Place, which operated from 1949 to 2003.

Ohio University alumnus and Sigma Chi member Robert D. Walter and his wife, Margaret M. Walter, also an Ohio University graduate, generously provided $2 million through the Walter Family Foundation for this project in partnership with the Sigma Chi Fraternity and the university.  Building renovations began in January 2009 and were completed earlier this year.

“It is gratifying to support our alma mater in this way,” said Robert Walter. “We understand the important role that donor support plays in fulfilling the University’s mission and achieving its vision.”

On behalf of the university, McDavis thanked the Walters for their continued generosity and support of OHIO and its academic mission. With this most recent gift, the Walters have committed more than $17 million to the university since 1988.

"Bob and Peggy Walter understand the need to sustain and to provide resources to support international education as well as other important initiatives and programs at Ohio University," McDavis said. "Their gifts have supported the building of Margaret M. Walter Hall, served as the inspiration behind The Walter Center for Strategic Leadership in the College of Business and will lead to the renovation of the Convocation Center and the construction of the Multipurpose Center."

The WIEC will house the Office of Education Abroad (OEA), under the direction of Catherine Marshall, and the Office of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS), under the direction of Krista McCallum Beatty. Both offices moved into the facility in early March.

“This center will create unique opportunities for innovative global programming and information sharing and further establish OHIO as an international education leader,” said Dan Weiner, executive director of the Center for International Studies, which oversees the OEA.

The shared space will allow unique programming and collaboration opportunities for the two offices, further support the university's long-standing international and academic priorities and relationships. The OEA and ISFS frequently work together promoting and supporting international education exchange, coordinate students’ international travel, take part in international committees and execute the University’s annual International Week festivities.

According to Brian Bridges, vice provost for diversity, access and equity, bringing the two offices together benefits OHIO by having a central location for international services, and it has the potential to serve as a place to facilitate cross-cultural interactions between domestic and international students.

“The WIEC will become Ohio University’s international transit portal, where faculty, staff and students bring the world to us and vice versa,” Bridges, whose department oversees the ISFS office, said.

With the much-needed renovation of the building, university officials developed a plan with sustainability in mind. The WIEC building is the first on the university's campus to gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – or LEED – Silver certification.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification promotes sustainable building practices and provides contractors and owners with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. LEED certification can be applied to both commercial and residential building types.

Additionally, landscaping for the rear of the building has been designed by students with faculty guidance from various departments on campus, with the intention of adding to the building's LEED points. The slope will be planted with a wide variety of native Ohio species, which will be used as teaching tools for native species education.

Ohio University has a rich history in international education long before it became mainstream within higher education. One of the university's earliest international students came to Athens in 1895 from Japan and his presence on campus was just the beginning of the global connection the university established.

International student organizations have been on Ohio University's campus since the early 1920s. By 1952, the diversity of the student population expanded to include students from 37 nationalities and, today, represent more than 100 nations.

Robert and Margaret Walter both graduated from Ohio University in 1967, Robert with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and Margaret with a bachelor of fine arts. Robert Walter earned his master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1970, and received an honorary doctorate from Ohio University in 1997.

Walter is a trustee emeritus and former chair of Ohio University’s Board of Trustees. He is the founder and retired Chairman of Cardinal Health, Inc. served as the chief executive officer from 1971 until 2006 and is currently a member of the board.

Guests at Saturday's ribbon-cutting were treated to tours of the new office building, the opportunity to talk with international student groups and leaders, African music and an array of international cuisine.