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OHIO Foundation Trustees view unveiling of president and first lady portraits [PHOTOS]

First couple’s final day on campus is Feb. 17


Ohio University unveiled the official portraits of President Roderick J. McDavis and first lady Deborah McDavis during a private reception with the Foundation Board of Trustees on Thursday, Feb. 9 in the newly renovated McCracken Hall.

The portraits, which were painted by Cleveland-based artist Rob Hartshorn, will be publicly displayed on the Athens Campus during the next several weeks. Hartshorn said he started working on the paintings about four years ago by conducting sittings with the first couple. He said it took about two years for him to complete the paintings as he worked on them simultaneously.

The President’s painting will join the other former OHIO presidents’ paintings outside the Baker University Center Ballroom, while the first lady’s portrait will be hung on the first floor of McCracken Hall near the dissertation defense rooms.

Hartshorn shared his thoughts on working collaboratively with the first couple.

“I want to thank you both for letting me paint your portraits,” Hartshorn said. “Thank you for letting me be a co-creator with you on these. These are some of my best works and one of the reasons for that is you. There are many different ways this could have gone. All that you are seeing is choices that we made together. Once those choices were made, they just let me paint.”

President McDavis thanked Hartshorn for his work and professionalism.

“Rob, we can't thank you enough. He was right. It was a collaboration,” President McDavis said. “He shared some ideas, we shared some ideas.”

President McDavis, a Patton College alumnus, said McCracken Hall was the perfect location to unveil the portraits.

“This is the perfect venue for us to unveil our paintings because Deborah and I are educators at heart. We have been all our lives, so for the unveiling to occur in the newest renovated building on our campus, you can’t plan this, it just happens.” President McDavis said. “We're humbled by this and the 13 years that we have had the honor and privilege to serve. It has brought experiences to us that we never thought we could have.”

Mrs. McDavis also took time to express her gratitude to the University community.

“You have spoiled us. We love you and that's about the best that I can say. We'll be back,” first lady McDavis said. “If I can ask you for one thing, I ask you to embrace the next first family. Embrace them with all that you have done to embrace us.”

During her remarks, Patton College of Education Dean Renée Middleton thanked President McDavis for his loyal support and praised Deborah McDavis for her warm personality during their tenure as first couple.

“We are delighted to take part in the unveiling of the official portraits of the president and first lady,” Dean Middleton said. “The president has been a fierce advocate of public education for students, ranging from kindergarteners to doctoral candidates. We feel fortunate that he has worked so hard to help the college rise up and develop a new generation of great educators. I’m also certain that many doctoral candidates will feel comforted by Mrs. McDavis’ warm presence as they nervously wait for news from their dissertation committee on whether they were successful in their defense.”

The McDavis’ final day as first couple is Friday, Feb. 17. 

McDavis walking

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and first lady Deborah McDavis make their way to an unveiling ceremony held at the newly renovated McCracken Hall on Feb. 9, 2017.

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy of Champlin Architecture speaks with members of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees as they take a tour of the newly renovated McCracken Hall prior to the portrait unveilings on Feb. 9, 2017.

McDavis portrait unveiling

Cathy Levy, center, wife of David Levy, looks at historical women's wear as the members of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees take a tour of the newly renovated McCracken Hall prior to the portrait unveilings on Feb. 9, 2017.

McDavis portrait unveiling

Patton College of Education emeriti faculty member Glenn Doston (left) and Patton College Director of Development Tim Binegar (right) greet each other prior to the portrait unveilings of President McDavis and his wife, Mrs. McDavis, on Feb. 9, 2017.

foundation tour

Members of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees take a tour of McCracken Hall prior to the portrait unveilings of President McDavis and his wife, Mrs. McDavis, on Feb. 9, 2017.

McDavis portrait unveiling

President Roderick J. McDavis and Patton College Dean Renee Middleton (left) and first lady Deborah McDavis and artist Rob Hartshorn (right), unveil the portraits at the newly renovated McCracken Hall on Feb. 9, 2017.

McDavis portrait unveiling

President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Deborah McDavis, along with portrait artist Rob Hartshorn pose with the paintings on Feb. 9, 2017.

McDavis portrait unveiling

President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Deborah McDavis, discuss their portraits at an unveiling ceremony held at McCracken Hall on Feb. 9, 2017.

McDavis portrait unveiling

President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Deborah McDavis, applaud during the unveiling ceremony held at the newly renovated McCracken Hall on Feb. 9, 2017.

chocolate elephants

Beautifully decorated chocolate elephant hors d'oeuvres await guests at the portrait unveiling ceremony on Feb. 9, 2017.