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Dr. E. R. Bovenizer
July 17, 2019 : Ohio University Eastern remembers Dean E.R. Bovenizer

It is not often the case, but on some rare and special occasions, an individual can come into a particular situation and transform the events that will result in a series of life-changing outcomes.  The arrival of Dr. E.R. Bovenizer as Dean of then Ohio University Belmont in 1957 was one such occasion.


Dean Bovenizer, the first administrator of the regional campus known today as Ohio University Eastern, passed away recently at Park Health Center in St. Clairsville.  He was widely known throughout the community as a strong advocate for higher education from his beginnings as founder of the campus.


Ohio University Eastern Campus Dean Bob Klein said, “Dr. Bovenizer lived and breathed the Eastern Campus during its developmental years as campus dean from 1957-1982 and continued to champion our cause to everyone he came into contact with throughout the rest of his life.  There has never been a finer promoter of Ohio University Eastern, its faculty and its students.  He built the foundation that we all stand upon and he will be sorely missed by all in our community.”


An alumnus of Smith Township schools, Dr. Bovenizer became known as one of the fathers of higher education in Eastern Ohio, passionately serving as an educator in Belmont County for 46 years.  He began his career in 1950 as a chemistry teacher at Bellaire High School and also served as School Psychologist and Director of Counseling and Testing for the Bellaire and Martins Ferry City Schools.


His career at Ohio University began in 1957 in Martins Ferry, as he was named the first academic administrator of Ohio University programs in Belmont County.  Dr. Bovenizer moved to Athens in 1961 to work as an assistant dean, and played a prominent role in developing several regional campuses of Ohio University as well as higher education programs at numerous strategic air command bases.


In 1965, Dr. Bovenizer returned to Belmont County to oversee staffing and equipping of Ohio University’s Wilson Shannon Hall during its construction west of St. Clairsville.  He became the first director (later named dean) of the campus, recruited its initial faculty, and facilitated its academic program development, including the launch of “Weekend College” in 1979. 


Tom Flynn was hired as a faculty member in 1978.  According to Flynn, Dr. Bovenizer’s efforts are without a doubt still having a positive influence on the campus today.  “The template that Dean Bovenizer laid down for the shaping the faculty and staff of Ohio University Eastern has become part of the DNA of the campus, and throughout the 40 years I have been associated with Ohio University Eastern, it has remained true to his goal providing the highest quality education to our community.”


Dean Bovenizer’s research in Worker Functions led to his doctoral degree in 1968 following graduate studies at Ohio University and the University of Pittsburgh.  He retired in 1982 as Dean Emeritus of Ohio University Eastern, assuming the role of Assistant Professor until 1996, and teaching Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Human Relations.


Dean Bovenizer celebrated education and Ohio University Eastern’s role in providing programs to advance Eastern Ohio citizens’ career opportunities.  He worked tirelessly with leaders in education, government, business, and industry to increase the number opportunities the Belmont County campus provided to its students.


One of these opportunities was the emergence of degree completion programs at regional campuses.  According to Mike McTeague, long-time faculty member who joined Dean Bovenizer’s team in 1963, this was arguably, Bovenizer’s greatest single accomplishment.  “Dr. B.’s efforts were visionary and enabled the Eastern Campus to open the door for future generations to earn an academic degree from a prestigious institution while containing costs, and in many cases, allowing them to continue to work at the same time.  As a result, we currently offer 13 bachelor’s degree programs and three associate’s degree programs at the Eastern Campus and have graduated countless leaders in a variety of fields, including education, business, government, professional, and medical over the years.”


Dean Bovenizer also championed restoration of the Great Western School, development of the arboretum, and procurement of the covered bridge -- all of which are located on Ohio University Eastern property.  He was a recipient of the Liberty Bell Award by the Belmont County Bar Association and the Austin C. Furbee Award, among various professional honors and commendations. 


E.J. Schodzinski, director of external relations, marveled at Dean Bovenizer’s incredible legacy of caring, family, and community service, which was fostered by simply treating everyone with kindness and respect, and taking the time to get to know everyone on a personal level.  “It is humbling and inspiring to know that Dean Bovenizer was still thinking of others recently, in the hardest of times, as he finalized Dr. E.R. and Marjory Bovenizer Scholarship Endowment fund, which will benefit our students at Ohio University Eastern in perpetuity.”


Rich Greenlee, dean emeritus, may have said it best.  “Dr. Bovenizer was simply a good man. I am a better person for having known him, and I will always be grateful for his presence in my professional and personal life. They broke the mold after they made him, and I will miss his presence in our academic community.”


Dr. Bovenizer was also a long-time member of Thoburn United Methodist Church and the St. Clairsville Rotary.  He was also a veteran, having served in the Recovered Personnel Division of the U.S. Army in the Philippine Islands just after WWII.


He was preceded in death by Marjory M. Bovenizer, his beloved wife of 69 years.


Visitation will be held at Thoburn United Methodist Church, 209 E. Main St. in St. Clairsville on Friday, July 19 from 2-4pm and 6- 8pm and again from 10am until time of memorial service at 11 am on Saturday.  Full military honors will be conducted by the Belmont County Veterans Association.  Arrangements are entrusted to Toothman Funeral Home in St. Clairsville.  Condolences may be shared via the obituary link at