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President McDavis moved off campus in 2015 after bats invaded his on-campus home at 29 Park Place. (File)

McDavises to temporarily relocate due to bat invasion

For the third time in three months, bats have take up residence in the presidential residence, 29 Park Place

Off and on for years, Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Deborah, have had uninvited guests in their on-campus home, designated for the university’s president, at 29 Park Place.

Bats have been found in the property 16 times in the last 11 years. They have been discovered in the Park Place property three times in the last three months, said Stephanie Filson, OU spokeswoman, in an email. The most recent invasion occurred within the past two weeks. 

The couple will temporarily relocate so the problem can be properly assessed, Filson said, as there is no way of knowing exactly what might be found in the attic. 

The chair of the Board of Trustees, David Brightbill, and the Real Estate Department are working to find a place for the university to rent for the McDavises. The temporary home “must meet certain criteria to allow the president and first lady to conduct university responsibilities and business,” Filson said.

Deborah's office is based out of the Park Place home, and the couple hosts "meetings, dinners, receptions and other social events" there, Filson said.

“Due to the architectural and structural nature of the roof line of 29 Park Place, we need to consider major renovation to the roof, the third floor, and walls to insure we do not have a bat colony and to take preventive measures,” she said. “We cannot make those determinations or mitigate the concern while the president and first lady are living in the residence.”

McDavis is the only public university president in the state to live on-campus, as is required by his contract.

Bats are not uncommon in OU structures, said Chad Keller, the university’s environmental health coordinator, in a previous Post report. He estimates between 80 to 120 are found annually on campus, though most are discovered in August and September.

In fall of 2012 an anonymous donor approached the Board of Trustees with an interest in renovating the Park Place house or finding a new home for the president and his wife.

However, by May 2013 the donor changed priorities, halting any immediate plans to relocate the couple, said Jennifer Kirksey, McDavis’ chief of staff in a previous Post article.

The house is appraised at $931,120, according to the Athens County Auditor’s Office.

It has served as a home to seven OU presidents. It was built in 1899 and eventually bought by OU in 1951 for $60,000, according to a previous Post article.


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