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The house at 31 Coventry Lane sits on 2.86 acres and occupies 4,586 square feet, including a finished basement.

The new McDavis residence will be 31 Coventry Lane

The university has entered a lease agreement for a new home for President McDavis and his wife at 31 Coventry Lane. 

Ohio University entered a $1.2 million lease agreement to rent a new home for President Roderick McDavis and his wife Deborah.

There are no plans for the future of the president’s on-campus property at 29 Park Place, according to a university news release.

The new home is located at 31 Coventry Lane, 2.8 miles from Baker University Center.

The university has the opportunity to purchase the property, but that’s a purchase the university’s Foundation Board of Trustees must approve.

The agreement, in all university-distributed materials, was described as a lease agreement, but Board of Trustees Chairman David Brightbill was quoted in the release as referring to the agreement as lease-to-buy.

“The decision by the foundation to pursue a lease-to-buy agreement is not about the current president but about the recruitment of future presidents,” he said in the release.

Despite this, it’s not determined whether the university will purchase the property when the leasing period is up in 2017. It’s also not clear whether the university will purchase the home before then.

The new house sits on a 2.86-acre property. The house occupies 4,586 square feet, including a finished basement. The house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The monthly rent is $4,318.00, OU spokeswoman Katie Quaranta, said in an email.

The university owns the president’s property at 29 Park Place and the McDavises don’t make monthly rent payments.

“The president living off campus is going to decrease his visibility a bit, but I think ultimately the president has done a great job reaching out to campus community this year,” said Student Trustee Keith Wilbur.

The McDavises moved into the Ohio University Inn since vacating their property at 29 Park Place on March 11 after a bat startled Deborah, causing her to slip on the stairs and break her foot.

University officials began looking for a new house for the McDavises at the Board of Trustees’ meeting in March.

University officials have said the university is required to provide the president and his family with a residence that can host events for alumni and donors.

McDavis’ contract, signed with OU in July 2012, states that the president and the president’s spouse must reside in the house at 29 Park Place. It wasn’t immediately clear whether McDavis had signed a new contract.

“The decision to relocate the president and first lady is not about a temporary fix to a current situation, but rather an investment that provides the university and the Foundation with a number of very interesting possibilities,” Brightbill said.

The McDavises almost moved out of the Park Place property in 2012, when an anonymous donor expressed interest in building a new residence for Roderick. But in March 2013 the donor withdrew his or her request.

“The bat incursion has merely accelerated a decision-making process that was already underway,” Brightbill said.

A university document outlining information about the new residence also stated that a variety of factors, including construction to surrounding buildings to the Park Place home and "changes to the Park Place landscape" were reasons why university officials said it "did not seem appropriate that the presidential residence be located on Park Place."

The Park Place property will be maintained, but university officials aren’t sure what will become of it.

McDavis has an annual budget for the Park Place property of $125,208, which includes staff salary and benefits and operational expenses. That money will cover the costs of living at Coventry Lane, officials said.

McDavis was the only public university president in Ohio to live on-campus.

“I don’t even think some students realized he lived on campus,” Student Trustee Sharmaine Wilcox said.

Henry O’Bleness built the home at 29 Park Place for Clinton L. Poston, an Athens coalmine owner and business executive in 1899. The university purchased the property in 1951 for $60,000 and it has since housed seven OU presidents, including McDavis, according to a previous Post report.

“I think he’s done a great job in terms of visibility and getting his name out there and getting conversations happening on campus,” Wilbur said. “I really don't expect that to stop in the future of McDavis’ presidency.”


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