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Former OU President, Humanities Professor Charles J. Ping dies

Charles J. Ping, Ohio University's 18th president, died Monday at his home in Athens, according to a university news release.

Ping was president of OU for 19 years — from 1975 to 1994 — and was known for his “visionary approach and gentlemanly demeanor,” according to the release.

“As we mourn the loss of Charles Ping, we also celebrate his enormous contributions to Ohio University,” Ohio University President Hugh Sherman said in the release. “In addition to his vision of what Ohio University could become, and his dedication to the humanities, he will be remembered most dearly for who he was - compassionate, loving and respectful of all. He deeply loved our students, his colleagues and our community.”

Ping earned his education at Rhodes College, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Duke University, according to OU’s website. Before coming to OU, Ping served as provost of Central Michigan University and was the acting president of Tusculum University from 1968 to 1969.

Ping entered his presidency at OU facing a drastic decline in enrollment, according to the university’s website. However, Ping helped increase enrollment at OU to its highest rate of 25,000 students and led the university to a $240 million budget during his tenure. 

“I’ve heard Dr. Ping say that when he studied Ohio University, he saw a tremendous amount of academic quality at Ohio University among the faculty and staff, but just a lack of confidence because of what the University had been through over the past four or five years,” Jack Ellis, current vice president emeritus of development and chief development officer during Ping’s presidency, said in the release. “His first role was to help instill confidence in the faculty and staff that this was still indeed an exceptional University.”

During his time at OU, Ping oversaw multiple additions to OU’s campus, including the building of the Aquatic Center, the growth of Peden Stadium, updated equipment for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the construction of the Charles J. Ping Student Recreation Center, according to the release.

Following his retirement as president of OU, Ping returned to the university to teach at the Charles J. Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities — academic disciplines for which he cared deeply — according to the release.

“He saw that as fundamental to all students. His commitment to the humanities and his commitment to the importance of students understanding the humanities was profound,” Distinguished Professor Emeritus Tom Carpenter said in the release. “I admired his work so much. His commitment to the humanities and his commitment to student learning were just extraordinary.”

Ping is survived by his wife, Claire Oates Ping, and his children, Ann Venable and Andrew Ping.

“Services will be held on Saturday, July 31, at 2:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church at 2 N. Court St. in Athens. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Ohio University Foundation in support of the Ping-Cutler Scholars or the Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities,” according to the release. 


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