OVU names business school after Whartons

VIENNA – The business school at Ohio Valley University was renamed to honor a Parkersburg couple who have supported the institution.

The school will be called the Gene and Joyce Wharton School of Business and Information Technology for Gene and Joyce Wharton in recognition of their gifts of time, labor, leadership, financial support and love, according to the board of trustees.

A bronze plaque will be placed in the Stotts Administration Building denoting the new name.

“It is a great honor to be a small part of OVU and the impact it has on others,” Gene Wharton said.

The Whartons came to Parkersburg in 1979 to open Burger King restaurants, and Gene Wharton asked the president and vice president of Ohio Valley for students to interview for supervisory positions. Wharton employed two young men, who helped the business succeed and grow into today’s franchise of 24 Burger King restaurants with 800 employees.

This was the beginning of the Whartons’ relationship with the school.

Gene Wharton joined the college board of trustees in 1981 and has continued to serve for 33 years. He was the chairman of the board from 2001-2004 and was known as a visionary, a big picture person, a peacemaker and a crisp analytical thinker. He also serves as an elder of the Grand Central Church of Christ.

Joyce Wharton has assisted in the coordination of activities for women at Grand Central Church of Christ for many years, including developing a Bible study for women. She has also organized and hosted many church dinners and events. Together with her husband, she has opened her home to countless guests and visitors.

The change was announced at the President’s Club Dinner and ceremony on Oct. 5. President Harold Shank and Chancellor E. Keith Stotts made the presentation.

“Gene and Joyce Wharton have made life into a business of doing good, of serving those who needed help, of promoting OVU, and of being the kind of people that make this community a good place to live,” Shank said.

Gene and Joyce Wharton have always believed in Christian education and see OVU as a vital part of the Parkersburg community. Two of their three children graduated from OVU. All three of the Whartons’ children live in the Parkersburg area with their families.