OVU celebrates as Chancellor Stotts turns 80

VIENNA – More than 200 members of the Ohio Valley University family joined to celebrate the 80th birthday of Chancellor Keith Stotts on Saturday in the Alumni Gymnasium.

“There is no way that I can humbly or otherwise say thank you,” Stotts told the crowd in reference to the party and monetary gifts to the school.

During the program people who have known Stotts for decades spoke, including friends and colleagues Gerry Isom, Gordon Rampy and Bob Stephens as well as his wife Joan Stotts.

“I should have kept notes on our journey,” said Joan Stotts. “To say our over 60 years together have been dull would be a mistake.”

Since they married 61 year ago, the Stotts have traveled extensively throughout the country teaching family and leadership workshops.

“If Keith had married someone else, we wouldn’t be celebrating his 80th birthday because she would have killed him years ago,” said Bob Stephens, with the McDonough Foundation, about the devotion and patience Joan Stotts has for her husband. “And he knows that’s true.”

Stotts’ friend, country music performer Dwight Yoakam, sent a humorous video with a specially written song which was shown during the reception. Another video of the birthday man’s family, friends and co-workers was also shown.

From 1964-1976, the Ohio Valley board of trustees invited Stotts to serve with them until they elected him president of the university in 1977. He was active in the business community during his tenure of president. Stotts served a year as president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce and many years on the chamber’s education committee.

In 1998, he retired as president and became chancellor of Ohio Valley University.

One thing most of the speakers told of was Stotts’ commitment to God and raising money for the school.

With his name and hard work, more than $1 million was raised for his birthday and another $5.3 million was raised for the university’s latest “Imagine, Renew, Soar” fundraising campaign.

Rick Story, with the OVU board of trustees, said the new campaign has raised 71 percent of the $7.5 million goal in four months with another 20 months to work.

“Keith has the ability to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary,” Story said.

OVU also celebrated its 52nd commencement ceremony on Saturday morning. The commencement speaker was Stanley R. Hancock, Senior Program Leader for The Boeing Company.