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Stotts is a force for good in the Northeast

On May 11, 2013, following spring graduation ceremonies, Ohio Valley University in Vienna, W.Va., will celebrate the 80th birthday of Chancellor Keith Stotts.
This special event will honor Stotts and his wife, Joan, for their years of dedicated service to the churches of the region — and especially his dedicated leadership at OVU, first as president and then as chancellor.
I first met the couple when their younger son, Shane, came to Oklahoma Christian University to complete his baccalaureate degree. When Shane graduated in 1990, Keith delivered the commencement address, and OC conferred on him an honorary doctorate.
A few years after that graduation, Keith Stotts and his administrative team (Bob Stephens and Dennis Cox) came with a proposal that OC aid Ohio Valley as it transitioned to a four-year college. J. Terry Johnson, president of OC, loved the idea of helping a struggling junior college outside the Bible Belt.
I began visiting OVU fairly regularly. What I saw was amazing leadership by Stotts and his team. Stotts knew how to select leaders and then give them latitude to carry out their duties.
I realized that, above all else, Stotts and his wife loved the Kingdom. They were tireless workers in the church throughout the region.
On January 3, 1977, Stotts became the fifth president of OVC, ending several years of changing leadership and beginning a period of stability, growth, expansion and challenges.
The whole family was dedicated to the growing school. Both boys eventually attended to earn associate degrees.
Joan began volunteering in the development office while her husband concentrated on building an administrative team, gaining and maintaining North Central accreditation and funding and building Fox Dining Hall, Stanley Student Union, Stewart Residence Hall, Christian Bookstore, and Snyder Activity Center.
His leadership team acquired and began renovating the 137-acre North Campus.
Even as Stotts provided the guidance, leadership, inspiration and spirituality for a growing Ohio Valley University, he remained the principal fundraiser.
Since being named chancellor in June 1998, Stotts has continued to offer a stabilizing presence. He’s still very active in raising funds and making friends for OVU.
Since 1998, the university has had three presidents. Stotts has offered his help and guidance. He has worked to help each president meet key church leaders, gain acceptance in the community and have a relationship with donors and supporters of the university.
J. Kevin Ramsey, past chair of the Ohio Valley board, led in the efforts to bring Stotts to the presidency. He actively worked to relieve Stotts of the administrative responsibility, allowing him to serve as chancellor spending most of his time raising money for expanding programs.
The eighth president, Harold Shank, has the highest praise for Stotts.
“One of the great joys of my new role as president includes a close association with Keith Stotts,” Shank said. “We pray together. We travel together. We eat together. We talk to people together.
“After these countless hours in sync, I’ve found a man without guile, a Christian committed to the Kingdom in the populous northern United States, an articulate spokesperson for Christian education, a deeply dedicated husband and father and a good friend.”
The legacy of Keith and Joan Stotts is a thriving institution where young men and women gain a good education and have a chance to find faith and direction for their lives. They once dreamed of a Christian university for the Northeast.
They have made OVU a reality — and a force for good.  
CONTACT [email protected].

Filed under: Insight

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