CPS renames school in honor of Dr. O’dell Owens

The late Dr. O’dell Owens committed his life to serving the people of Greater Cincinnati as a public health official and an advocate for education.

A graduate of Woodward High School, Owens often credited his time as a student in the Cincinnati Public Schools system with providing him the skills and confidence to obtain a degree from the Yale School of Medicine, followed by a fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

A lifelong champion for education, Owens partnered with CPS on several initiatives, including serving as chair of its community advisory board for seven years.

Tragically, Owens – a medical physician, educator and community advocate – passed away on Nov. 23, 2022. He was only 74.

To honor Owens’ legacy, the CPS Board of Education made the decision to rename Lighthouse School in Madisonville to the Dr. O’dell Owens Center for Learning. The school provides education and other services to students with disabilities.

The seven-member board of education voted unanimously to approve the name change on Monday, May 6.

“As we honor the legacy of the late Dr. O’dell Owens by renaming Lighthouse School, we are not just changing a name, but reaffirming our, and Dr. Owens, commitment to excellence, inclusivity and the transformative power of education,” said Board President Eve Bolton.

A lifetime of promoting education, giving back

Owens is perhaps best known for his time in health care. He began his career as reproductive endocrinologist and received credit for several medical breakthroughs. After establishing an in vitro fertilization program at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Owens achieved the region’s first successful conception from a frozen embryo as well as the first pregnancy.

His career saw him advance to positions such as medical director and interim health commissioner of the Cincinnati Health Department. He was president and CEO of the nonprofit Interact for Health and voters twice elected him to the position of Hamilton County coroner.

Even during his successful medical career, Owens never lost sight or focus on one of his other major passions: education.

Dr. O’dell Owens

Owens was a founding board member and chair of the board for the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, working to highlight the importance of preschool education to a child’s intellectual development. He also served as the founding president of GRAD Cincinnati, which provides students with academic services to help them graduate from high school.

Cincinnati State Technical and Community College named Owens its fifth president in 2010. He served in that position for five years, achieving then-record student enrollment and expanding educational opportunities through expanded agreements with UC and Northern Kentucky University, as well as opening Cincinnati State’s Middletown campus.

CPS Board Member Mike Moroski said the renaming Lighthouse School after Owens not only pays homage to his contributions to education and community service, but also “symbolizes our collective commitment to fostering an environment that celebrates diversity, equity and excellence.”

“This was a recommendation, not only of mine, but shared by other board and community members,” Moroski continued. “[We] are honored to see that Dr. Owens’ legacy will continue to impact future generations of students, guiding them towards academic success and social responsibility.” 

The renaming of Lighthouse School to Dr. O’dell Owens Center for Learning took effect immediately. CPS has already changed the name of the school on its website. Physical signage will change at a later date.

Those changes further symbolize the “indelible mark” Owens left on the Greater Cincinnati community and showcase his “remarkable legacy,” added CPS Superintendent Iranetta Rayborn Wright.

Dr. O’dell Owens Center for Learning

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