West Virginia school adds Wharton to name
Ohio Valley University renamed its business school after donors Gene and Joyce Wharton
October 15, 2013, 6:46 pm · Updated October 15, 2013, 10:53 pm·
Brian Shmerling | DP
There’s a new Wharton on the block.
Ohio Valley University, a small Christian school in Vienna, W. Va., recently renamed their business school the Gene and Joyce Wharton School of Business and Information Technology, honoring the couple who are longtime donors.
However, confusion between the two schools seems somewhat unlikely. While OVU’s Wharton grants undergraduate business degrees — their most popular undergraduate course of study according to the U.S. News and World Report rankings — students at OVU have a significantly different college experience than Penn’s Wharton students.
A letter to incoming freshmen published on the school’s website encourages students to “Be Wholesome!” Additionally, the school’s website states that “all [business] instruction is presented within the framework of Christian principles.” Students also attend Chapel and Assembly five days per week.
Wharton declined to comment on whether or not they were planning to pursue legal action against the Christian university.
In the past, the University has not looked kindly on institutions who adopt the Wharton or Penn name.
This past March, Penn sued the Wharton Business Foundation for using the name. The two parties reached a settlement and the WBF’s former website — www.whartonbusinessfoundation.com — now redirects to a website that is selling the domain name.
In August, the University sued a financial consulting and investment firm named Wharton Advisors Corp over the use of the name “Wharton.”
Penn also filed two lawsuits for trademark infringement against PennRX Pharmacy and Penn Health Ambulance Corporation in September of 2012.
In these four lawsuits, the University claimed that the use of a trademarked name by a company unaffiliated with the university might confuse consumers.
Wharton students seem unaware of, or are indifferent to the OVU business school’s name change.
“I don’t personally have a problem with it but Wharton probably will,” Wharton senior Yadavan Mahendraraj said. “They’re pretty protective of their name.”
Wharton sophomore Monica Dyches said she didn’t care about the new name conflict. “There are other places called Penn,” she said, referencing the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
According to a press release on OVU’s website, the Whartons became patrons of OVU after hiring several OVU students as supervisors at their newly opened Burger King restaurant. Today they own a franchise of 24 Burger Kings and credit the OVU students they hired in helping them succeed.
Gene Wharton has been on OVU’s Board of Trustees for 33 years, serving as the chairman of the Board from 2001-2004.
Staff Writer Tvisi Ravi contributed reporting.