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Bill Lhota, business leader and ardent Ohio State volunteer, dies at 77

The College of Engineering is deeply saddened by the passing of alumnus Bill Lhota on August 10 after a battle with cancer. A respected business leader in central Ohio for many years, Lhota was an active supporter of Ohio State’s educational and innovation endeavors.

Lhota, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Ohio State in 1964 and a master’s in management from MIT, repeatedly and generously volunteered his time, talents and ideas to benefit the university community and its programs. He and his wife, Susan, also generously donated to the College of Engineering, the College of Medicine and to the aptly named Bill and Susan Lhota Office of Alumni Career Management. In 2013, the Ohio State Alumni Magazine featured a story about the Lhota’s support and passion for Ohio State.

Lhota retired as the president and chief executive officer of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in 2012, and previously was division president at American Electric Power where he oversaw power transmission and distribution in 11 states. COTA’s administrative headquarters located at 33 N. High St. in downtown Columbus bears Lhota’s name.

He served on dozens of non-profit and corporate boards, including roles as chair of The Ohio State University Alumni Association and of QICParc, the parent entity of CampusParc. He received the College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988 and the University’s Distinguished Service Award in 2011.

In his capacity as COTA’s chief, Lhota worked to maintain an ongoing relationship between Ohio State and COTA by contributing to research projects on transportation in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering. In addition, he collaborated with Ohio State’s Transportation and Parking Services to identify solutions to mass transit problems.

As an active member of the College of Engineering's External Advisory Council, Lhota helped guide numerous college initiatives and served on the search committee that brought Dean David B. Williams to Ohio State.

“Bill Lhota was a close friend,” said Williams. “He and Susan are neighbors to Margie and me in Worthington and Bill was a mentor to me. He opened doors for me to leaders across the Columbus and Central Ohio communities and he was a proud champion for diversity in everything he did. The current success of the College of Engineering and the extraordinary talents of our External Advisory Council are due in significant part to Bill’s commitments of his time, his talents and his treasure.”

Because the Lhotas love The Ohio State University dearly, in lieu of flowers, they have requested that memorial contributions be made to one of three areas they are passionate about: The College Of Engineering to support the Bill and Susan Lhota Scholarship Fund; The Ross Heart Hospital & Davis Vascular Research Institute to support Heart and Vascular Research; and The Ohio State Alumni Association to support the Bill and Susan Lhota Office of Alumni Career Management.

Tags: Alumni