Sept. 15, 2004
By Marisa Long
A reception and dinner celebrating the inauguration of President Roderick J. McDavis, BSED, '70, and the announcement of the Ohio University Urban Scholars Program was held on Sunday, Sept. 12, in Cleveland.
The event, which took place at the Hilton Cleveland East Beachwood, included Ohio University alumni from the Cleveland area, administrators and faculty from Cleveland city schools and Ohio University faculty. It marked the unveiling of the Urban Scholars Program – an initiative that will provide scholarship support for graduates of urban school districts who demonstrate excellent academic achievement and financial need.
The program emphasizes the importance and value of alumni involvement, community outreach, corporate and foundation partnerships and academic scholarship. Committees will be formed from urban areas in Ohio and across the country to select and recruit potential scholars. McDavis announced at the event that he and his wife, Deborah, are donating $8,000 to fund the first urban scholar, and they encouraged those in attendance to help support the program as well.
"The Cleveland area has one of the strongest alumni bases, and we need and want your help and support," he said. "We are all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us and paved the way for us. Without the education I received at Ohio University I would not be standing before you tonight – I know this. We need to find a way to create that opportunity for others. We have a responsibility to the next generation of young people in America, especially in urban America."
Preliminary goals of the program include recruiting and supporting 10 Urban Scholars who will begin classes at Ohio University in the fall of 2005 and eventually supporting 100 new scholars annually by providing support for tuition and fees, which are currently $7,770 a year for in-state students. Initially, the program will target students in Ohio's metropolitan areas, but will branch out to other cities in the nation.
Maxine Peatross White, BSS '96, thinks that the scholarship program will help recruit students in the area who may not go to college otherwise.
"A lot of kids from this area don't have the opportunity to go to school," she said. "I would definitely like to see more Clevelanders [at Ohio University] because the University helped me to be successful."
The event, which was planned by the Ohio University Alumni Association and a Cleveland host committee, was emceed by Brian McIntyre, BSJ '91, field reporter for the Ohio News Network, and included musical performances by Ra-Deon Kirkland, BSC '99, and greetings by Ralph Amos, MPA '04, assistant vice-president of alumni relations, and Danette Render, BSHS '77, who served on the planning committee for the event. McDavis' fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, Inc. donated $500 toward the program, which was presented by Dell Robinson, BSPE '88. Patricia Ackerman, BA '66, Ohio University trustee emeritus, introduced McDavis.
"When I became aware that President McDavis wanted to champion diversity I was excited," Ackerman said. "Cleveland is a great place to kick off this initiative because we have many black alumni in the area, and the black alumni are proud to have McDavis as president."
As part of Ohio University's plan for increasing diversity, Ohio University will also work to increase out-of-state enrollment by 50 percent over the next five years while increasing the enrollment of underrepresented students of different minority groups, socioeconomic status and geographic origins. The University will look to recruit more international students as well and work to increase the diversity of faculty, administrative and staff positions.
"We need to look at the demographics of our students and must position the University to interact with and recruit a diverse student body to form a global society at Ohio University," said G. Christine Taylor, interim assistant to the president for diversity. "I'm very concerned about the future of higher education and we are addressing a very serious higher education issue. It's important to know how to interact with and learn from different types of people."
Marisa Long is a writer with Ohio University Communications and Marketing.