By Monica Chapman
Journalism major Quadia Muhammad will stand before Ohio University's creme-de-la-creme at the annual Founders Day celebration next week and recount her college journey. And truth be told, she's not the least bit flustered. Moving into a residence hall after nearly a decade in the workforce -- now that was a different story.
"I used to tell my friends this is the epitome of being downsized," she said. "But you just never know where life is going to take you."
As a first-generation college student, Muhammad's decision to enroll at Ohio University was largely a tribute to the people in her life -- to her family, her community and to ancestors who never had the opportunity to attend college. Today, Muhammad also feels an obligation to the people of Ohio University, whom she said "helped me to bring out my own promise and share my promise with others, but also to fulfill my promise in the future."
Muhammad is one of five essayists who will share their thoughts on the promise of Ohio University at this year's Founders Day convocation and reception. The festivities, which begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 6, in the Margaret M. Walter Hall Rotunda, will recognize distinguished faculty, nationally competitive-award recipients and student scholars in a celebration of Ohio University's founding and 205-year history.
"Reminding ourselves of our history is a worthy exercise," said Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl, who will convene the celebration and offer opening and closing remarks. "Clearly from 1804 to 2009, there is much that is different about Ohio University, but some of the values on which this institution was founded -- excellence, opportunity and access -- continue to matter deeply even after the passage of 205 years."
Celebrating the past and embracing the future will be the focus of President Roderick J. McDavis' State of the University address, which will be delivered during the convocation.
The convocation also will honor more than 150 students and faculty, including nationally competitive academic award winners, Fulbright Scholars, Vision OHIO Excellence Award winners and recipients of various teaching awards.
Among the guests of honor will be 2008 Distinguished Professor Damian Nance. The Distinguished Professor Award, which recognizes faculty members' research and contributions to their fields, is a lifetime designation that is considered the university's highest academic honor.
Nance, a 29-year member of the Department of Geological Sciences' faculty, uses zircon crystals to track the movement of continents over the course of geologic time. His research confirms the hypothesis that the Earth's continents have repeatedly come together to form supercontinents only to break apart again -- a cycle that has profoundly influenced the evolution of the planet's crust, atmosphere, climate and life, and sheds light on its inner workings.
Later that evening, Nance will speak about his research in a lecture titled, "From Sand Grains to Supercontinents: Discovering How the Earth Works," at 7:30 p.m. in Walter Hall 135. A 7 p.m. reception in the Walter Hall atrium will precede the lecture.
Convocation attendees also will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the university's 10-year capital plan, which lays out major construction projects. University Planner and Director of Space Management Pam Callahan and Assistant University Planner Dick Planisek will be on hand from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Walter Hall Rotunda lobby to provide information and answer questions regarding the plan.
Founders Day provides both a glimpse into Ohio University's future and an opportunity for reflection. But for Mohammad, these two are inseparable.
"It is only because of the phenomenal people I have been blessed to come in contact with that my life is transforming," she writes in her essay. "They have shaped me and helped me to recognize the promise within myself."