As part of her university listening tour, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit met faculty and staff at Ohio University-Southern last week. The visit was her first stop on a fall quarter tour of OHIO's regional campuses. Benoit shared early on her plans to hold conversations with groups of university constituents over the course of fall quarter. She said she plans to report the initial findings of her survey during Founders Day activities on Feb. 19.
Benoit's Southern experience began with a visit to the Ohio Horse Park at Franklin Furnace, where the campus offers an equine program for students and provides therapeutic riding and veterinary clinic services to the community as part of the experiential learning opportunity.
Benoit also toured the Ironton campus and held a forum with faculty and staff, opening the session by asking, by show of hands, how many first-generation college graduates were among the group, acknowledging with many of those in the room that she, too, was one. She then asked what the attendees value about the university, what accomplishments they are most proud of, and what concerns they have.
"To learn that, I need to be quiet, shut up and listen," Benoit said.
Several individuals readily shared what they were most proud of, with many of the responses focusing on the regional campus atmosphere and its mission of educational access.
"We change lives," said Stephanie Burcham, director of the Proctorville Center. "That means so much to me."
Benoit affirmed the importance of access, sharing with the group that obtaining a college education was transformational for her.
"I probably would have made very different choices if I hadn't had the educational background," she said. "I feel so invested in being able to provide that to others."
"We don't accept the words, 'can't do'," Assistant Professor and Electronic Media Program Director Don Moore added, when talking about what he values most about the being a part of the campus community.
Among the concerns raised, budget uncertainties and a need for more tenured faculty were important to many. Discussions reflected on the effects of the economy and Benoit joked with the group that if any of them had a crystal ball to predict the future she would like to look into it. On a more serious note, she challenged the participants to think about new ways of doing business.
"What is core to our mission? We're going to absolutely cling to that,” she said, and referring to the future, added, "I guarantee we are not going to be in the same place we are right now."
Turning the tables, Moore asked, “What are some goals you'd like to see from us?”
Benoit replied that continuing to increase enrollment and finding new ways to manage that enrollment were top-of-mind. Earlier she referred to the campus' growth this quarter as "quite dazzling," crediting the entire staff for the hard work leading to the increase.
Benoit's next regional stop is the Lancaster campus Wednesday, Oct. 14, and to Eastern and Zanesville campuses Thursday, Oct. 29. She met with Chillicothe campus faculty and staff during an August retreat.