President Roderick J. McDavis welcomed faculty and staff to the new academic year.
Photographer: Emily Martin
McDavis discussed OHIO's past and promising future.
Photographer: Emily Martin
Distinguished Professor Mark Halliday opened the event.
Photographer: Emily Martin
Sep 9, 2011
Ohio University faculty and staff celebrated the opening of the new academic year with President Roderick J. McDavis on Thursday at the 2011 Faculty and Staff Convocation.
The theme of the event, "Together, Braving a New Frontier" reflected Ohio's past as one of the United States' first frontiers and the Northwest Ordinance that brought about Ohio University. The theme also looked to the future, as OHIO faces new challenges.
The convocation got off to a celebratory start with a multimedia presentation by University Communications and Marketing, "Highlighting the Green," that showcased faculty and staff achievements from the last year.
In his introduction, Distinguished Professor Mark Halliday said of McDavis, "He is committed to securing resources we as faculty and staff need to help students realize their promise."
Honoring the past
McDavis began his State of the University Address greeting new faculty and staff, including Vice President for Advancement and CEO of the Ohio University Foundation Bryan Benchoff. He also acknowledged the interim deans of the Scripps College of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences and the interim vice president for research and dean of the Graduate College.
"While they are not new to our university, they have enthusiastically stepped into their interim leadership roles. I welcome you to our leadership team," he said.
To illustrate how far OHIO has come from its beginnings in the Northwest Ordinance, McDavis used Bingham House, the 208-year old home that currently serves as the University's visitor parking registration center, as a constant in the midst of dramatic change.
"If the Bingham House could talk, it would tell us that it has witnessed the transformation of our campus," he said. "It has seen the transition of our student body from one that was male dominated to a multi-cultural group of young minds from all over the world. The Bingham House has seen the transformation of our students’ mode of transportation for campus. No longer do they arrive by horse and buggy but by electric cars, Go Buses, and – as we saw this past week – U-Hauls."
Celebrating the 1804 Fund
Since the University's founding, OHO's reach and reputation have grown.
"Consider how our faculty have utilized nearly $64 million in external grants," said McDavis. "They are using those resources to reduce the transmission of diseases in Ecuador and improve diagnosis and treatment; help children with language impairments; develop a new plan for a former power plant; clean wastewater to create green energy; build tools to extract world knowledge from Wikipedia; and advance work in nanotechnology and support student research opportunities."
He acknowledged that many new research and learning opportunities like these have begun and grown due, in part, to the 1804 Fund.
"This year, grant recipients are using their awards to establish career development programs for our students; create entrepreneurship courses; update lab equipment; support scholarship programs; and produce plays."
McDavis then recognized the recipients of 1804 Fund grants in attendance. The 1804 Fund was developed through a gift from alumnus Paul Stocker.
Gratitude for gifts
Other alumni gifts were also celebrated.
"Thanks to a generous gift of $2 million from Bob and Peggy Walter through the Walter Family Foundation, the new Walter International Education Center, located at 15 Park Place, is the new home to the Office of Education Abroad and International Student and Faculty Services," McDavis said. "These two offices support our global community and continue to elevate Ohio University’s prominence as an international university."
McDavis also expressed gratitude to all donors and to University Advancement.
"Last year we raised nearly $130.6 million in private gifts. That includes $1 million for the College of Health Sciences and Professions for our nursing program and Kids on Campus, $10 million in support for the Multipurpose Center and the renovation of the Convocation Center, and $105 million from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations for our newly named Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine."
Facing new challenges
But, as OHIO moves forward, current and upcoming challenges present themselves.
"In the midst of these pressures, our own university is in a period of great transformation. This fall marks the beginning of our last academic year on the quarter calendar system. Much work is taking place to successfully complete our transition to semesters for the 2012 fall opening," McDavis said.
He continued, "We also are moving to a responsibility centered budgeting model. Successfully developing and implementing this new model will strengthen our ability to focus on our academic priorities with keen attention on the mission and vision of Ohio University."
OHIO faces greater competition for the best and brightest students and less state funding to continue the University's efforts. But, these are challenges the University is prepared for.
"One could say we are on the cusp of another new frontier. As public investment in public higher education continues to decrease, a more bold and entrepreneurial spirit will be the key to our future success, especially as we navigate and brave this new frontier. And it will give us the edge we need to articulate our path and deliver what our society needs from public higher education, specifically Ohio University," said McDavis.
Exploring new frontiers
OHIO will continue to enhance its enterprising spirit through the new Center for Entrepreneurship and Certificate in Entrepreneurship.
McDavis also elucidated on the groundbreaking research and considerable funds that have grown from Goll-Ohio Professor John Kopchick’s discovery of growth a hormone antagonist. Last February, the University and its investors sold partial royalty income rights to its license for the drug that could net $52 million.
"The University plans to reinvest those funds into the work of our faculty and researchers for new translational medical programs and efforts to commercialize faculty technologies; endowed professorships; and graduate student fellowships," said McDavis.
He shared that OHIO must take actions to continue to cement its reputation as one of the most transformative and leading centers of research and learning in the nation.
“As we look to the future, our agenda should be ambitious,” said McDavis. “We will look for ways to enhance the quality of Ohio University’s academic offerings; promote the best student-centered learning experience possible; and ensure our competitive position, while maintaining a conservative approach to our fiscal responsibilities.”
He praised the work of faculty and staff and commended on their investment in helping students achieve their potentials.
"I challenge any other institution in this country to prove that their faculty and staff are more committed to student success than the faculty and staff of Ohio University," said McDavis. "As we move forward, the secret to our success and the key to how we will continue to pursue our vision to be the nation’s best transformational learning community is that we do it together."