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President McDavis delivers State of the University speech

President Roderick J. McDavis delivers his State of the University speech at the 2013 Faculty and Staff Convocation.

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

Faculty and staff attended the 2013 Convocation held in the Margaret M. Walter Hall Rotunda, Aug. 28.

Faculty and staff attended the 2013 Convocation held in the Margaret M. Walter Hall Rotunda, Aug. 28.

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

President McDavis speaks with staff and faculty members following the Convocation.

President McDavis speaks with staff and faculty members following the Convocation.

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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President’s State of the University address focuses on OHIO as “a force of change”

McDavis announces plans for one percent salary increase for faculty and staff

The 2013 Faculty and Staff Convocation on Aug. 28 allowed the Ohio University community an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of years past and to look ahead to the future in which OHIO is a force of change. 

In the opening of his State the University address, President Roderick J. McDavis likened the University's metaphorical march toward affordable and accessible higher education to that of another historic march for jobs and freedom: the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. Taking the microphone in the Margaret M. Walter Hall Rotunda at the same moment in history that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to the crowd of 250,000 in Washington D.C. 50 years earlier, McDavis illustrated the University's incredible position of strength through the accomplishments of its faculty and staff and the strategic initiatives in place for years to come.

"The state of our university is strong. We are in a position of strength because of you! We are a force of change because of you!" said McDavis.

A force of change built upon a strong foundation

In a speech peppered with university points of pride, he laid the foundation on which the University's position of strength is built, beginning with the recent national recognition of the value an OHIO education affords students.

The University's Athens Campus was ranked 15th in the state for return on investment and recently received a second place national ranking on Policy Mics's list of "12 Top Colleges Where Students Get the Best Bang for Their Buck." These hallmarks can be added to an already impressive list of national recognition that includes top standings for several OHIO colleges within their academic fields.

McDavis reminded the University community that OHIO has been a powerful voice in the state-wide conversations that are re-shaping the way institutions of higher education receive their funding. "Through leadership, participation and service within state and national organizations, boards and conferences, the Ohio University community has captured the attention of the higher education community. They are increasingly looking to us as an example of an institution that has thrived, thanks to creative adaptations during hard economic times. We are forging creative solutions to the national issues of access, affordability, and transparency," said McDavis.

These creative solutions are apparent on a state-wide level: OHIO was a leader in developing the state's newly reformed higher education funding model through participation in the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission. The new model links funding to graduation rates, not headcounts, and mirrors President Barack Obama's recently outlined agenda to make college more affordable by directly connecting funding to measurable outcomes. According to McDavis, the University's top-three standing for six-year graduation rates in the state positions it for continued financial strength under this new model.

McDavis said the University's Guaranteed Tuition Plan, which is new to the state of Ohio, also illustrates OHIO's leadership in college affordability. The plan develops a means to provide predictability to parents and students by guaranteeing tuition rates. It will increase the value of financial aid and re-engineers the budget model to best respond to trends in the state share of instruction. "Through our Tuition Guarantee Plan, Ohio University students will soon be able to lock in a tuition rate for four consecutive years, thereby taking the guesswork out of budgeting for college and increasing the value of their financial aid," he said.

McDavis went on to recognize OHIO as a force of change in the community. He pointed to the University's leadership in innovation and commercialization, citing its recent 14th place national ranking for licensing revenue per dollars spent on research. He praised OHIO's leadership as an economic engine in Southeast Ohio and celebrated the spirit of service that defines OHIO's culture.

McDavis reported that the University has generated $1.5 billion in economic impact in the state of Ohio in 2012 and $104 million in state and local tax revenue in 2012 by University-associated activities, according to the newly released Ohio University Economic Impact Report. An executive summary of this report will be shared with the Board of Trustees during their Aug. 29-30 meeting.

McDavis also lauded the commitment and passion of Ohio University faculty and staff. "When I consider the thousands of faculty and staff members whose personal touches constitute the Ohio University experience, I have nothing but confidence that we will continue to impact communities and change lives for the better," said McDavis.
He announced plans to recognize the hard work of faculty and staff by asking the Board of Trustees to approve a one percent salary increase for both faculty and staff. Last spring, the Budget Planning Council discussed awarding faculty with a salary increase should the University achieve fall 2013 semester enrollment targets, McDavis said, but he felt both faculty and staff efforts led to reaching that goal and so both groups should be commended.

A force of change in the future

Remarking on the changes higher education has weathered over the past 20 years, McDavis told the University audience that initiatives for continued strength are in place based on careful planning that emphasizes OHIO's mission of educational excellence and enterprising research.

These initiatives include:

  • The strategic enrollment management plan, which has yielded the brightest and most diverse class in University history
  • The development of a market competitive total compensation plan for faculty, classified staff and administrative staff
  • The aggressive "The Promise Lives" fundraising campaign which, to date, has raised 95 percent of its overall $450 million goal
  • A new matching scholarship program that is part of the new $100 Million Investment Plan
  • A Capital Improvement Plan which will adapt to changing student and faculty needs by transforming residence halls and creating improved facilities

"As we pioneer new community partnerships and innovative operational models, Ohio University is indeed a force of change among institutions of higher education in the state and nation. But let me be clear: All of these initiatives – many of which were spearheaded by you, our faculty and staff – are efforts to enhance Ohio University's core mission, which is inspired teaching and research. This has been and will always be our primary mission," said McDavis.

Ohio University is a force of change in the state, nation and world, said McDavis, by virtue of the strong foundation of nearly 210 years of educational success and the promising future of transformative, inspirational change.

Much like Dr. King charged participants in the March on Washington 50 years ago, McDavis charged the attendees of the 2013 Faculty and Staff Convocation to be agents of change in their own right: through their research, teaching and service. "We have endured tough times together," said McDavis. "But because we have been disciplined and strategic in efforts moving toward our shared vision, we are in a position of strength today. Because we have been proactive and forward thinking, we are a force of change in higher education."