M. Duane Nellis

President M. Duane Nellis

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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President Nellis shares his inaugural First Fridays message


Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure I write to you today to share my inaugural “First Friday” letter. The First Friday letter will be a monthly communication timed the first Friday of every month that I will issue during the academic year throughout my presidency. The topics will vary, but the intent will remain the same: to keep our students, faculty, staff and alumni informed of important happenings and exciting news from Ohio University.

For this first letter, I would like to focus on the historic occasion that is quickly approaching – Inauguration Week. The week of Oct. 16-20 will be a very special time for Ohio University – only 21 times in our storied, 214-year history has such a momentous occasion taken place.

I was reminded of the gravity of the event and its impact on the institution’s history on Tuesday at Alden Library’s unveiling of its OHIO Presidential Inaugurations Past and Present Display, drawn from University Archives collections in the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections. The collection of mementos is moving – the 1962 inaugural robe and hood worn by our 15th president Vernon Alden, an historic photograph of Claude Sowle taking the oath of office as the 16th president of Ohio University, and a commemorative printing of the very Act that established a University in the town of Athens in 1804. While reflecting on our beginning and on our past, it is impossible for me to not contemplate the promise of an even brighter future.  

Every university president has his or her own vision for the future. Every university president leaves his or her mark on the institution they lead. As the 21st president of Ohio University, I too have a vision, and it will build upon the legacy of success and impact from those who have preceded me, as well as the feedback I have received during my countless interactions with our students, faculty, staff and alumni in the months since being named President in February. I will share that vision for the first time during the investiture ceremony on October 18th at 2 p.m. in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. I am certain this vision will evolve as time goes by, but it is always helpful to have a shared roadmap at the beginning of a journey that reflects the collective input of our Ohio University family.

Homecoming may be this week, but Ruthie and I have felt the sensation of returning home for many months. The nation’s best transformative learning community has transformed us both. “Bobcat Pride” is intoxicating and inescapable; it swells in my chest each time I see the Marching 110 perform, walk through the College Green, or hear of yet another award or accolade won by our students, faculty or alumni. Last night’s “Yell Like Hell” pep rally still has my heart pumping! Soon, notable alumni, honored guests and delegates from other colleges and universities will descend upon the Athens campus, and that “Bobcat Pride” will be amplified exponentially as we all come together to join in the inauguration festivities. Our mutual love for Ohio University and the desire to see it elevated to higher levels of national prominence will be palpable.

Tradition dictates that this investiture ceremony is for the new president, but make no mistake – this is a celebration for the entire Ohio University family.

Your president,

 M. Duane Nellis