President Nellis during the 2018 State of the University address

President Nellis praised and thanked colleagues during his first State of the University address as Ohio University’s 21st President.

Photographer: Ben Siegel, Ohio University

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President Nellis shares summary of his 2018 'State of the University' address

Dear Colleagues:

During our Faculty and Staff Convocation yesterday, I praised and thanked colleagues in my first State of the University address as Ohio University’s 21st President. During that address, I shared the progress we have made relative to our strategic pathways and priorities, highlighted some of the more notable achievements that have propelled us forward this past academic year and began to lay the groundwork for the year to come.

I talked about the ethos of service that I believe is ingrained in our University culture. How it began with one of our first graduates, Thomas Ewing (1815), and continued with Joseph Carter Corbin (1853) and geologist Marie Tharp (1943) and more recently, with Dr. Frank Papay (1975), the chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute, whose revolutionary medical procedure is featured on the cover of this month’s National Geographic magazine. For more than 200 years, Bobcats have been using their degrees to impact future generations and to leave the world a better place. In 2018, we continue to build off of their contributions.

I admitted in my State of the University address that the strategic pathways and priorities we outlined as a University community nearly a year ago were ambitious. But, with some exceptional additions to our leadership team, some strategic investments centered around student success, and the hard work of so many in the Ohio University family, we are already beginning to see the impact of this new direction we charted together.

During the State of the University address, I lifted up a few Ohio University faculty whose successes in research, scholarship and creative activity over the past year are making an impact in their respective fields and have brought great pride to our institution:

  • John Kopchick, a distinguished faculty researcher with the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, was honored by the Endocrine Society with one of its prestigious 2019 Laureate Awards, considered the top honors in the field of endocrinology.

Some of our assistant professors who received career grants from federal agencies:

  • Zhihua Hua, an assistant professor of environmental and plant biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, received a five-year, $1.09 million National Science Foundation CAREER Grant  for his work on how plant cells remove old or abnormal proteins, with implications for crop breeding and seed production.
  • Zachary Meisel and Hee-Jong Seo, assistant professors of physics and astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences, each received U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Research Program awards ($150,000 per year for five years) for their research in nuclear and high-energy physics. They were among 84 scientists from 47 U.S. universities and 13 national laboratories to receive such significant research funding in 2018.
  • Several faculty affiliated with the University’s Diabetes Institute received grants to support research and health services in the last year. Congratulations to Heritage College Professors Vishwajeet Puri, Elizabeth Beverly, Emily Guseman, Sonia Michael Najjar and Kevin Lee for securing funding to support their research in this area.
  • Professor of Functional Morphology and Vertebrate Paleontology Nancy Stevens is among the authors of a new research paper that may prompt scientists to change their long-held views on the evolutionary history of the island of Madagascar.
  • And I also lifted up the cross-disciplinary work of Guy Riefler, chair of the Russ College Department of Civil Engineering, and John Sabraw, chair of painting and drawing in the School of Art and Design, for breaking ground in Perry County this past December on an acid-mine drainage remediation pilot-scale plant that will use the pollution from the area to create paint pigments.

In addition, during my 2018 State of the University address, I shared some new and exciting news:

  • Our diversity and inclusion efforts were recognized nationally with the 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award;
  • Ohio University will be creating a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, led by Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Gigi Secuban, to centralize and catalogue the work already being done at Ohio University and develop new strategies to identify key issues and solutions concerning women;
  • Next month, we will hold a ribbon cutting for a new space in Alden Library that will encourage creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship on Ohio University’s Athens campus called CoLab;
  • And I will soon announce the creation of a Corporate Engagement Task Force to take our business roundtable conversations we have been having throughout the state to the next level and enhance opportunities for more internships and related opportunities for our graduates.

In summation, friends, the state of our University is strong. And what I have learned in the last year is that the OHIO difference is truly each of you. Faculty and staff, I hope you all realize the impact you are making in the lives of our students, in the vibrancy of our region, and in the betterment of society. Students, I hope you all realize what exemplary scholars you are learning from at Ohio University and that you understand how invested the staff are in your academic and personal success.

The Founders of this nation understood the impact education has on civilization. They recognized the necessity to have a more educated citizenry, capable of self-governing, in order for our democracy to survive. The onus of this now lies with us. And who among us can refuse such a calling?

Not I.

Thank you to those faculty and staff who attended yesterday’s Convocation and for those who watched the livestream online. Thank you to University Distinguished Professor Susan Burgess and the Singing Men of Ohio for their contributions to yesterday’s program. And thank you ALL for the tireless work you do to make Ohio University the very special place that it is. It is my pleasure to chart this new direction for our future right alongside you and I look forward to seeing what reasons to celebrate the next year will bring.

Most sincerely,

M. Duane Nellis Signature
M. Duane Nellis

Additional information:

  • To learn more about the progress we have made thus far relative to our strategic pathways and priorities, read our 2017-2018 Annual Report.
  • To read my full State of the University address, click here.
  • To watch the video of my State of the University address, click here.