President Nellis

President M. Duane Nellis

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President M. Duane Nellis shares exciting news in Sept. 7 'First Fridays' letter

In his first "First Fridays" letter of the 2018-2019 academic year, Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis shares some exciting news regarding a recent award and lauds the importance of town and gown relationships.

Happy First Friday!

It is my pleasure to resume my monthly letters to our students, faculty, staff and alumni on this first Friday of the new fall semester. As I said in my inaugural First Friday letter last October, the purpose of these messages is to ensure we have open communication at all levels as we move the University forward, and to share some worthwhile information you can use to go out and “brag” about our Ohio University to others.

This month, I want to brag about a recent recognition we received over the summer for which we are especially proud – the Larry Abernathy Award. The Larry Abernathy Award is given each year by the International Town & Gown Association (ITGA), an organization to which many cities and universities around the world, including Ohio University and the City of Athens, belong. The purpose of the ITGA is to strengthen partnerships between institutions of higher education and the communities in which they reside. Each year, the award is given to a city and a university that best represents the true spirit of the mission of the ITGA. This year, it went to Ohio University and the City of Athens.

The big collaborations happening in our small community were highlighted in this video produced by OHIO alumnus and 12-time Emmy winner, WOUB Producer/Director Evan Shaw:


Truly, our town-gown partnerships extend to all communities where Ohio University has a physical presence. Our footprint in the state extends to five regional campuses, two extension campuses in Dublin and Cleveland and centers in Beavercreek, Proctorville and Pickerington. This summer, I traveled to all of our regional campuses to hold business roundtable discussions with influencers in ZanesvilleLancasterChillicotheSt. Clairsville and Ironton. What I heard many times from local leaders is that our regional campuses play vital roles within their respective communities, and we take that role very seriously. 

At our business roundtable in Ironton, a small community ravaged by the opioid epidemic, one local leader referred to our Southern campus as a “beacon of hope.” Another business leader got emotional recalling the day she, a first-generation student, first stepped onto the Ohio University Southern campus many years ago and quickly realized that it was the best path forward for her. She is now changing lives in her community through her work, and she credits her Ohio University degree for making that possible. Stories such as these are not rare; I hear them often from our students and from our alumni. However, they never fail to move me and remind me of WHY we do what we do.

As I said in my inaugural address, the integration of our campus locations and networks is vital to regional and statewide success; this was also the topic of our most recent Breakfast for Progress. In the coming months, you will see these efforts materialize through initiatives such as: the work of our Regional Higher Education Study Committee and our OHIO Opioid Task Force; plus, the continued contributions of our Innovation Center that has supported the creation of nearly 300 businesses and 3,000 jobs since its inception and was recently named the Top Rural Incubator in the world by the International Business Innovation Association (another award for which we are incredibly proud).

Collaboration is not simply a box we check at Ohio University; we know it truly enriches our shared communities when we can create synergies. This is why we must continue to strive to build a university engagement ecosystem that will allow Ohio University to strengthen its role as the positive catalyst for economic change and improved quality of life in Appalachia, and throughout the state of Ohio, that I believe we are destined to be.

Since our first graduate Thomas Ewing devoted his life to public service through his work as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Treasury, the first Secretary of the Interior, and advisor to four United States Presidents, so too have countless others since him. I hope you feel inspired to help out in your own local community and show everyone what good neighbors Bobcats can be! 

Most sincerely,

M. Duane Nellis

News to use:

  • With the start of a new academic year, I took a moment to reflect upon my first year as Ohio University’s 21st president, and the year yet to come, in my welcome back message to the University community. View our 2017-2018 Annual Report for some of the high points from last year.  
  • We broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art chemistry building on August 30. The new 69,000-square-foot building, which will be located on the site of the current parking area just north of Clippinger Laboratories, will feature student and faculty collaboration spaces, research and instructional laboratories and faculty and graduate student offices.
  • OHIO is hosting an art installation this semester called “What Were You Wearing?” that has appeared on college campuses around the country and challenges the victim blaming that often happens in sexual assault. I was there for the gallery opening, and it is a powerful display.
  • Ohio University’s diverse, inclusive culture was recognized on a national scale when SR Education Group recently named OHIO one of the most LGBTQ-friendly online colleges in the nation for 2018. The University was also ranked as the second-most affordable LGBTQ-friendly online college in the country. 
  • The new OHIO Honors Program, created to offer innovative honors learning experiences to undergraduates from all Ohio University majors, is welcoming its inaugural cohort this semester. 
  • Ohio University was recognized internationally for campus sustainability achievements. OHIO has received a STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Ohio University hosted a two-day conference with NASA in July, geared towards stimulating economic growth in a four-state region by helping businesses sell to NASA and other government buyers. Talk about shooting for the stars!