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)  Incoming freshman Rhett Schodzinski, President Nellis, and Denise Penz, executive director of wealth management at Home Savings Bank share a moment at the Eastern Campus recently.
August 08, 2017 : President Nellis visits Eastern Campus

ST. CLAIRSVILLE (August 2)  Ohio University Eastern students, faculty, staff, and community leaders welcomed President Nellis to the St. Clairsville-based campus with open arms during his recent visit.


Nellis successfully navigated a full slate of activities which included an open forum with faculty and staff, a tour of facilities, lunch with a select group of students and donors, and a tour of the Great Western School House.


President Nellis meets with a group of students, community leaders and university officials recently at OUE.“Ohio University Eastern is an important part of our overall system and I definitely will be working closely with this campus,” he reiterated during discussions throughout the day.  “I came here today because I really want to hear your voices before I finalize the specifics of my vision.  Your input will play an important role in helping me formulate my priorities as we move forward during my presidential administration, and I am grateful for your participation.”


By all accounts, Nellis made a most favorable impression on each person he came in contact with.  “I thought it was wonderful that President Nellis made the trip to our campus,” said Dr. Sarah Mahan-Hays, associate professor of communications.  “It really demonstrated to our entire community the importance that he places on our campus, as well as the entire regional system.  I feel confident in stating that his message was well-received.”


Incoming freshman Rhett Schodzinski felt relieved after meeting the president.  “I really didn’t know what to expect when I was invited,” he said.  “I have to admit that I was a little nervous, but after talking with President Nellis for a few minutes, I felt like I knew him for a long time.  He was a great listener and I could tell that he was genuinely interested in my perspective of Ohio University and the Eastern Campus.”


Following his meetings with the students, faculty, and staff, President Nellis met up with Underground Railroad Museum Curator John Mattox and the local media for a personalized tour of the Great Western School House.  He was accompanied by the Executive Dean for Regional Higher Education Bill Willan, OUE Dean Paul Abraham, and other university officials.


Nellis was very appreciative of Mattox’s historical knowledge and connected his view of education with the past at the Great Western School House, also known as the “1870 schoolhouse.” The schoolhouse is a one-room facility that is listed on the National Registry for Historic Places, where more than 300 children visit each spring and take part in spelling and arithmetic lessons using old-fashioned slates and slate-writers.


The schoolhouse closed in 1952, and was eventually restored and repaired by the National Trail Chapter of Questers along with help from Ohio University. It is the only one-room schoolhouse left in Belmont County.


“This school is an important part of our history, not only as part of this region but for our nation. Think of all our forefathers and mothers that experienced their education in rooms like this across our country. It’s foundational,” Nellis said. “As a bridge to our campus at Eastern, one of the great values that we have are small class sizes. … they have kind of that intimate setting that kind of reinforces the history that is associated with this particular building.”


Nellis concluded the day by sharing his philosophy with the local media.  “One of my initial goals in the first few months is to become as familiar as possible with the different dimensions of the university,” Nellis said. “Being on the Eastern Campus today was a fantastic experience.  It was terrific to learn about the important work we are doing here in St. Clairsville.  We believe wholeheartedly in the slogan ‘OHIO for Ohio,’ which represents our mission not just in Athens or at the regional campuses, but across the entire state.”