M. Duane Nellis announces presidential transition

Published: May 13, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University President Dr. M. Duane Nellis announced today his plans to end his tenure as President on June 30, 2021, and transition to faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Nellis took office as Ohio University’s 21st President in 2017. Nellis’ career in higher education spans four decades, including 11 years as a university president. He said the timing is right for Ohio University and his family.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Ohio University as President these past four years,” President Nellis said. “Ruthie and I have truly enjoyed being a part of this University and this community, and I am proud of the many accomplishments we have all made together. I am excited to continue my service to this great University as I return to the work that brought me in to higher education – my passion for working with students through teaching, research and service.”

The Ohio University Board of Trustees is expected to formally accept Nellis’ decision to return to faculty at its regularly scheduled meeting in June. The University will launch a national search for its 22nd President, and it is expected that an interim President will be named in the coming days.

Board Chairwoman Janelle Coleman expressed appreciation to President Nellis for his service for the past four years.  

“President Nellis has been a collaborative, smart, gracious leader who was always focused on ensuring the University was well positioned to serve students today and in the years to come,” Chair Coleman said. “He has served honorably during a time of great challenge not just for Ohio University but for higher education, and we have been proud to partner with him on many important initiatives that have moved our University forward.”

Nellis led Ohio University through great change, including most recently during the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic. For more than a year, he has overseen the successful transition to virtual learning and remote operations followed by the phased return to in-person and hybrid instruction. Last month, he announced the University’s plans to return to more normal student activity and in-person instruction for Fall 2021.

President Nellis’ four-year tenure began with a year-long listening tour that led to the development of Fearlessly First, the University’s Strategic Framework. During his tenure, the University gained national attention for its diversity efforts, modernized the general education curriculum, and launched the OHIO Honors Program. Under President Nellis’ guidance, the University embraced Strategic Pathways and Priorities that further refined OHIO’s niche in an increasingly competitive landscape. Through cultivating partnerships within the communities OHIO serves, President Nellis successfully created greater alignment between campuses and locations to better meet both student and community needs.

Incoming Board of Trustees Chair Cary Cooper, who takes the reins from Trustee Coleman at the end of this week, said the Board will work quickly to finalize plans for an Interim President to begin July 1.

“We are confident in the strength of our leadership across the University to continue to move us forward, and we will bring in an experienced academic leader to work in partnership with them,” Trustee Cooper said. “Along with President Nellis, the Board is committed to ensuring we continue the University’s great forward momentum in the weeks and months to come.”

President Nellis gave much credit to his wife, Ruthie, for her continued support over the years.

“Ruthie has been my best friend and partner through the many challenges and celebrations in life, and I appreciate her support as I make this transition,” President Nellis said. “We wish the University a most dynamic, impactful and prosperous future, and we look forward to contributing to the University’s success in new ways as we move forward.”