Ohio University

President Nellis discusses fostering a safe, supportive University community

President Nellis discusses fostering a safe, supportive University community
Published: October 11, 2017 Author: Staff reports


The following message was sent by President M. Duane Nellis to the Ohio University community on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Bobcats look out for one another. As your president, the safety of our University Community is my top priority; it influences nearly every decision I make. That is why the national trend of sexual assault on college campuses is so deeply troubling. We all have a legal, but more importantly a moral, obligation to keep it from happening here. The first step to achieving this is to change perspectives and to change culture.

Beginning Friday, Oct. 13, the online education module called Bridges: Building a Supportive Community will be delivered via email to all faculty, administrative and classified staff, with the exception of AFSCME bargaining unit staff, who will receive the education module at a later date. The module is intended to help equip OHIO faculty and staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to build a culture of respect that prevents sexual misconduct and prepares them to respond appropriately when such incidents occur. The expectation is that every member of faculty and staff will complete the module by the end of the spring semester.

I devoted my first Breakfast for Progress gathering to this very topic on Aug. 30. At the earliest opportunity during my first semester as Ohio University’s president, I brought together leaders from all areas of the University and asked all of them to confront the issue of sexual assault head on. During that time, we had a very robust discussion and University leadership was provided the education module for review as a pilot group in mid-September. The response from that initial group has been encouraging. Everyone wants to stop this from happening to our students, staff and faculty. We are all on the same page.

In our continued quest to educate our community on the impacts of sexual violence, OHIO will host a viewing of the Monument Quilt on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Peden Stadium. The quilt is an on-going collection of stories from sexual assault victims and is a public healing space for survivors of rape and abuse. Written, stitched, and painted onto red fabric, the stories are displayed in city and town centers around the country to create public space to heal. Over 1,000 squares will be displayed, filling the football stadium. This will be the first time the quilt will be displayed in its entirety in a university football stadium. Everyone is not only welcome to attend this event, but is encouraged. The viewing of the Monument Quilt is free and open to the public. I would love to see faculty bring their classes to experience a full day of events.

We need to continue our efforts working together to foster a safe and supportive environment at Ohio University for everyone. As we work together to leverage our collective experience, expertise, and knowledge, we can identify solutions that provide hope and encouragement to those affected, and develop strategies to end sexual misconduct on our campuses once and for all.


M. Duane Nellis