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Published: November 7, 2018 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis sent the following message to the Ohio University community on Nov. 7, 2018, to share the final report of the University's Regional Higher Education Study Committee.


Dear OHIO Community, 

Last May, I formed the Regional Higher Education Study Committee to review and evaluate our regional campus higher education model. My charge was to ensure a sustainable future for educational access and excellence across our region. Led by co-chairs Dr. Nicole Pennington, Dean of the Southern Campus, and Dr. Brad Cohen, Senior Vice Provost for Instructional Innovation, this study committee benchmarked our regional higher education system, researched and identified other national models, analyzed internal trend cycles, and developed principles and recommendations for achieving an engaged, inclusive academic and resource model for the whole of our University. The study committee’s work underscores the value of regional higher education to southeastern Ohio and our campus communities.  

On Nov. 1, the study committee delivered to me its final report, which reflects substantial research, analysis, and engagement with faculty, students, staff and community leaders affiliated with each of our campuses, including Athens, and University leadership across Ohio University. Today, I am sharing the report with you, as well as relevant additional resources that informed the study committee’s work and led to their recommendations. I extend my deep appreciation to Dr. Pennington, Dr. Cohen, and the members of the study committee for their inclusive and transparent approach to the charge. This report gives thoughtful consideration of pathways to becoming a unified Ohio University, while honoring the diverse assets and interests of our communities and campus locations.  

Indeed, the report describes “a bold step of reimagining our campuses as vital locations in a dynamic engagement ecosystem” by outlining principles and recommendations focused on the following areas of the study committee’s charge: 

Organizational and reporting structures 

Academic program development and delivery

Alignment across academic programs and administrative functions 

Financial sustainability 

Student services  


The principles and recommendations put forth unanimously by the study committee provide a pathway for OHIO to redesign and realign our University system in order to bolster access and increase our ability to deliver a quality education across all our locations. To be sure, the study committee concludes that in order for us to thrive across the umbrella of Ohio University, we must reimagine our institution as one Ohio University.  

Our next step, collectively as an institution, is for us to determine the pathway forward for implementing these bold recommendations and to begin our work to unite – both structurally and culturally – as one University. In order to begin our work, I want to first seek your constructive feedback over the next month on what you believe should be key next steps in implementing the recommendations of the report. Please send your thoughts on prioritization of the principles and recommendations to RHEStudy@ohio.edu by Friday, December 7, 2018. This feedback is going to be used to guide me and members of our leadership team, in the spirit of shared governance, toward development of the One Ohio University Implementation Task Force with specific sub-task forces and key defined outcomes to achieve our vision.   

While this is a dramatic, strategic shift for Ohio University, it has the potential to become a great legacy moment for our institution. I recognize that moving in this direction represents immense change for all of our campuses and that it may be unsettling to contemplate such change. We will undertake this work together as we poise our great University to become an even greater dynamic engagement ecosystem that delivers a high-quality education to our students and possess the full power and potential to be a stronger partner for our communities. We are one University – Ohio University – and we are making great strides to grasp the potential of our collective passion, energy, and talent. 

Thank you for taking this bold first step with me.  

Kind regards, 

M. Duane Nellis, Ph.D.