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Wednesday, September 15, 2004
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President McDavis holds first media briefing

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 15, 2004) -- Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis held his first media briefing on Wednesday afternoon in Cutler Hall. During the 40-minute session, local media members were able to ask the newly appointed McDavis their questions about the university and its latest happenings.

Photo by Rick FaticaThe first topic of discussion was the new Urban Scholars Program, a scholarship initiative that will actively recruit outstanding high school students living in urban areas in Ohio and across the United States to Ohio University. The program will provide scholarship support for graduates of urban school districts who demonstrate excellent academic achievement and financial need.

"This program is designed to target that tier of students who sometimes get missed as universities compete for the top percentage of members of underrepresented student populations," McDavis said.

Preliminary goals of the program include recruiting and supporting 10 Urban Scholars who will begin classes at Ohio University in the fall of 2005 and eventually supporting 100 new scholars annually by providing support for tuition and fees. He estimates the cost for each scholarship to be around $8,000 each year. The initial goal is to raise enough money to support the 10 scholars next fall, with the long-term goal of establishing an endowment to support the program.

"In addition to the commitment that Deborah [his wife] and I made of $8,000 for the first Urban scholarship, we also have other commitments from alumni in Cleveland and other areas and we are off to a good start with contributions to support the program," said McDavis. "We have a long way to go to get all of the funding we need, but we do believe we are well on our way to funding the first 10 Urban Scholars. As we move forward, we are getting a lot of enthusiasm, support and excitement for this program from every group we visit with."

He also pledged to be very involved with the fundraising efforts for the Urban Scholars program. He said alumni have a key role in making the program a success, because they will be organized by the university and will remain very involved with funding and nominating scholarship recipients of the program.

When asked how he could accomplish all of the goals he outlined in his inaugural address, McDavis said, "The first goal sets the table for all of the others. Saying that Ohio University will become a nationally prominent research university is a goal well within sight. The latest U.S. News and World Report ranking has us as a top 100 research university and a top 50 public university. We have to determine how high we want Ohio University to be ranked. We need to assess the quality of our academic programs; we need to see if there are new programs that we need to create or revise, we need to see how we can move up in research through quality and quantity. Where we want to be is the question. This is an exciting conversation for the university to be engaged in."

"Ohio University has a national reputation already and has a strong base to accomplish the goal of moving up in the rankings," he said. "We don't intend to take away from our high quality undergraduate programs. We will add the research and graduate component to it.

He said the university is in the process of identifying 10 or 12 benchmark universities and will use these schools as a model. He says Ohio University will find out why these schools are ranked highly and then find ways to implement some of those same qualities in an attempt to move up in the rankings.

McDavis will hold his next press briefing on Sept. 29.

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Media Contacts: Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing Hub Burton, (740) 593-2563

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