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Founders Day celebration highlights academic success

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 2, 2007) -- Ohio University's Founders Day celebration on Feb. 2 focused on faculty, student and staff achievements and gave a review of the university's illustrious history dating back to its 1804 establishment.

Provost Kathy Krendl said the purpose of the ceremony was to celebrate the university's academic excellence, take the pulse of the community and chart its progress toward the institutional goals outlined in Vision OHIO, the university's strategic plan.

Photo by Rick FaticaOhio University President Roderick J. McDavis delivered an inspiring address that explained why Vision OHIO was created and what seeds have been planted in the university's four priority areas of becoming a nationally prominent research university; promoting diversity, enhancing financial support and growing partnerships in the state, region and nation.

He noted the univesity's national prominence in being listed 40th among 245 institutions in the Washington Monthly rankings based on each university's contributions to the nation. He acknowledged that an Ohio University student won 2006 College Photographer of the Year and 14 Visual Communication students won almost 30 percent of the awards at the oldest and most prestigious photography competition in the nation. Professor of English Mark Halliday received recognition for being one of only 187 professionals to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship last year.

McDavis said the recently created Urban Scholars and Appalachian Scholars programs are important diversity initiatives, as well as the development of National Resource Centers in African and Southeast Asian studies.

The president said financial support has been growing thanks to the $15 million gift from the Scripps Howard Foundation bringing its total support for the university to more than $20 million for the College of Communication. He also highlighted the $10 million from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation for the construction of an integrated research and learning facility.

McDavis also highlighted the fact that last year's $57.2 million in external funding continues a growing trend and that the Ohio Department of Development's Third Frontier Entrepreneurial Signature Program awarded $3.5 million to the university's Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs and local venture capital firm Adena Ventures to invest in new technology businesses in southeast Ohio.

As for partnerships, he said the university has recently become a part of the Educate the Tri-State initiative that brings together eight institutions to collaborate on joint program offerings and other initiatives. Ohio University also teams with Kent State to administer the Complete to Compete program, which was designed to facilitate adult learners in their quest to complete unfinished degree requirements.

McDavis also praised the work of the 10 Vision OHIO implementation teams. He said that out of 76 initiatives considered during the Vision OHIO process, one-third of them have been accomplished or are being reviewed.

"Each of us can influence Ohio's future by supporting our historic commitment," McDavis said. "Through the work of the implementation teams, we are beginning to see the fruits of our work as we secure the legacy and future of Ohio University."

Krendl recognized many teachers and scholars for their accomplishments, including recipients of the Distinguished Professor, University Professor, Presidential Teachers and the Outstanding Professor, Regional Campuses awards.

She recognized posthumously the first Vision OHIO Excellence Award recipients, former administrative assistant Miriam McLaughlin and former Professor of English David Dean McWilliams. The award is given to those who strongly contribute to Vision OHIO, the university's strategic plan.

"It made me realize that there are a lot of people who contributed to the success of Vision OHIO," said freshman journalism major Jessica Tyroler about the recognition of the two Excellence Award recipients.

Dean of the Honors Tutorial College Ann Fidler told the audience that personal growth and intellectual development are key components of academic excellence. She said the university is proud that its students earned 45 nationally and internationally competitive awards in 2005-06 and had more U.S. Student Fulbright Award winners than any other university in the state. The university tied for 14th on the Chronicle of Higher Education's list of top-producing universities for Fulbright Awards, she added.

"With the Cutler Scholars, Templeton Scholars, Urban Scholars, and Appalachian Scholars programs, we are developing creative opportunities for a wide range of students to become part of our vibrant learning community," said Fidler.

Sam Crowl, Trustee Professor of English and former dean of University College, gave the audience a historical presentation on the founding of the university. He said the ordinance established a policy for western expansion of the union, banned slavery in new territories and opened the door for the founding of Ohio University.

"It was really interesting to hear the history of the university. You can't really know where you want the university to go until you know where its been" said Emily Grannis, freshman journalism major.

Krendl informed the audience that Reverend Jacob Lindley became the first president of Ohio University in 1808 when the university opened with three students.

"Now the university boasts more than 28,000 students and 1,800 faculty members on its six campuses," Krendl said. "Our ability to educate and mentor students is a reflection of the faculty who serve as teacher-scholar models at Ohio University."

The Founders Day festivities also included a reception following the morning celebration, a poster session designed to display the progress that Vision OHIO implementation teams have made to date and an evening lecture by 2006-07 Distinguished Professor Tadeusz Malinski.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, 740-597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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