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McDavis says new university center will be the heartbeat of campus

ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 4, 2007) -- More than 700 students explored the new Baker University Center in the first hour and a half it was open, President Roderick McDavis told reporters at a press briefing Wednesday. The 183,000-square-foot facility opened to the public at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

"I believe Baker University Center will become the centerpiece of activity for many years to come," McDavis said, adding that he hopes it will engage students, staff and faculty in the many activities and services it will offer. 

Among the amenities at the university center -- which has been under construction since March 2004 -- are a seven-venue food court, four times the conference and meeting space of the former center, parking facilities, a 225-seat theater and the Front Room Campus Coffeehouse.

McDavis also said he is excited about the upcoming GMAC Bowl, in which the Bobcats take on the University of Southern Mississippi. The game, played in Mobile, Ala., will take place at 7 p.m. CST Sunday, Jan. 7, and will be televised nationally on ESPN. "I believe they'll play a great game," said McDavis, who was an Ohio University junior when the Bobcats made their last bowl appearance in 1968. 

The president also discussed Educate the Tri-State, a coalition that includes Ohio University and eight other universities and colleges in the Appalachia region. The partnership, announced in December 2006, will help citizens in the region successfully compete in today?s fast-paced global economy by providing appropriate courses and academic programs. 

Charles Bird, Ohio University vice president for university outreach and regional campuses, and Ohio University-Southern Dean Dan Evans collaborated with McDavis on the project. McDavis said the mix of public and private institutions in three states "will work together to offer academic programs for people living in Appalachia."

When asked for an update on academic honesty related to the alleged cases of plagiarism involving current and former graduate students in the university's Russ College of Engineering and Technology, McDavis said 34 cases will be reviewed by the plagiarism hearing committee. The university developed that committee, which is chaired by Professor of Physics and Astronomy David Ingram, to decide the cases of students who have been accused of plagiarism and to assign appropriate penalties.     

Sixteen cases have been reviewed so far. McDavis said he anticipates inviting nine students to campus for hearings, which he expects to be completed by the end of spring quarter. He added that four graduates will not have a hearing, but are being asked to work with a faculty adviser on rewrites in order for their theses to be accepted. Three cases have been dismissed. 

In order to facilitate conversation about all campus issues, the university will hold its second University Town Hall meeting from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, in the Baker University Center Ballroom. At that event, McDavis plans to report on issues brought up at the first town hall meeting and take advantage of an opportunity for meaningful conversation with the campus community.

"We certainly want to invite as many faculty, staff and students as possible," he said.

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Written by Elizabeth Boyle

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

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