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McDavis: 'We are focused on solving problems'
President reacts to critical letter; trustees express support for administration

ATHENS, Ohio (May 2, 2007) -- In an interview this morning concerning a critical letter shared last week with the chair of the board of trustees, Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis said he understands there are worries within the university community and he remains committed to addressing them. 

The letter cites, among other issues, a drop in the university's retention rate in recent years, budget challenges and negative media coverage of campus problems. The president said he received a copy of the letter last Friday from board Chair R. Gregory Browning, who this morning expressed the board's full support for McDavis and Provost Kathy Krendl. 

"I certainly want the community to know that Provost Krendl and I fully understand how people feel right now," McDavis said. "We understand that they are worried, and when they worry, they express their concerns. Certainly I believe they have a right to do that.

"But we are focused on solving problems and making our university better every day and working with members of our academic community to make that possible."

Although the letter was unsigned, Distinguished Professor of Economics Richard Vedder acknowledged this morning that he shared it with Browning last week. He said it was still in draft form and was composed by a group of about 10 senior faculty members who intended to sign the final version.

"We all love Ohio University and we are not trying to embarrass Ohio University," Vedder said. "Our interest is to improve Ohio University." 

Since the letter surfaced, Vedder said, he and other members of the group have met with McDavis and Krendl to share concerns about the university's priorities and decision-making processes. He said he came out of that meeting encouraged and interested in hearing how the administration will address institutional challenges.

"We see some good-faith efforts being made to make a mid-course correction, and we may well be supporting it," Vedder said. "If that happens, you wouldn't be hearing any more from this group."

McDavis, although declining to speak to specifics within the letter, noted, "I share the general concerns that were expressed." He added that the lack of clarity on the budget is a particular challenge.

"We're working hard to get answers to questions so that we can do the very best job we can to continue to enhance the academic quality of the university. That's the top priority: to stay focused on the academic mission of the university," he said. "This is a great university that's working hard to get better. We are academically healthy, and there is much excellence across our university. 

"I remain committed to the road that we set as an institution, and I'm excited about our future," McDavis added. "We need to be patient and remain optimistic. It took us a long time to get where we are today with some of our legacies, issues and problems, and it's going to take us a while to get them solved."

Browning said the trustees are not unfamiliar with issues raised in the letter.

"These are questions that the board, the president, the faculty and other stakeholders are addressing," Browning said. "We move forward from a board perspective fully in support of the president and the provost."

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Written by: Mary Alice Casey, Ohio University's director of university communications. 

Media Contact: Senior Director of Media Relations Sally Linder, 740-597-1793 or lilnders@ohio.edu

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