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A celebration of excellence and place
Founders Day recognizes academic achievements, contributions

Feb 15, 2008  
By Jennifer Krisch

"There's something about this place."

Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl reiterated that familiar phrase for the hundreds assembled for Ohio University's 2008 Founders Day Convocation this morning. It resonated.

Gathered at Baker University Center to celebrate the academic accomplishments and contributions of students and faculty -- a list more than 200 strong -- the hundreds in attendance were treated to excerpts from a recent series of essays that captures the lure of Ohio University, Athens and the region. The audience responded with an extended standing ovation.

Over the summer, Krendl asked a group of faculty and staff to pen the essays, which examine some of the aspects, both seen and unseen, of the unique region Ohio University calls home. The series appears on her office's Web site.

The essayists -- Elliot Abrams, Geoff Buckley, Richard Greenlee (a banjo strapped over his shoulder), Sam Crowl, Scott Miller and Joe Shields (with Tutorial College Dean Ann Fidler reading) -- told of how the region's ancient peoples, lush landscapes, unique music, night skies, background in coal and tantalizing architecture -- coupled with the university's rich history -- drew them in.

A Day of Honors

Krendl opened the convocation by asking those assembled to pause for a moment of silence in honor of those killed and wounded in Thursday's shooting tragedy at Northern Illinois University.

Joined on the platform by President Roderick J. McDavis and others, Krendl recognized Ohio University's commitment to academic excellence.

"The 2008 Founders Day Convocation celebrates Ohio University as a place of promise," she said. "Today we will recognize students and colleagues who are allowing us to fulfill our promise."

Fidler commended more than 120 students who received scholarships and awards for academic achievement.

"During the past academic year, Ohio University students earned 50 nationally and internationally competitive awards," she said. "This is an achievement that speaks to the talents and ambitions of the young women and men who put in the time and the energy needed to compete for these awards. But it is also an achievement that demonstrates the tremendous capacity that faculty at Ohio University have for engaging students and for their willingness to augment that engagement with mentorship."

Krendl acknowledged 10 faculty members who this past year were honored for their outstanding teaching practices, devotion to student success and commitment to the university and surrounding community.

"The university's success in developing student potential owes to the richness of student-faculty engagement," Krendl said, quoting from the university's defining statement. "Founders Day provides the university a chance to acknowledge some of the exceptionally talented and dedicated individuals on our faculty."

Krendl also presented Vision OHIO Excellence Awards to Timothy Anderson and Geoff Buckley, associate professors of geography, for their extensive work in helping others gain an appreciation for the southeast Ohio region that plays such an important part in the life of the university. (See related story.)

A Link to History

Delivering the Founders Day Address, McDavis reflected on the vision of founders Manasseh Cutler and Rufus Putnam as well as on his own days as a student.

"This is the kind of vibrant learning community that our founders envisioned for this university in the Northwest Territory," he said. "Their trust that Ohio University would continue to be a place of promise has been passed to each generation of scholars, faculty and staff. It is our legacy.

"When I think back to my time as an Ohio University student, I remember the connection I had with faculty and the impact of that relationship on my future aspirations," he said. "Those interactions opened my mind to new ideas and new possibilities, helping me to realize my own promise as a future educator.

"It is the experiences we offer, our beautiful community, and the people that make Ohio University, indeed, a singular place," he said. 

The Founders Day celebration will close tonight with a public lecture by the university's newest Distinguished Professor, Mark Phillips of the School of Music. He will present "Behind the Music: How and Why I Compose" at 7:30 p.m. in Walter Hall 135. 

This story was updated Feb. 21, 2008, to add video links.

Related Links
Honorees, audience members share thoughts of celebration http://www.ohio.edu/outlook/07-08/February/340.cfm
Professors earn Vision OHIO Excellence awards http://www.ohio.edu/outlook/07-08/February/339.cfm
Watch Founders Day 2008 convocation video http://www.ohio.edu/av/scholars/crowl2.cfm

Published: Feb 15, 2008 04:09 PM  

Watch video

View videos featuring some of OHIO's top student and faculty scholars, who were recognized at the convocation.

Photo by Kevin Riddell

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis reflected on the university's history and promise for the future during his convocation address.

Click here to download a PDF of the convocation program.

Rich Greenlee at the Founders Day convocation

Associate Professor of Social Work Richard Greenlee closed a reading from his "Of Place" essay on Appalachian music with a banjo performance.

Photographer: Kevin Riddell

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