During her discussion with Ohio University-Lancaster faculty and staff on Wednesday, Oct.14, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit used the phrase "deja vu" to describe her visit, remembering "getting soaked" during her last visit to the campus when she attended the Lancaster Festival during the summer. That was a rainy day without an umbrella and her most recent visit was wet, too.
The visit to the Lancaster campus was Benoit's second stop on a fall-quarter tour of OHIO's regional campuses. She will report her initial findings from conversations with various constituent groups during Founders Day activities on Feb. 19.
Benoit's Lancaster visit began with a tour of the campus, which included the newly renovated library. Library Director Ann Watson was especially proud of the changes within the library.
"It's much more modern to accommodate the current needs of students," Watson said. Referring to the length of time since the space had undergone major renovations, she added, "Students study differently now than they did in 1968."
Benoit spent additional time in the library talking with students in one of the group study rooms. She asked the students about their majors and why they chose to attend Ohio University-Lancaster. Most of the students said proximity was a major draw as well as the availability of particular programs, including communication, business and deaf studies.
When Benoit indicated that she was open to questions, one student asked what a typical day is like for the provost. Benoit explained though there aren't any typical days and said she has had particularly long days as she gets acquainted with the position she began about three months ago. She said she usually gets into the office before 7 a.m. and leaves around 10 p.m. Benoit also shared that she is enjoying her time at OHIO, adding, "It's fun."
Students gave high marks to the campus' faculty, stating that the enthusiasm of their professors makes them feel welcome, supported and exciting about learning.
The gymnasium, which also has undergone recent renovations, was included on the tour. Jenny La Rue, Lancaster campus' public information officer, served as tour guide and explained the importance of sports programs at the regional campus to "help the students become better connected to the university."
In another session, Benoit met with about 50 faculty and staff members. She opened the forum by sharing some of Lancaster's achievements -- increased enrollment, the quick development of the Pickerington Center and a strong commitment to community. She told the audience that regional campuses at Ohio University are, "an integral part of the university's strategic plan."
At her prompting, attendees shared what they value about the university, the accomplishments they are most proud of and concerns they have.
Several individuals readily shared their points of pride, with many of the responses focusing on the culture of the regional campus atmosphere and its mission of educational access.
Among the concerns raised, budget uncertainties and the restructuring planning that is under way were important to many. Discussions reflected on the effects of the economy and Benoit shared that there are very tough decisions that need to be made.
She also shared that she will be communicating through her Web site (www.ohio.edu/provost) and Twitter account (twitter.com/PamBenoit), as well as through a blog, to facilitate greater participation from the regional campuses.
Benoit is scheduled to visit Eastern and Zanesville campuses next, on Thursday, Oct. 29.