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Thursday, June 17, 2004
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Coming home
Roderick McDavis looks ahead to his tenure as the first alumnus to lead Ohio University in 131 years

By Joan Slattery Wall

Without his education at Ohio University, Roderick McDavis says, he would not have arrived at his newest career opportunity: being selected as the 20th president of his alma mater.

Roderick J. McDavis. Photo by Rick Fatica"More than most, I realize the value of this university, and the significance and importance of this university," he says, "in the lives of hundreds of thousands of alums as well as in the lives of those students who inhabit this university today."

McDavis, 55, who earned his bachelor's degree in social sciences in secondary education from Ohio University in 1970, officially began his appointment July 1 following the retirement of President Robert Glidden. McDavis is leaving his post as provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of education at Virginia Commonwealth University.

His immediate plans as Ohio University's new leader include forming a campus-wide committee to discuss goals for the next 10 to 20 years.

"Hitting the ground running," he says, "involves listening to the community. I want to sit down with the faculty, students, staff and Athens community and hear from them what they think some of the major issues are ? and to begin to address those in a fairly quick manner.

"One of the key points of our administration is going to be what's in the best interest of Ohio University," McDavis says. "If we make decisions on that basis, we'll be fine."

The incoming president says he's looking forward to interacting with students both formally and informally.

Incoming President Roderick and First Lady Deborah McDavis."I want to walk about campus and talk with students on the Greens," he says, adding that he's already accepted an invitation to sit with students in the O-Zone at a basketball game. "It's important for students to be able to approach and talk with the president."

In addition to looking forward through the eyes of students, he says, he wants to work with the University's former presidents to move Ohio University to greater heights. In fact, he was in awe when, on the day his appointment was announced, he received a call from President Vernon Alden.

"You cannot imagine the feeling I had," he told the crowd at his welcoming reception on campus last week, "to speak to the gentleman who was president when I was a 20-something junior or senior. And now I'm going to be sitting in the same chair that he sat in. Folks, that's special; that's rare."

Joan Slattery Wall is assistant editor of Ohio Today, Ohio University's alumni magazine.

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