Updated Fri, Aug 29, 2014 5:17 pm
Ohio University President Roderick McDavis reflected on his first decade at the helm of the university and the transformations he has seen during his annual State of the University address to faculty and staff on Wednesday.
McDavis, a 1970 OU alumnus, took the president’s oath at his alma mater in 2004.
“Ten years has given me pause to reflect on Ohio University’s story and the chapters that have been added since I assumed office,” he told the crowd gathered in the Walter Hall Rotunda. “As we gather today, evidence of our growth is all over campus.”
McDavis pointed out the recent physical changes to the Athens and regional campuses, such as the current construction of four new residence halls to house 900 students, the newly dedicated Walter Fieldhouse and the opening of the Dublin medical college over the weekend.
“Our footprint on the state is greater than ever before,” he said.
The president also talked about how the experience for first-year students has been enhanced over the years, pointing to expanded learning communities and advisors assigned specifically to at-risk and first-generation students. He said the university wants to welcome each student with open arms and make sure they succeed.
“We care for them and about them,” McDavis said.
For the third consecutive year, OU had a record-breaking number of first-year applications. OU received 20,935 applications for the current academic year — an increase of 56 percent over 2011, according to McDavis. At a time when other public universities are seeing a decline in enrollment, McDavis said the OU Class of 2018 is the largest, most diverse and brightest class in OU’s history.
Next year’s incoming class will be the first to take part in OU’s new guaranteed tuition model, which provides students and their families an upfront locked-in price for tuition, room and board and fees for four years without worrying about tuition increases. McDavis said the university has also increased the amount of financial aid and endowed scholarships to make college more affordable for students.
McDavis also reported that the university’s $450 million capital campaign met its goal a year ahead of schedule. As of Thursday, the Promise Lives campaign had raised $466 million. The campaign will end next spring.
During his time as OU president, McDavis said the university has worked to break down academic silos and move toward a more interdisciplinary model. OU has also increased the number of partnerships it has in other countries, giving students and faculty the opportunity to gain global knowledge. The university currently has 78 partnerships with universities in 38 countries.
McDavis stated that he takes pride in answering the call to aid in societal needs. One way he said OU is doing that is by expanding its medical college footprint in the state to train more primary care physicians to prepare for the growing physician shortage. The university is partnering with the Cleveland Clinic to open a campus in the Cleveland area. McDavis also pointed out that OU is now home to Ohio’s largest nursing school.
The president touched on the university’s goal of making all OU campuses fully accessible for persons with disabilities within the next decade. He also stated that the university rolled out a new mandatory online course for new students on how to prevent sexual assault called “Not Any More.”
McDavis told faculty and staff that Ohio University’s story is their story.
“These accomplishments are your accomplishments; our transformative learning experience is a direct result of your hard work,” he said. “And it is my hope that having the chance to come together and celebrate all that we have accomplished reignites our passion for the important work that we will do in future years.”