Dean’s Report Feb. 7, 2014

Dear Ohio State Mansfield Colleagues,

This past Thursday, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees announced that the 15th President of our outstanding institution was going to be Michael Drake, MD. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Drake for breakfast last Friday, and I came away from that encounter with great hope. Clearly, Dr. Drake is a strong proponent of access and affordability, and seems to know a thing or two about growing student housing as well (I couldn’t help but mention our excitement about the rapid construction of the Buckeye Village Apartments). Others have already taken notice of the clear connection between his agenda and our mission as a regional campus. I continue to believe that the best is yet to come for Mansfield!

Two weeks ago, I debuted a new look to my Bi-Weekly Reports. I noted my hope that the new format would facilitate the reader’s ability to track our progress on many of the most important initiatives touching the lives of our campus community. Immediately after sending that report out, I also extended an invitation to participate in a survey about the new format. A total of 26 individuals responded to that survey, and 85% of those participant indicated that they liked the new format either “much better” (58%) or “a little bit better” (27%). I’m going to take that as a fairly strong mandate to continue to employ this new look. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to provide feedback!

Without any further ado, let’s get to the business at hand in terms of what has occurred over the last two weeks in each of the main areas I have promised to cover in each edition of my Bi-Weekly Report.

Decision-making about faculty and staff positions

Last week, I met with all of the main leadership groups on campus – including Faculty Assembly, Senior Staff, and the Mansfield Staff Advisory Committee (MSAC) – prior to meeting with Executive Committee (EC) to discuss the next steps in process of applying findings from the Art of Hosting (AoH) report to our efforts to fill faculty and staff positions labeled “Need Now” by the AoH committee. After a spirited discussion, EC passed a formal recommendation requesting that I send out to the entire campus the justification documents regarding the three “Need Now” staff positions, along with the active solicitation of “creative solutions” from campus community members that might help us find some alternative paths to hiring three new fulltime staff positions at this time. Those justifications and the invitation to submit “creative solutions” went out at the end of last week, and at present I am beginning to sort through the ideas that have been submitted. My hope is to have something pulled together for further discussion at our next EC meeting, scheduled to be held on February 13th.

We welcomed the second of two candidates for the open Education Teaching and Learning position last Thursday. I will be acting on the recommendations of the Search Committee soon, and hope to have an announcement in the very near future. Also, a new Columbus campus representative recently was appointed to the EEOB Search Committee to speed up the process of getting critical feedback from the TIU. A first slate of candidates is expected to be Skype interviewed in the next couple of weeks, with campus visits to follow.

Development of majors, destination programs, and other academic offerings and issues

A meeting has been scheduled for Monday March 17th so that Jennifer Cowley and David Tomasko from the College of Engineering can present information about a possible second year engineering program to the Curriculum Committee. Also on the agenda for that meeting is a discussion about opportunities surrounding an eventual four year program in Engineering on the Mansfield campus.

Diversity and inclusion issues

I would be remiss if I did not mention the pride being expressed by almost everyone that I encounter regarding the appointment of Dr. Drake, who will become Ohio State’s first African American president. What a great note to sound during Black History Month!

This past week, our own Scopas Poggo presented “Nelson Mandela: A Celebration of His Legacy” in a talk sponsored by Ohio State Mansfield, North Central State College, and Ashland University’s School of Nursing.

Land use

Last Friday, I met with Physical Planning and Real Estate (PPARE) staff, including Brenda Smith (who many of you will remember as having played a prominent role in our Framework Plan) and Keith Myers, the Assistant Vice President of PPARE. We were joined in that meeting by representatives of MKSK, a landscape architectural and planning firm. MKSK has offered to lend its expertise to the Richland County Development Group (RCDG) as it begins to think through their facilitation of development in the campus district, as well as for Mansfield and Ontario officials interested in the construction of a joint economic development agreement for the Lexington-Springmill corridor. Meetings will be scheduled shortly to facilitate those endeavors for our community partners.

Planning in support of a more residential campus

No news to report at this time.

Renovation and repair

No news to report at this time.

Town-Gown relationships

This past Tuesday, the RCDG leadership team officially approved the formation of the Campus District Sector. On the same day, a group of students from the City and Regional Planning course that has adopted Richland County as its focal point visited the Ohio State Mansfield campus. While here, those students received a tour of our physical facilities, and then met with Brian White to gain a conceptual overview of the campus-community ties that are being fostered through a series of projects stemming directly from our Framework Plan.

Mood elevator

We have a new president coming on board June 30th, and with him will come what is sure to be a new round of activities designed to move The Ohio State University to even greater heights of eminence. No doubt many of the items on Dr. Drake’s agenda will line up quite well with the major efforts we are engaged in already here on the Mansfield campus.

Thanks to each and every one of you who are doing all you can to move the Ohio State Mansfield campus forward. Go Bucks… Going Up!

‘Snow Dawgz’ brave winter weather to keep Mansfield campus open

By day, they are maintenance workers and groundskeepers at The Ohio State University at Mansfield. But when snow is in the forecast, the “Snow Dawgz” are the first, and sometimes only, employees who are required to report to work.

“They are relentless,” said Brian White, superintendent, Mansfield Campus Plant Operations and Maintenance. “They clear the snow and then are expected to take care of setting up for meetings and building maintenance and all of their normal duties. They are very proud of their ability to keep the campus open.”

Nicknamed “Snow Dawgz” by a professor a few years ago, they travel snow-packed roads from Lucas, New Washington, Crestline and Ashland, as well as from Mansfield, usually rousted by a phone call about 3 a.m., to prepare the campus by 7 a.m. for employee and student arrival. The campus rarely closes for snow events.

Tim Robinette, groundskeeper at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, prepares for an upcoming snow event by loading a salt truck at the Schuttera Service Center. The groundskeepers and maintenance crew are responsible for keeping the campus open for classes during the winter.

“We usually arrive within about a half-hour after the call,” said Tim Robinette, groundskeeper. “Some of us live in adjacent counties where it might be a higher level snow emergency than Richland County. We still try to report for duty if we can safely.”

The crew of nine is responsible for several miles of roadways on the Mansfield campus, as well as sidewalks and more than a half-dozen large parking lots that service both Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College.

Equipment does dual duty – six pick-up trucks are retrofitted for winter with snow plows, a loader is used to fill a salt truck, and tractors are fitted with plows and sweepers to clean sidewalks. A local snow removal company is on speed-dial in case heavier equipment is needed.

Their work this season has been nearly non-stop. They have had more call-ins, as they refer to the early morning phone calls, to date than all of last year, according to Larry Stimpert, building maintenance superintendent. In a typical winter, the “Snow Dawgz” respond to about 20 to 25 call-ins. By mid-January this year, they’ve already reported for snow duty 19 times.

There’s only one shift and they sometimes work 12 to 14 hours before leaving. Crews usually bring clothes, sleeping bags and food for the rare occasion when they can’t get back home.

Every snow is different, Robinette says. Depending on the temperature and humidity, at times crews can use brushes on the tractors to clear fluffy snow, while at other times plows are needed to push the snow into large mounds at the edges of parking lots. Crews must hand-shovel several stairways.

“That sub-zero weather tore us up,” Robinette said. “The last few snows, it’s taken us two or three days to clean the parking lots and access areas. Then the snow melts, it freezes at night and we are back at it the next day to remove the ice. We really look forward to spring.”