Hello from Davenport, Iowa and the National Association of Branch Campus Administrators (NABCA) conference! While I was invited here to present on the town-gown work I have been doing, this has also been a tremendous opportunity to find out how well things are (or are not) going on other regional and branch campuses across the nation. Given what I have heard this week, we should be counting our blessings. If you think the headlines about cuts to universities in other states have been startling, you need to double (at least) your shock about the hits that the regional systems have been absorbing. No doubt many of these regional and branch campuses are in crisis mode, yet at the same time I am learning quite a bit about the creative opportunities that also are arising as a result. And for you long-timers on the Mansfield campus, you will appreciate the fact that I had the chance to meet Charlie Bird, who was the Associate Dean under John Riedl. Now retired from Ohio University, Charlie recently wrote a book on this subject area entitled “Out on a Limb: A Branch Campus Life.”
Here is a quick rundown of some of the things that have happened on the Mansfield campus over the past two weeks:
- Our Department of Student Life hosted their Annual Student Success Luncheon at the beginning of last week, celebrating the achievements of faculty, staff and students. Many students who made the Dean’s List for the Fall 2014 semester were in attendance, as were students who faculty and staff recognized for their leadership, service, work orientation, and “noble character” (you just have to love the fact that 25 of our students were recognized in this last category!). A variety of additional awards were given out to faculty and staff members who were identified by students for their many contributions to student success or otherwise were distinguished as having made a significant difference in the lives of our students.
- The Advancement Team hosted a very lively luncheon last week for donors who have given to our scholarship efforts, paring them with the students who have actually benefited from their generosity. It was abundantly clear from the testimonies that we heard that scholarships have an enormous positive benefit to our students, even when the amounts seem modest.
- We await reactions to the campus culture committee’s report from Faculty Assembly (scheduled for next week). Following this, the committee will meet to finalize their recommendations.
- Dave Tovey and I have started to meet with faculty for their annual reviews. At the time of this report, we have already met with one-third of the faculty members. If you have not yet scheduled your meeting with us, please do so as soon as possible!
- Last week, the English department sponsored a panel discussion on career options for English and history majors. Maura Teynor, Director of Donor Services and Communications at the Richland County Foundation, and former OSUM English majors Jason Spoon, Associate Human Resources Representative at Stonegate (formerly Hi-Stat), and David Yoder, Platform & Technology Manager at Richland Source all gathered in Ovalwood Hall to help students answer that nagging question: “so what can you do with that English or history degree?” All three participants recognized the important skills that English and history majors bring to the work force and offered advice about how students can use campus resources—such as writing and digital media courses and internships—to make the most of their degrees. We plan more events like this for the fall along with strategically publicizing the success of our OSU English alumni. Many thanks go out to Cynthia Callahan for her leadership on this exciting initiative!
- Following a very successful meeting several weeks ago with Jeff Sharp, Director of the School of Environmental and Natural Resources, Heather Tanner has been leading the charge to develop a brochure that SENR faculty and staff members will begin to use immediately in referring students to the Mansfield campus. Your efforts to jumpstart this partnership are much appreciated Heather!
Diversity and inclusion issues
- As you know from my last report, we kicked off the No More campaign on our campus two weeks ago. In addition to thanking Renee Thompson for her leadership on this effort, at this time I would like to point out that our College of Social Work Student Association (CSWSA) also had a big hand in forming the No More group and pulling off this initial event. Many thanks to Mary Jo Hawk, Luann Howard, and all of the members of the CSWSA team for their hard work and dedication to making this group become a reality on the Mansfield campus.
Property and facilities
- Last week, Brian White and I met with members of the Richland County Foundation in order to discuss possible partnerships surrounding the desire to build a comprehensive trail system on the Mansfield campus. Their administrative team has agreed to host a community summit of potential stakeholders in this project, likely to convene in the latter part of May. More details will be forthcoming.
- While at the NABCA conference, I met a group of Chicago-based real estate developers who specialize in building walkable communities near regional and branch campuses (who knew?). I am now working to connect this group with the appropriate decision-makers at the local level.
From the flight deck
Last week I joined a group of Mansfield faculty members on the Columbus campus to wish Terri Fisher the heartiest of congratulations on her having received the Susan Hartmann Mentoring and Leadership Award. Also accompanied by members of her family, our presence during the reception was gratifying both in terms of the amount of support lent to Terri and the significant visibility we exhibited to our Columbus colleagues. As I learned from colleagues at the NABCA conference this week, conspicuousness is one of the keys to success for regional campuses. Go Bucks and Go Ohio State Mansfield!