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What is former Governor Ted Strickland doing on campus?

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Former Gov. Ted Strickland is one of several introductory speakers at the Ohio U Clinton rally in 2016. File Photo by Ivy O'Shaughnessy.

If students are surprised to see a former governor staying in their dorm, speaking in their classes or roaming their campus, here’s why Ted Strickland has come to town. 

Much like students at Ohio University, former Gov. Ted Strickland is in Athens trying to decide what he wants to do with his future.

“Why am I here? I’m trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life,” Strickland said.

“I enjoy being around students and being in an academic environment. I think it’s personally stimulating.”

Since his loss to Sen. Rob Portman for the U.S. Senate seat in November 2016, Strickland has taken time off from politics and is now speaking to sociology and political science classes at Ohio U.

He said he organized his Athens visit with the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Robert Frank, with the purpose of speaking directly to students about his experiences thus far.

“I have had a lot of experiences and I thought if I can share those with students, I can maybe encourage them and inspire them,” Strickland said.

“Perhaps they’ll get something out of it, and I’ll get something out of it just by having the opportunity to interact with young people.”

Strickland, the former governor of Ohio and former U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 6th district, decided to speak to Ohio U students in particular because of his close connection to Southeast Ohio.

“Ohio has a lot of great institutions, but OU is a superb university. It’s located in Appalachia and I think that makes it kind of a special place,” Strickland said.

Strickland said he also chose to speak at Ohio U over other Ohio schools because of the diverse cultural opportunities it offers to students.

Maggie Nelson, a sophomore studying communication studies and political science, said she was surprised to see the former governor speak to her political science class.

“I was intrigued that he came to Ohio University,” Nelson said.

“But then I learned that he’s from Southeast Ohio, and I didn’t know that before, so I thought it was really interesting that he’s coming back to where he’s from.”

Strickland, who was born and raised in Scioto County, said he likes speaking to students because of their openness to world issues.

“I enjoy being in the classroom and getting with students. I enjoy the energy that comes from younger people who are anxious to learn,” Strickland said.

Sarah Poggione, associate professor and chair of the Political Science Department, told the College of Arts and Sciences Forum that the department is fortunate to have the chance for students to speak with Strickland.

“These interactions not only show students a range of careers in public affairs, but also help demonstrate the complexity of political decisions,” Poggione said.

Strickland will be on campus speaking to students until the end of October.

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