The first of four Presidential Search Open Forums filled Baker Center’s Ballroom Tuesday evening, welcoming Duane M. Nellis to campus. The former Texas Tech University president answered questions ranging from diversity and inclusion, and tenure to athletics, expanding upon why he would be a good fit for Ohio University.
Nellis has extensive experience in academia and received his doctorate in geography from Oregon State University in 1980. Since then he has served as president at Texas Tech, University of Idaho and held executive administrative positions at Kansas State University and West Virginia University.
He discussed last year’s graffiti controversies and how to shift OU’s reputation as a party school to a more academic focus. Nellis stressed his support of tenure tracks for professors, maintaining a diverse, international population at OU and using intercollegiate athletics as marketing for the university.
“Athletics are in many ways the front porch of the institution, but it needs to be balanced with the needs on the academic side,” Nellis said. “I do think it provides this ability for the institution and certainly the diversity that’s associated with student athletes, and the interaction with various academic programs, as it’s part of the marketing.”
Nellis also expressed support for an international expansion in the form of study abroad, referring to a required international experience for students as “the future.” He is a proponent of an increased presence of international students and professors at the university.
During his time at Texas Tech Nellis was involved in the expansion of the international interaction at the institution. From fall 2013-2014 alone, the international student population increased by 22 percent.
The next presidential forum will feature Dean L. Bresciani, the president of North Dakota University, on Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m. in Baker Center Ballroom. A livestream of the event can be found here.