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McDavis celebrates accomplishments during final faculty commencement

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President Roderick McDavis presented a summary of his accomplishments during his 12-year tenure at his final Faculty and Staff Convocation on Wednesday afternoon.

“The Rise of OHIO’s Third Century: Inauguration and Beyond” carried a sentimental and nostalgic, but also triumphant, tone.

During his inaugural address in September 2004, McDavis outlined four goals: that Ohio University would become a nationally prominent research university, to increase diversity within the university, to secure the necessary financial resources to rise to national prominence as a research university and to increase partnerships in the region, throughout the state and throughout the nation.

McDavis said his goal of becoming a nationally recognized research institution was met in terms of rankings, awards and certifications.

“We are first in the nation for overall student satisfaction, and ranked 14th among college and university ‘best buys.’ We are one of the top producers of Fulbright Scholars nationwide, and our Marching 110 was named the best college marching band,” McDavis said.

In terms of environmental accomplishments, McDavis reported that Ohio University received national recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency as one of the largest green-powered universities in the country. The recent Schoonover Center for Communication renovations also earned a gold LEED certification.

With his diversity initiative, McDavis said the campus is the most diverse it has ever been, increasing enrollment of African-American students by more than 100 percent. The Ohio University Factbook shows an increase in the African American student body of 5 percent to 5.2 percent between 2009 and 2015.

“We have more students of color, and students from Appalachia who attend Ohio University than ever before… That is the transformative power of an Ohio University education that our founders envisioned and you make a reality every day,” McDavis said.

McDavis highlighted the LGBT Center’s work and its acceptance of the Equity and Inclusion Award for its work on the preferred pronoun policy.

In terms of securing financial resources, McDavis said the university has significantly increased state funds for its operating budget and that the Senate Bill 6 ratio, an indicator of financial health, has increased since 2004. Ohio University’s debt management strategy is estimated to net 1.4 billion dollars for deferred maintenance projects over the next hundred years with no additional debt.

Stating that it was one of his proudest moments, McDavis announced that alumni donated over half a billion dollars for The Promise Lives campaign. Sixty-five percent will be used for academic programs, faculty and research and scholarships, 23 percent will be used for capital projects and building renovations and 12 percent will be used for other university programs, according to McDavis.

“These are real people we are helping, real lives you are impacting, real change Ohio University is making possible. The Promise Lives campaign will allow Ohio University even more high-ranking students,” McDavis said.

McDavis concluded his speech by noting that when he arrived in office, there were 16 learning communities with 279 students enrolled, or 7 percent of OU’s total enrollment. In 2016, there are 235 learning communities with about 90 percent of freshmen enrolled. To keep Ohio University moving forward, financial health must be insured, he said.

Catherine Euler, a grade 3 instructor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, thought McDavis did a good job explaining what the community has accomplished throughout the tenure of his presidency.

“I think his commitment to increasing diversity has stood out to me, and his support of the students who have been standing in support of Black Lives Matter. I don’t think he had to do that, but he did and I think that took a lot of courage,” Euler said.

McDavis will leave office on June 30, 2017, when his contract expires.

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