Education Faculty offer criticism of McDavis in Board of Trustees’ open forum By Kat Tenbarge Posted on August 30, 2016 5 min read 1 0 672 Photo by Kat Tenbarge The Ohio University Board of Trustees held a public forum Tuesday to allow faculty, staff, students and community members to voice opinions about the kind of candidate who should replace President Roderick McDavis. David Wolfort, chair of the Board of Trustees, hosted the event while John Thornburgh and Dennis Barden, both senior partners of Witt/Kieffer, sat alongside him. The organization Thornburgh and Barden represent was chosen to assist in a nationwide and potentially international search to find the next president of Ohio University. The search is in its second phase, in which a 21-person board comprised of faculty, staff, students, Athens community members, regional campus representatives, alumni, administrators and university senate leaders will conduct institutional analyses, identify presidential criteria and undergo initial screenings. Richard Vedder, distinguished professor emeritus of economics, presented his findings from the U.S. News annual college rankings. His findings indicated that since McDavis took office in 2004, OU’s ranking has fallen from 98 to 136, dropping an average of three spots per year. Vedder noted that Ohio State University rose in the rankings during this time period, and the gap between OU and Miami University grew. “Our decline in academic excellence is costing OU graduates, yearly,” Vedder said. “According to the U.S. Department of Education’s scorecard, the average salary after attending OU is 39,500 dollars a year … Employers increasingly view Ohio University as a mediocre establishment instead of the public Ivy League it should be.” The vast majority of commentators were faculty members, who each gave short speeches up to two minutes long. “We invest in many things at this university, we’ve invested in student services, I think in very good ways, we’ve invested in administration in many ways that have taken away from support for academics… We need a president who will commit to working with and growing and replacing the group 1 tenure-eligible faculty that we’ve lost,” said Judith Yaross Lee, a distinguished professor of communication studies who has been at OU for 27 years. delfin bautista, director of the LGBT Center, said they are looking for a president with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and justice, not just for African-American and black students but also for Latino, Pacific Islander, Asian and Native American students, as well as for students with disabilities and varied genders and sexual orientations. “This commitment to diversity and justice (should) not only be reflected in student services and athletics, but also in retaining diverse faculty and staff,” bautista said. “If we don’t have a diverse faculty and staff, we can’t diversify the student body.” Other speakers described their ideal presidential candidate as devoting more funds to faculty research, maintaining and expanding on sustainability, renovating the fine arts facilities, dedicating resources to the graduate student program, strengthening involvement in the greater Athens community, recognizing student veterans and more. McDavis will leave office on June 30, 2017, when his contract expires. Editor’s Note: delfin prefers to use the plural they/them pronouns and not capitalize their name.