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President Nellis outlines administration’s priorities at Student Senate meeting

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Ohio U President Duane Nellis attends his first Student Senate meeting as university president.

Nellis’ visit to Ohio U’s Student Senate was his first of spring semester. 

Ohio University President Duane Nellis addressed the Ohio U Student Senate for the first time this semester during Wednesday’s meeting, where he discussed topics ranging from sustainability to social media.

Nellis outlined some of the university’s current priorities. His agenda included appointing a new vice president for university advancement, a vice president for diversity and inclusion, an alumni director and a university provost.

The position for vice president for university advancement, whose responsibilities include: CEO of Ohio U Foundation, chair of alumni organization and fundraising, has three finalists. Nellis said the finalists for university provost can be expected by mid-February.

Nellis framed the state of current university budget cuts as tactical.

“We try to make budget cuts in the context of our strategic priorities,” Nellis said.

Nellis, in a stark change of pace, discussed what a student body could do to encourage diversity and inclusion on campus by working with the staff and Nellis himself. Creating a dialogue that is respectful to everyone on campus is a necessity, Nellis said.

“We want to create an engagement building system that works for everyone on campus,” Nellis said, “We are enriched by the diversity we have.”

He then segued to the topic of sustainability. Asking the Senate, “what are we doing to promote a better sustainable environment for the future?”

Lydia Ramlo, Commissioner of Environmental Affairs, later asked Nellis how he sees sustainability prioritized given that in fall of 2017, 25 percent of the budget for the Office of Sustainability was cut.

The cut has left the office in a bind according to Ramlo. Of the five original staff members, three have been forced to leave and the August 2018 sustainability plan has been pushed back to January of 2019, Ramos said.

Nellis concluded by urging students to take an active role in promoting the university through social media engagement.

“It is a powerful thing when we are collectively working together to advance the university,” Nellis said.

Following Nellis’ speech, members of Student Senate pressed him with questions about diversity of thought on campus, student involvement in the community at large, mental health and faculty diversity.

When asked about mental health, Nellis gave the stage to Ohio U Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones. According to Hall-Jones, the university has received roughly $1 million to invest into the mental health programs. So far, six full-time psychologists and mental health professionals and one psychiatrist have been hired, Hall-Jones said.

The senate passed five resolutions during the meeting with sweeping agreement on most topics. The addition of a new Regional Campus Affairs Commission, the appointment of one new member to the International Affairs Commission and the Off-Campus Life Commission and a revision to the Student Senate rules and procedures are now in motion.

The final resolution passed was for a pizza party hosted by the Women’s Affairs Commission. The meeting is designed to bring people together for a discussion about gender in society and the advancement that can be made on that front. The pizza will be from Avalanche Pizza and the party will be held  Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 in Baker University Center. 

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