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A Worthwhile Discussion

12 Nov

I appreciate the dialogue on diversity and inclusiveness that has been taking place on the blog.  This was the type of discussion I was hoping to prompt with my post.  I want to comment on several of the ideas that have been generated in the process.

My earlier post stemmed from concerns that were raised about a confrontation that occurred off campus between a former student who is African American and a group of white men who were not students (inquiries into their status have shown that at least those who were identified to authorities were not students).   The post addressed issues related to the intersection of the university and the Athens community, and the need to be self-reflective about this relationship and its contributions to our diversity efforts.  Some of the comments addressed this theme directly.  For example, Ed feels that the “university, through its actions and accommodations will not directly influence off-campus persons in their actions” while Brian has a different view explaining how “we’re working with the local community to reach beyond campus and positively impact the region.”

Two points of clarification.  The original blog entry did not blame those in town who are not associated with the university nor did it seek to avoid responsibility for racial issues on campus.  The university’s role and responsibilities concerning diversity and civility issues on all of our campuses are important.  I give credit to the efforts of my colleagues in the Office of Diversity, Access, and Equity who have worked to infuse diversity throughout institutional programs, policies, and practices.  Their work along with the work of student groups, faculty, and staff has provided all of us tools that we can use as individuals to help create a supportive, affirming, and positive environment.

Face-to-face conversations that Vice Provost Brian Bridges, Vice President Kent Smith, Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi, and I have had with faculty and students about this issue have been productive.  We have discussed the ways in which current and future educational programs, training opportunities, student surveys, and collaborations with our communities will allow us to grow ever closer to being places that unreservedly value difference and civility.

I used the “golden rule” in my post because it is provides one of the clearest, most familiar ways to assess our own actions.  As Rod points out in his comment it also should also embolden us, as individuals, to speak out “when we see the rule being broken, bent, or twisted.”

Pam Benoit

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One of Our Hallmarks

22 Oct

Bruce Carlson, Chair of Psychology,  sent me this photograph from the recent Undergraduate Fieldwork and Research Fair.  He noted that 13 community organizations and 17 faculty labs were represented at the fair.  About 250 students attended the fair.

The Psychology Fair is indicative of one of the important characteristics of Ohio University.  Our faculty and staff take student research and creative activity seriously.  They provide abundant opportunities for both our undergraduates and our graduate students to engage in meaningful scholarly and artistic endeavors.  Developing a way of exploring an issue, implementing your approach to that issue, and analyzing the results  in conjunction with an individual who is an expert in a particular field is higher education at its finest.  It happens every day on all of our campuses.

Homecoming

15 Oct

Dear Ohio University Students:

The Athens campus is filling up with alumni who have come to pay their respects to their Alma Mater.  Their fondness for this place is humbling.  I’ve been at other institutions and have seen the deep sense of pride that exists among graduates but it is nothing quite like what I’ve seen at Ohio University.  I can go down the checklist that explains why this might be the case : great faculty, interesting classmates, friendly atmosphere, beautiful place.  But there’s something else.

I recently read a short poem by William Allingham that I’ve thought about in association with Homecoming: “Everything passes and vanishes;/ Everything leaves its trace;/ And often you see in a footstep/What you could not see in a face.”  In 206 years there have been a lot of footsteps on this campus.  Maybe they exert a force that can be detected by poets  but not yet by conventional scientific means.  At any rate, your footsteps are now part of this place–contributing to its energy and vitality.

I hope that you enjoy the Homecoming festivities.  There’s certainly much to celebrate on these beautiful autumn days.

Pam Benoit

New OHIO TV Spots

26 Sep

University Communications and Marketing (UCM) unveiled a new series of television advertisements last week entitled “The Promise Lives.”  The advertisements are part of a larger ongoing academic marketing campaign.  If you haven’t had a chance to see them be sure to take a look.  Three students or recent graduates are profiled (Dinah Berkeley, Ryan Henriksen, Jasmine Merith) and one alumna who is now a faculty member in the Voinovich School, Natalie Kruse.

There are two things in particular that make these spots special.  The first is the genuineness of the people being profiled.  They are clearly accomplished individuals who come across in a winning way.  Capturing this in 30 seconds is not easy.  The second is that the crew that worked with David Urano, UCM Manager of Video and Production Services, was mostly composed of students and/or graduates of the School of Media Arts and Studies, the School of Theater, and Honors Tutorial College programs in Film and Media Arts and Studies.  The finished product exhibits a degree of professionalism and skill second to none.

Thanks to UCM and the crew of the “The Promise Lives” for your excellent work.  Thanks also to Dinah, Ryan, Jasmine, and Natalie.  Everyone who worked on this project is a testament to the power of Ohio University as a transformative learning community.