THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2017
Duane Nellis After a nearly yearlong nationwide search, Duane Nellis took office as Ohio Universityâ€™s 21st president on June 12. Now, Nellis reflects on his past and shares hopes for the future.
Nellis in college P10
A sit-down with the president P12
Nellisâ€™ previous employment P20
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ELIZABETH BACKO MANAGING EDITOR Kaitlin Coward DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR Hayley Harding SENIOR EDITOR Marisa Fernandez
NEWS EDITORS Maddie Capron, Bailey Gallion SPORTS EDITOR Andrew Gillis CULTURE EDITORS Georgia Davis, Mae Yen Yap OPINION EDITOR Chuck Greenlee COPY CHIEF Alex McCann
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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
Special editions offer chances to collaborate s you scan through this week’s paper, you will notice a certain theme. Post staffers have been planning for a few months to make our first special edition of the 2017-18 academic year all about Ohio University’s new president, Duane Nellis. Though Nellis officially started his term as president on June 12, and The Post provided coverage of his first day and his speech at the Class of 2021 Convocation in August, we decided an entire edition dedicated to Nellis’ plans as president and who he is as a person would be a great way to begin the academic year. Throughout the past couple of months, The Post staff had the opportunity to talk with Nellis, ask ELIZABETH BACKO questions and learn more about his EDITOR-IN-CHIEF past and his plans for the future. We asked him about his college days, his off-campus housing and how he will make himself available to students. To add more context, one reporter interviewed former interim OU President David Descutner, who now serves as interim executive vice president and provost, to talk about his new role helping Nellis. And just because we are putting out a special issue now does not mean our coverage of President Nellis and his administration will slow down anytime soon. Creating a special edition is an exciting time for Post staffers. It gives the different sections within The Post a chance to work closely together and learn from one another. Special editions are not a new concept at The Post. Every year, staffers start making plans weeks and months ahead of time so The Post can produce themed packages, like last year’s edition dedicated to the opioid epidemic and another edition that included 11 articles about different elements that make Athens wonderful. As usual, we’ll put out a Homecoming edition later this semester, and we have a few other ideas in the works for the rest of the academic year. If you are a student and feel as passionate about telling stories as we do, drop by our newsroom in Baker 325 and talk to us about joining The Post. If you are a reader and feel strongly about special editions or topics that The Post could be covering more in-depth, send me an email and we can get a conversation started. Elizabeth Backo is a senior studying journalism and the editor-in-chief of The Post. Want to talk to her? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or send her a tweet @liz_backo.
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The pointless melodrama of Twitter “Terrible night,” the tweet said, accompanied by a disappointed emoji and zero likes. The tweet, which took me nearly a half second to read — and another half second to scroll past — was significant only in that it was the fourth tweet of its kind that I had seen in 10 minutes. Originally, this column was going to be a rant against subtweeting, until I realized the entire column would essentially be a massive subtweet. Instead, I’m taking aim at the weird melodramatic tweets that fill everyone’s timeline — because everyone tweets them. Those tweets, melodramatic, sad and vague, are like cockroaches: For every one that is scrolled past, two more appear in its place. They are so common, so liked and so universally annoying that I couldn’t help but write an equally annoying column about them.
Let me be very clear: The only things people on Twitter care about are funny tweets and dogs. No one cares about the other vague, depressing posts clouding their feed. Arguably the worst part about these tweets is they put every single person who reads them in an awkward position. “Terrible night.” Do I like it? Do I ignore it? Do I reply to it and say how annoying it is? Suddenly I’m wrenched away from a stream of news and jokes and into a limbo of awkward social media decisions. The tweets usually fall into two categories: sad and straightforward or dramatic and sarcastic. “I love feeling (insert something the user doesn't love feeling here).” “I can’t deal with (some other negative thing).”
"Smh." That's the whole tweet. “Blah blah blah.” It’s like watching people shout their complaints at the night sky. They’re getting it off their chest, but they aren’t really shouting it at anyone who cares. I promise that reaching out to a human who will actually listen, rather than a human who will scroll past your tweet, will help you more than screaming into the void.
Bennett Leckrone is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to stress out Bennett? Tweet him melodramatic things @LeckroneBennett.
WORDS I MIGHT HAVE ATE
Don’t hate Father John Misty Joshua Tillman — better known by his stage name, Father John Misty — is a man the music world loves to hate and hates to love. But after three albums, with a fourth on the way, it’s obvious that he isn’t going away any time soon. Both consumers and fellow musicians find him obnoxious in both his lyrics and personality. His overly cynical new album, Pure Comedy, uses an apocalyptic theme to convey his dissatisfaction with the world at large. I agree that some of the songs are pretentious, and many listeners’ opinions are valid. He is attempting to be outside of the realm of general political views by commenting on the wrongdoings of both sides on “Two Wildly Different Perspectives” — and frankly, it doesn’t work. It comes across as the bare-minimum analysis of the American political system. Tillman was raised in an extremely conservative Christian family. He had to convince his parents that Bob Dylan wasn’t a secular artist to be able to listen to him. He later turned against religion, describing both his religious education and upbringing as “culturally oppressive,” in an interview. Although his ideas on religion could seem tedious, his opinions are based off firsthand experiences. The music media seem to switch up the rhetoric of his music, with The Atlantic calling Pure Comedy a “te4 / SEPT. 7, 2017
dious brochure for nihilism, rescued only by a few flirtations with grace.” Father John Misty seems to disregard the modern notion that pretentiousness is a sign of being unrelatable. Producer and musician Ryan Adams, in a since-deleted tweet, called Tillman “the most self-important asshole on earth.” Adams later apologized. Adams is not necessarily wrong by saying this — Father John Misty does not need a reminder that he is “self-important.” In fact, Tillman’s pretentiousness is what makes him interesting. Pretentiousness on people who are not pretentious on purpose gives them a sense of being unrelatable. Father John Misty understands his audience is not only those who want music, but those who like the personality of the artist as well. If his persona didn’t work, he wouldn’t do it. He is embracing the culture of loud personalities to create a bigger version of himself that grabs attention. Half of his success is his pretentious personality. No one stopped listening to him when he cut a festival appearance short, citing the stupidity of people as the reason. When he went by the name J. Tillman, he had eight under-the-radar albums released by a wide variety of labels. None of his albums received critical acclamation
until he reportedly woke up in a tree, naked, with the name “Father John Misty” floating around in his brain. People hate Father John Misty because he is so loud, but when he wasn’t so loud, he wasn’t successful. Tillman has created the version of himself that works in the public. Father John Misty represents the version of Joshua Tillman that works in the indie realm. Father John Misty’s personality somewhat clouds the fact that his music is excellent. Consumers often forget that even someone with a terrible personality can make fantastic music. Although I wouldn’t disagree that he has a flamboyant personality, it works for him. If the music is good, the personality behind it should be arbitrary.
Shelby Campbell is a freshman studying journalism and political science at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you find Father John Misty to overly pretentious, highly talented — or both? Let Shelby know by tweeting her @bloodbuzzohioan.
Why ‘The Post’ decided to create
the Nellis Edition
hen something influential happens on Ohio University’s campus or in Athens, The Post is there to cover it. Whether it’s a protest or national elections, we’re there to explain what’s happening and how it will affect you as students, faculty, staff and Athens residents. That’s why The Post has dedicated an edition of our weekly tabloid to new OU President Duane Nellis as he navigates the first few months of his administration. We appreciate Nellis’ willingness to work with reporters for this edition. In talking with The Post, he provided great
insight into his goals and policies. We think others should be aware of those as well, which is why we’re excited to share the Nellis Edition with you. OU President Roderick McDavis began his tenure in 2004 by giving one of his first interviews to The Post, and in February — during his last week on campus — he gave one of his last. For many of us at The Post, McDavis’ exit interview story was one of our favorites of last year. During the past few years, we didn’t get the chance to talk to McDavis as much as we would have liked. More open communication would have been an excellent experience for both our reporters and readers alike.
This year, and in the coming years, we hope President Nellis will commit to transparency in his administration. The best way to accurately, fairly and fully cover the university — and the people it serves — is through access to the president and university officials as a whole. As a result, we hope President Nellis will work to develop a strong relationship with local media outlets, including The Post. We also hope that President Nellis will be visible and available to students, faculty and staff on campus. It’s crucial for those groups to be able to see, talk to and voice complaints to the president, and we appreciate that Nellis has been out talking to students and interacting
with different people throughout campus and the city. Welcome to OU, President Nellis. We hope you do great things during your time here, and we hope to look back on your administration and say the university is better for it. Whatever happens, The Post will be there to cover it. Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post’s executive editors: editor-in-chief Elizabeth Backo, managing editor Kaitlin Coward, digital managing editor Hayley Harding and senior editor Marisa Fernandez. Post editorials are independent of the publication’s news coverage.
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New Marshfield thief reportedly steals everything but the kitchen sink BAILEY GALLION NEWS EDITOR hile Ohio University students enjoyed the long weekend, Ohio University Police Department officers cranked out nearly 30 marijuana citations. Officers with the OUPD cited 27 people with possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia during Labor Day weekend. Another person was arrested for felony drug possession. Officers also wrote two citations for underage drinking and one for public intoxication over the weekend. A banner at Bromley Hall was reported missing Friday, and, on Sunday, light fixtures in a Sargent Hall stairwell were reported broken. KITCHEN KLEPTOMANIA Saturday in New Marshfield, a woman reported to the Athens County Sheriff’s Office that wide range of items were missing from her home. She reported three metal cabinets, the kitchen stove, the gas heater, the water heater, the washer and dryer and a 100-gallon gas tank missing. Both her refrigerator and her minifridge were also missing from her home, along with the porch swing and
“all of the copper piping,” according to the report. The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information on the incident to call the department’s non-emergency line at 740-593-6633. MCDRUNK McDonald’s employees on at the Richland Avenue location stopped a sheriff’s deputy Saturday. They told the deputy an intoxicated man was trying to get into someone else’s vehicle in the McDonald’s parking lot. The man was sitting in his own vehicle when the deputy entered the parking lot, according to a sheriff’s office report. An Athens Police Department officer arrived and arrested him for public intoxication. BELOW THE LAW Members of the Athens County Interdiction Unit saw a man wanted on three active warrants outside a Chauncey residence, according to a sheriff’s report. As officers worked to confirm the warrants, the wanted man fled. He was found hiding under the residence and taken to Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.
An Ohio University police car sits outside Scott Quad. (JOSHUA LIM / FILE)
Hocking College to test medical marijuana, cannabis lab technology major; Trump announces DACA end MADDIE CAPRON NEWS EDITOR he second week of the semester came and went quickly after a three-day weekend. Some of the biggest headlines this week included the Trump administration’s end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program 6 / SEPT. 7, 2017
and Hocking College’s announcement of its plans to test medical marijuana. Here’s a look back at the top stories of the week: HOCKING COLLEGE TO BEGIN TESTING MEDICAL MARIJUANA Hocking College announced its plans Tuesday afternoon to become licensed to test medical marijuana. The college will also launch a new laboratory sci-
ences program next fall and will offer cannabis lab technology as a major. Betty Young, the college’s president, said the program will be the first of its kind in the country. “The research and academic potential of serving as the lab testing site will support the kind of hands-on, hightech training that is the hallmark of Hocking College,” Young said in a news release Tuesday.
PRESIDENT TRUMP ANNOUNCES END OF DACA, GIVES CONGRESS 6 MONTHS TO ACT President Donald Trump’s administration announced Tuesday that it will be ending DACA, a program that protects young, undocumented immigrants. Ohio University President Duane Nellis made a statement just hours after the announcement, saying he thinks the end of DACA “threatens to undermine Ohio
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594-9098 www.ourentals.com “Tomorrow I will go to Capitol Hill to advocate for all our students and urge our Congressional representatives, faceto-face, to take action to protect the DREAMers immediately.” -President Duane Nellis
University’s commitment to fair treatment and inclusivity for all of our students.” He plans to take action by meeting with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. “Tomorrow I will go to Capitol Hill to advocate for all our students and urge our Congressional representatives, faceto-face, to take action to protect the DREAMers immediately,” he said in the Tuesday release. “We will continue to monitor these national discussions and will keep the University community informed of important developments as they unfold.”
OU Spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said the university believes the number of undocumented students at OU is “relatively low.” ATHENS WOMEN’S RECOVERY CENTER SET TO OPEN IN JANUARY Athens’ first women’s recovery center will open at the beginning of 2018 after a longtime effort by local women in addiction recovery. Jayne Darling, the president of the Women in Recovery Board, said as a woman recovering from addiction, she recognized the need for transitional housing. In Athens, there is no transitional housing specifically for women, and they face different challenges than men. “Most of them have children and have lost their children to (Athens County) Children Services,” Darling said. “Most of the fathers are not in the picture. … (The women) have a battle in front of them to try to get their kids back, which is something men don’t have. … It’s a little bit tougher for women.” After a year and a half of work, the center’s goal is to open by Jan. 1.
@MADDIECAPRON MC055914@OHIO.EDU THEPOSTATHENS.COM / 7
8 / SEPT. 7, 2017
Ohio University’s 21st president, Duane Nellis, wears an “OHIO” pin June 12, his first day as president. (MEAGAN HALL / FILE)
An introduction to Nellis s the academic year begins, The Post has compiled an edition exploring the many dimensions of Ohio University’s 21st president. From ruminations on his own college days to how he wants to build relationships at OU, the edition follows Nellis through the years, detailing his reflections on the road to office and looking into his plans for the university’s future.
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The college years President Duane Nellis loved concerts, met his wife while studying at Montana State University MADDIE CAPRON NEWS EDITOR hen Duane Nellis was a student at Montana State University, he could be found at concerts, seeing bands like the Doobie Brothers and the Beach Boys. He majored in earth science and geography, and he loved to ski. Having grown up in a small town in northwest Montana, Nellis said going to college was especially exciting. Being on campus opened up Nellis’ world, introducing him to people and perspectives he had never heard before. “Going to college, it was just an amazing experience,” Nellis said. “It was like a whole new visioning for me as far as the world and the connections in the world and the opportunities that were presented through the university experience.” Nellis also met his wife, Ruthie, in college. They had mutual friends, started to get to know each other and ended up in a class together. “We happened to be in the same anthropology class together at the end of freshman year,” he said. “So we started sitting next to each other and started getting to know each other, and it was great.” Nellis said Ruthie became his best friend. She is from Pennsylvania and “had gone west to Montana.” “(College is) where I met my wife, and so that’s my favorite memory,” Nellis said. “It was really special to get to know her.” The couple loved going to concerts together, and they would go on skiing trips nearby. “Being in Bozeman there was skiing very close by — downhill skiing, snow skiing,” he said. “Ruthie and I actually did (go) snow skiing very regularly, so that was a lot of fun as well.” Nellis loved spending time with his friends and taking part in college traditions. “We used to just be with friends going out and having pizza,” he said. “It was just fun to socialize with people from all over the place.” Aside from Ruthie, Nellis thinks all of his 10 / SEPT. 7, 2017
After receiving his official Bobcat ID, Nellis laughs as he realizes he has his own PID number. Nellis’ first day was June 12. (MEAGAN HALL / FILE)
closest friends would say he was fun to be around, while remaining very serious about academics. In high school, he would get good grades without having to try hard. In college, however, he had to teach himself how to successfully learn and study. “That was exciting for me because I was challenged in new ways,” Nellis said. “Coming from a small town and going to college, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be more high school or just advanced high school. Once I figured that out as a freshman, it really clicked.” Nellis said getting involved on campus in all different aspects of college life helped him find his place during that time. “When you’re a student, you come in and you don’t realize all the speakers (and) all the different student organizations,” he said. “There’s just so many things to do, and you don’t always take full advantage of that, but I wished I would’ve known more about
“College was just an amazing experience. It was like a whole new visioning for me as far as the world and the connections in the world and the opportunities that were presented through the university experience.” - OU President Duane Nellis that up front.” Much like students today, Nellis was on campus during a politically charged time. While he was an undergraduate student, the Vietnam War was in full swing and Watergate was on everyone’s minds. He said those events created a lot of tension on campus, and students were active across the country. “It was a time of a lot of unrest and uncertainty with Vietnam, and it was also a time when Watergate was going on,” he said.
“It was occurring at that time where they were drafting people to go into the military. Those things all had an impact for sure as I started my college experience.” Despite any challenges Nellis may have faced during his college years, he is happy to have taken on a career in higher education. “I’m humbled and honored to be at Ohio University for sure,” he said. “It’s been really fun.”
Senate leaders, faculty pleased with start of Nellis’ time in office SARAH M. PENIX FOR THE POST hio University President Duane Nellis has already made an impression on faculty members, who say he is increasing communication between faculty and his office. Prior to coming to OU, President Nellis served as president of the University of Idaho and Texas Tech University, where he improved the schools’ enrollment numbers and support for faculty and student endeavors. “Dr. Nellis is really committed to being as in touch as he possibly can with this community to take a look at what is done every day,” Faculty Senate Vice Chair David Thomas said. “I’ll be walking with him through a building … and he takes off into the kitchen to meet all of the kitchen help.” Thomas called Nellis a “real academic,” meaning that he is not only well-qualified, but also addresses real issues of concern to the administration. During his previous presidential terms, Nellis has been involved with faculty and students through being in the classroom and co-editing an international journal in satellite remote sensing, his specialty area. “I love students, and I love interacting with my faculty colleagues. True, I am an administrator in my role as President, but first, I am an academic. I hope that this mindset will set the tone of what I hope will be the future (at OU),” Nellis said in an email. Since taking office June 12, Nellis has reached out to senate leaders, faculty, staff and students individually. During the search for an interim provost and vice president, Nellis personally called the chairs of senates to ask about who they thought would best fill that position. Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said Nellis has been “excellent” at communicating with faculty. “He’s just been very inclusive, and I keep talking to faculty who are talking about, ‘Guess who came to our event?’ or, ‘Guess who showed up in our department?’ ” McLaughlin said. “He’s just out and about, and he seems to be
enjoying himself.” Senate leaders feel that Nellis is interested in regular meetings because he wants to have a good working relationship with all five senates. Nellis was similarly involved at Texas Tech. “(Nellis) wanted to make sure that (Texas Tech University) students and faculty knew he was involved,” Texas Tech spokesman Chris Cook said. “And I don’t mean involved by overreaching, but that he was going to be seen, he was going to be present at their events. ... He wanted them to know that he was accessible to everyone.” Nellis has demonstrated that involvement at OU through communication with university constituents and public forums, which are scheduled for Fall Semester. Those forums aim to help students, faculty and staff engage with the new administration.
“Dr. Nellis is really committed to being as in touch as he possibly can with this community to take a look at what is done every day.” -David Thomas, Faculty Senate Vice Chair Nellis said he looks forward to listening and learning about the main campus in order to better represent and “be a champion” for OU. “I have communicated by email to several faculty members who have offered me well wishes,” Nellis said in an email. “Several faculty members have approached me on campus to introduce themselves and others have stopped by the Office to say ‘hello.’ I enjoy these interactions very much and hope to meet more of our talented faculty at the college forums that will be held later this fall.”
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The Nellis Interview
“The capstone of my career” Settling into his third university presidency, Duane Nellis has found a home in Athens. He still has much to learn — something he’ll admit — and he plans to start by listening. LAUREN FISHER
OU President Duane Nellis laughs during a July 19 interview. (MEAGAN HALL / FILE)
12 / SEPT. 7, 2017
/ ASST. NEWS EDITOR
f Roderick McDavis left Ohio University like a time-weathered senior, then Duane Nellis has leapt onto the scene as an enthusiastic freshman, eager to impress. Don’t mistake his zealousness as naivete, though. He is a veteran of university presidencies and a self-professed lifelong learner with the credentials to show it. On a sunny July afternoon, College Green hummed with a lazy lull of summer activity. Inside Cutler Hall, however, the atmosphere was electric. OU first lady Ruthie Nellis strolled in and out of the office and offered a warm “hello” to those in the lobby. Outside, construction crews chipped away at the brick pathway, setting the stage for the year to come. The bookshelves lining the president’s office — left bare just months ago as McDavis neared his final days in office — were once again filled to the brim. On one ledge sat a framed photo of Nellis with Gloria Steinem, the two beaming over dinner at the University of Idaho. On another was a copy of They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement, the best-selling book by Wesley Lowery, the former editor-in-chief of The Post who attended OU from 2008-2012. The room itself gleamed, and in its center, OU President Duane Nellis, 63, settled into his seat at the table, a much-needed cup of coffee close at hand. His schedule of events had been nonstop — that afternoon, he was off to Columbus. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. But to Nellis, it’s all part of the fun. “I have a lot of passion and energy,” he said. “I believe strongly in higher education. I have a commitment to lifelong learning, so these experiences every day I feel like I’m learning more about not only the campus, but the community. So it’s energizing to me.” The move to OU is another fresh start — a new office, a brand new house and an abundance of new names to put to faces. “I’m just glad to be at a great place like Ohio University,” Nellis said. “This is terrific. And this is where I really want to be for the capstone of my career.” THE ROAD TO THE PRESIDENCY In January, Nellis first made headlines in Athens when the four finalists in the university’s search for a successor to now-former OU President McDavis were announced. McDavis, who announced in March 2016 that he would be stepping down, accepted a position with a higher education search firm in December. The former president of Texas Tech University and the University of Idaho, Nellis fielded an array of questions during his Jan-
know it was possible at the time — was to stay at school in some capacity. He went on to graduate work at Oregon State University, realizing early on that, “in a perfect world,” he wanted not only to teach, but also to lead. By the time he was 25, he had secured his doctoral degree. By 32, he was a department head. “Then (I was) a dean, and then a provost, and then a university president,” Nellis said. “But I never imagined at that time that that would be part of it. Because I just loved, and I still love, the dimensions of what it means to be a faculty member, and being at a university.” And at the heart of it all, Nellis still sees himself as just that — a member of the faculty, enchanted by the everyday occurrences of university life. OU President Duane Nellis greets a family on campus on June 12, his first day in office. (MEAGAN HALL / FILE)
“When I met (Nellis) at the open forum when he was one of the four candidates who came to campus, I liked him and his wife, Ruthie, immediately. I liked him because I think he’s exactly what Ohio University needs right now.” -David Descutner, former OU interim president
uary public forum, receiving positive feedback for his comments citing diversity and inclusion as indicators that “define the success” of a major public university. Then the unexpected happened. North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani withdrew his name from the search. Pam Benoit, who was then OU’s executive vice president and provost, followed suit the next day, followed by former University of New Mexico President Robert Frank. Within the span of three days, Nellis found himself the sole candidate in the running, poised to inherit a university in the midst of political unrest. Days before the other candidates withdrew, 70 students were arrested during a Baker Center demonstration in which they asked McDavis to declare OU a sanctuary campus. The demonstration came before McDavis’ final days, prompting university officials to cancel a planned farewell event
and paving the way for his quiet exit. Less than a month passed before Nellis was officially named president of OU — the torch was passed his way by then-interim OU President David Descutner, whom Nellis met during his first visit to campus. “When I met him at the open forum when he was one of the four candidates who came to campus, I liked him and his wife, Ruthie, immediately,” Descutner said of Nellis. “I liked him because I think he’s exactly what Ohio University needs right now.” ROOTED IN A SMALL TOWN Nellis is no stranger to the rhythm and pace of small-town life. Although born in Spokane, Washington, his roots lie in a town with a population of 3,000. After graduating from a high school class of 180, he packed his bags and headed for Montana State University, where, as he describes it, it was as if “a lightbulb went off.” A natural when it came to math and science, Nellis began his college career as an engineering major, only to later shift his focus to geography. The field would later bring him global opportunities, from research in the Kalahari Desert to contributions to a book published in Japanese. “Geography is a discipline that allows you the spectrum,” Nellis explained. “There’s cultural geography all the way through physical geography, and in between ... you have an opportunity to really learn about the world. And that excitement was really important to me.” It was also during his time at Montana State that he met fellow geography major Carolyn Ruth, affectionately known as Ruthie. By the time senior year rolled around, the two were already happily married, and Nellis was looking for his next step. His dream — and he’ll admit he didn’t
FINDING A HOME IN ATHENS Sometimes, Nellis has learned, the key to being an effective leader is found beyond the hours spent in the office. His Twitter account is a hodgepodge of memories made on campus: greeting students on the first day of classes, sharing meals in the dining halls and chatting with players during football practice. “I knew firsthand that I had to understand and discover ... what it means to be a member of the Bobcat Family,” he told firstyear students during convocation. “I had to learn my way around campus. Find the best route from work to Bentley (Hall). Figure out which dining halls were the best.” It wasn’t long after settling in that he was helping first-year students lug boxes into dorm rooms. As he stood onstage at convocation — presidential robes and all — Nellis looked to the crowd of freshmen and offered them a few words of appreciation, and perhaps, sympathy. “You’re very special to me,” he told them. “You’re my inaugural class. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.” For now, Nellis said his plan is to listen. Like any freshman, he has a lot to learn. Athens is still a maze of brick roads and one way streets. The quirks of this town, and of this school, take time to sink in. His five-minute drive to the office will soon become clockwork. He’ll learn the fight song by heart and find his go-to order at Casa Nueva, and the newness of the presidency will fade. His journey to Athens has been a decades-long odyssey across the country, but will this college town ever truly feel like home? “Oh, very much,” he said. He paused, then smiled. “Actually, it feels a lot that way right now.”
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Nellis’ salary, allowances reflect officials’ confidence in his ability to lead university JEREMY HILL SENIOR WRITER hio University’s newest president will make more money in his first year than many Athens County families will make in the next 10. At $475,000, President Duane Nellis’ base salary dwarfs the $34,000 median household income in Athens County in 2015. His housing and vehicle stipends alone add up to $72,000 a year. But that compensation package is in line with national trends, one university official said. “The terms of Dr. Nellis’ contract, including the housing allowance, reflect national trends in higher education executive compensation,” OU Board of Trustees Chair Janetta King told The Post in a written statement. “President Nellis’ compensation affirms the high degree of confidence the Board has in him to lead the institution into its third century.” Matching numbers to those national trends is difficult. It is true that among public university presidents, Nellis’ compensation package is not unusually large. Data from the Chronicle of Higher Education show many university presidents make more than double what Nellis will — Ohio State’s Michael Drake’s base pay was $813,000 in 2016. Former OU President Roderick McDavis ended his career at OU earning a salary of $500,000. “The Ohio University Board of Trustees unanimously selected Dr. Nellis to serve as the University’s 21st President because of his proven history in higher education leadership, having served twice previously as a university President in addition to many other high-level roles,” King said. IT’S COMPLICATED Whether public university presidents are generally overpaid is a complex issue, said Barmak Nassirian, director of Federal Relations and Policy Analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “It’s an interesting issue, and it’s complicated, and it doesn’t have the kind of easy answers that either side would propose,” Nassirian said. Nassirian said on one hand, universities operate in a marketplace, so it is true that to attract top talent, their pay scales must keep up with one another. 14 / SEPT. 7, 2017
The salary and stipends of each president in his first year. McDavis’ numbers were adjusted for inflation. Illustration by Marcus Pavilonis
On the other hand, he said, there are some legitimate gripes with executive compensation at public schools — some public university presidents pull in more than $1 million annually. “I don’t see it much as a problem, but that’s because — when I look at the pay of athletic coaches — Nellis is not even the highest paid person at the university” Zachary Woods, treasurer of OU Student Senate, said, referencing Nellis’ compensation. Saul Phillips, the head men’s basketball coach at OU, is set to receive a salary of $572,520 this year. Nellis is the third-highest paid OU employee behind Phillips and Frank Solich, OU’s head football coach. Woods said it is important to look not just at the president’s salary, but also to consider the return on investment his employment will bring. He said it is too early to judge Nellis by his paycheck. “I think him and Mrs. Nellis will be bringing back a great investment,” Woods said. “But right now, it’s just waiting to see if that pay is justified.” Nassirian said pay raises for faculty across the country have grown more slowly than those for university executives. “There has to be some serious balance,” Nassirian said. But he emphasized that “the problems of no university can be solved by adjusting one person’s salary.”
“The terms of Dr. Nellis’ contract, including the housing allowance, reflect national trends in higher education executive compensation. President Nellis’ compensation affirms the high degree of confidence the Board has in him to lead the institution into its third century.” -Janetta King, OU Board of Trustees chair
THE STIPENDS Nellis is set to receive a stipend of $5,000 per month to spend on housing. The only restriction is that he must live in Athens County. That works out to an allowance of $60,000 per year, or nearly five times the cost of in-state tuition at OU for the 2017-18 academic year. McDavis’ contracts did not contain that allowance. For most of his tenure, the school’s chief executive lived on campus in a university-owned home at 29 Park Place, near Baker Center. That changed in 2015 when a bat infestation led McDavis and his wife to vacate the house. It was a controversial move that sparked protests and brought national media attention to OU.
The bat problem did not entirely drive that decision, though, the university had been exploring moving the president off campus in years prior, according to a previous Post report. Plus, the university set aside more than $125,000 per year to cover costs of operating the property. Nellis’ $1,000-per-month vehicle stipend is equal to the one McDavis received from 2012 to 2017, per the contracts. The $35,000 salary his wife, Ruthie, is set to receive is slightly greater than the $30,000 McDavis’ wife, Deborah, was paid from 2012 to 2017.
University alters housing policy with Nellis presidency ALEX MEYER FOR THE POST he start of Duane Nellis’ presidency on June 12 came alongside the end of university-provided housing for Ohio University’s presidents amid a state investigation into the matter. Nellis and his wife, Ruthie, live about 2 miles south of OU’s Athens campus at 36 Warren Road in a home they purchased for $650,000 in late May. Per his contract, the university provides Nellis a $5,000 monthly housing allowance and requires that he live in Athens County. OU’s Board of Trustees decided to use a monthly stipend rather than “offer the benefit of a house with an unknown cost” before Nellis was hired, OU Spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said. The housing allowance is a shift from the university’s previous policies toward housing its presidents. Until two years ago, presidents had lived near the center of campus at 29 Park Place since 1952, according to OU’s website. In 2015, OU decided to move former OU President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Deborah, from 29 Park Place to an off-campus house at 31 Coventry Lane through a $1.2 million lease-purchase agreement. The university later announced it would only lease the home due to a “problematic” verbal agreement its owner made with OU Director of Athletics Jim Schaus, according to a previous Post report. The lease for that house ended June 30, Leatherwood said. OU is still being investigated by the Ohio Office of the Inspector General for matters related to presidential housing as part of an investigation that started in 2015, according to another Post report. Nellis’ house purchase in May included three parcels of land of 9 total acres, according to the Athens County auditor’s website. Additionally, his contract states that the house may be used for “university-related business and entertainment” and states that the university will cover the costs of such events. “The terms of Dr. Nellis’ contract, in-
“The two most traditional perks (for university presidents) historically are a car and housing.” -James Finkelstein, professor emeritus at George Mason
cluding the housing allowance, reflect national trends in higher education executive compensation,” Board of Trustees Chair Janetta King said in an email. “President Nellis’ compensation affirms the high degree of confidence the Board has in him to lead the institution into its third century.” Research shows, however, that allowances are less common nationally, according to a study conducted by James Finkelstein and Judith Wilde of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, that analyzed presidential contracts at 115 public universities. “The two most traditional perks historically are a car and housing,” Finkelstein, professor emeritus of public policy at George Mason, said about university presidents. “We’ve looked at all kinds of perks. Those have been around for decades.” About 72 percent of the institutions studied required university-provided housing for presidents, and only 17 percent of them specifically listed a housing allowance for presidents to live off campus, said Wilde, chief operating officer of the university’s Schar School of Policy and Government. OU’s housing allowance of $60,000 a year is above average, Finkelstein said. The housing allowances the two studied varied from $18,000 to $72,000 with an average of about $42,500. “I’ve been at a couple universities when that shift was made,” Wilde said of moving to off-campus presidential housing. “In those cases, it was due to other family matters … or it was because the on-campus housing had gotten old enough that it needed major renovations.”
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@ALXMEYER AM095013@OHIO.EDU THEPOSTATHENS.COM / 15
Interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Descutner gives an interview in Cutler Hall on Aug. 30.
Right-hand man After a year of retirement, David Descutner stepped up as OU’s interim president. Now, as interim executive vice president and provost, he is President Nellis’ second-in-command. LAUREN FISHER
/ ASST. NEWS EDITOR
PHOTOS BY MATT STARKEY 16 / SEPT. 7, 2017
hen David Descutner and his wife, DeLysa Burnier, drove across the Hocking River into Athens on a Saturday night in 1979, they did so in a borrowed car with no plans to stay long. In fact, Descutner admits, he “wasn’t all that crazy” about the town in the first place. But Burnier had a doctoral degree to complete, and Descutner was taking a job as an assistant professor in the meantime. Nearly 40 years have passed, and Descutner now holds one of Ohio University’s top positions: interim executive vice president and provost. The town that he once showed indifference to has since become his home. “I like the local culture here,” Descutner said. “The sense of art and history, community involvement, politics … there’s a lot of people who live here who aren’t associated with the university who are some of the coolest, most interesting people I’ve ever met, and that, of course, makes life here easy to live.” Before his appointment as dean of University College in 2003, Descutner served in various capacities in the School of Interpersonal Communication — known today as the School of Communication Studies — working his way up the ladder from instructor to interim director. After a brief period of retirement, Descutner was made interim chair of social medicine for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine by the school’s dean, Kenneth Johnson. It was during that time when former OU President Roderick McDavis announced his impending departure, leading the Board of Trustees to offer Descutner a new position: interim president of the university. “It was a complete shock to me,” Descutner said. “And I would not have considered doing it had I not been at the college of medicine for a year.” Descutner served as interim president from February to June, laying the foundation for the transition between McDavis and Duane Nellis, who was announced as the university’s new president in February and took office June 12. His short time in office, however, was not without tough decisions. His support of the charges brought against 70 demonstrators arrested in Baker Center clashed with the wishes of university senates, who passed resolutions demanding the charges be dropped. When OU professor Andrew Escobedo was found to have sexually harassed several female students, it was up to Descutner to initiate the dismissal process. Despite these challenges, Descutner views his time in higher education as a
cally and across state lines. Local involvement with organizations like the Athens Foundation and United Campus Ministries has supplemented their financial contributions at OU, the University of Illinois and Descutner’s alma mater, Slippery Rock. The couple has an especially deep connection to The Gathering Place, a local drop-in center devoted to caring for adults struggling with mental illness. “We got to know, over the years, the men and women who were there,” Descutner said. “And it was a good example of profound care and encouraging people who are suffering all sorts of difficulties to participate in the world, to work, and more importantly, to be a citizen. So that was very cool. That was sort of my first exposure to that kind of community work.”
“David Descutner has provided invaluable service to Ohio University for nearly four decades, most recently in his role as interim president. He has been a tremendous asset to me. ... It only makes sense to continue working closely with David as I continue to transition into my new role.” -OU President Duane Nellis privilege that has provided him with “limitless opportunities.” “I think the absence of distance between everyday life and university leadership is one of the things that makes this more of a community and less of a university,” he said. “And I think it’s a high quality university.” A FIRST-GENERATION STUDENT Descutner’s own college days, he’ll readily admit, were anything but smooth sailing. “Well, I’ll start by saying I’m glad there weren’t camera phones,” he said with a laugh. “I had a very rough time. I was a first-generation student. I was a baby of five ... but I was not planning on going to college. Nobody I knew was going to college.” Born in the small coal mining town of Crucible, Pennsylvania — population 725 as of the 2010 U.S. census — Descutner’s early prospects for higher education were lackluster at best. His father was a high school graduate, while his mother stopped her education after the eighth grade. A talent for tennis and a lucky break with a coach sent him down the path to college. With his parents’ encouragement and a small loan in hand, Descutner set out for Slippery Rock University in west-
ern Pennsylvania. “And I did all the wrong things,” he said. “I didn’t go to class. I didn’t meet my professors. … I was a little thug.” After a “horrible” first semester yielded a 2.3 GPA and a bad rap with authority, his professors brought him back from the brink, introducing him to the prospect of grad school and convincing him to join the university’s debate team, despite his notion that it was “totally uncool.” The difficulties he faced during his own college career have created a special place in Descutner’s heart for first-generation students. “One-third of our students are first-generation on this campus,” Descutner said. “First-generation students struggle more than other students do … so that has really created an endless well of empathy for me when it comes students who are struggling. It’s not because they can’t do it. It’s because they haven’t figured out how it is they can do it.” Providing aid to those in need has been a personal mission for both Descutner and Burnier, who are involved in numerous charitable and scholarship foundations, both lo-
THE ROAD AHEAD When Descutner was named interim executive vice president and provost to replace Pam Benoit — who accepted a job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in May — Nellis had only kind words for his second-in-command. “David Descutner has provided invaluable service to Ohio University for nearly four decades, most recently in his role as interim president,” Nellis said in a university-wide email when the announcement was made. “He has been a tremendous asset to me, personally, as I embarked upon the beginning of my tenure as OHIO’s 21st president. It only makes sense to continue working closely with David as I continue to transition into my new role.” As it stands, the university is working to establish a search committee that will “handle all subsequent steps” in the process to find the next executive vice president and provost, OU Spokesman Jim Sabin said. Though such a committee has not yet been created, Sabin said the position would likely be filled in the summer or early fall 2018. Descutner himself will have limited involvement in the process itself — only to the extent that he would help form the committee, he explained. But he does have a bit of advice for his successor. “Be prepared to learn a heck of a lot from President Nellis,” Descutner said. “And be looking forward to working with the deans and the staff here.” As for what’s next, Descutner laughs at the prospect of “re-retiring.” “I’m going to step down and consider going back into the college of medicine,” he said. “I’ve been told that they’d have me back.”
@LAUREN__FISHER LF966614@OHIO.EDU THEPOSTATHENS.COM / 17
Illustration by Abby Day
Next man up: Nellis sees value in, has history of involvement with athletics ETHAN FELDERSTEIN FOR THE POST he departure of former Ohio University President Roderick McDavis last spring didn’t just signal the end of the 13-year tenure of the first black and second alumnus president. When McDavis left office last spring, so did arguably the biggest Ohio Bobcats fan. The 1970 OU alumnus was a tireless advocate of Ohio athletics during his time in office and was constantly seen at Bobcats games, especially at his designated seats at The Convo and Peden Stadium. Three years into his presidency, the athletic department eliminated four programs and then lost its athletic director the next year, but McDavis left behind a legacy of absolute stability. OU President Duane Nellis joins the Ohio Bobcats at a time when Ohio’s athletics may be at its peak. Nellis, the former president at Big 12 powerhouse Texas Tech University, is no stranger to the world of college athletics. A former member of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, Nellis was one of a dozen university presidents who approved the college football playoff system. While he was president of the Uni18 / SEPT. 7, 2017
versity of Idaho and a member of the oversight committee, Nellis pushed for more representation of mid-majors and lamented the role major TV contracts have in pushing smaller programs out of competitive conferences. “It has drained away some of the teams that have been a part of our conferences,” Nellis told Sports Illustrated in 2012. “It really does create this sense of the haves versus the have-nots. It kind of undermines what I feel should be the philosophy of the NCAA and the BCS in the whole area of what’s best for the student-athlete.” Nellis’ Idaho Vandals, a mid-major program, went through a similar departure in 2012 when the Western Athletic Conference discontinued football. Idaho played as an independent in 2013 — Nellis’ final year as president of the university. With Ohio, Nellis likely won’t face any talk about conference realignment, but that doesn’t mean he won’t face challenges in the coming years. The Sook Center, the academic center exclusively for student-athletes, was scheduled to begin construction last month and poses a balancing act for the new president. Though praised by those close to athletics for its ability to attract potential recruits, it has come under fire by Faculty Senate. Since the announcement of the pro-
“Athletics is, in many ways, the front porch of how many Americans see the university. It may not be fair, but in many ways, it is the reality. ... Overall, I feel like athletics is an important part of the institution, but it needs to be balanced with the academic side.” -OU President Duane Nellis posal three years ago, the Faculty Senate passed resolutions calling for the university to abandon efforts to construct the building, according to a previous Post report. The project is being paid for by university fundraising efforts. McDavis was a supporter of the project. “Building a new academic center supports our vision of providing a top-tier student learning experience for our student-athletes,” McDavis said in an news release. “They are students first and foremost and providing Ohio student athletes with a facility will only help us to achieve our goal of supporting their academic success and degree attainment at a higher level.” Nellis has not yet made a statement about the Sook Center, but his response would dictate his stance on the relationship between finances and the university’s athletic department and could indicate how
the university might proceed in the future. Last year, the university allocated 63.6 percent of the athletic department’s $31.8 million in revenue, according to USA Today. Nellis acknowledged that the university’s athletic department doesn’t generate as much revenue as “that school up north,” a reference to Ohio State University. He said, however, that it does lead to other opportunities within the university, including the sport management program. “Athletics is, in many ways, the front porch of how many Americans see the university,” Nellis said in his search forum on Jan. 10. “It may not be fair, but in many ways, it is the reality. … Overall, I feel like athletics is an important part of the institution, but it needs to be balanced with the academic side.”
President Nellis hopes to increase diversity, international enrollment JESSICA HILL FOR THE POST As the new president of Ohio University, Duane Nellis hopes to increase diversity and international student enrollment on campus. Over the last four years, international student enrollment has decreased, according to the OU website. “We are still ahead of where we were in 2010, however, there is always room for improvement and we want to proactively recruit more international students,” Nellis said in an email. At Texas Tech University, Nellis was part of a task force to promote diversity. During Nellis’ presidency at Texas Tech, the university had an increase in international enrollment by 22 percent in 2014, according to Texas Tech’s website. Nellis does not currently have plans to initiate a diversity task force at OU, but he plans to build relationships with students to discuss international and diversity topics informally. He also plans to collaborate with Carla Triana, the new president of International Student Union, and the rest of ISU often. Triana says she hopes Nellis actively gets involved in the international community. “I feel like the community just needs to know that he’s supportive of them,” Triana said. “Especially with the political climate, I think they need reassurance that they are welcome here.” She said she looks forward to Nellis as a president because of his work at Texas Tech. He made the campus “more global,” and she hopes he does the same at OU. Triana wants Nellis and his team to be hands-on and get to know international students on a more personal basis. “I think if he is able to understand the community on a more personal basis — I get it, there’s hundreds of (international students) — if he gets a sense of the community, he’d be able to really focus on what needs to be improved,” she said. Nellis hopes the appointment Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina as interim chief diversity officer will help further strengthen the collab-
“I believe our University is enriched by having international students on our campus, and we want to be a place where people from around the world can engage new ideas and feel safe in doing that.” -OU President Duane Nellis oration between the offices of Student Affairs, Diversity & Inclusion, the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies, and the Office of Strategic Enrollment Management. Nellis said one of his priorities for diversity and inclusion is to make sure OU’s environment is respectful to everyone. “I believe our University is enriched by having international students on our campus, and we want to be a place where people from around the world can engage new ideas and feel safe in doing that,” Nellis said in an email. Katie Meehan, a senior studying global studies and international business, said diversity is what makes the campus unique. “I grew up in a diverse city, so I’ve had a huge exposure to diversity, and I’ve also studied abroad twice,” Meehan said. “I think it’s really important to have all the different cultural aspects, and diversity is what makes us who we are.” Meehan was not sure how Nellis himself could help improve diversity, but she said there should be more activities and fairs to integrate the international students with the domestic students. “We have a huge international community at OU, but they’re not integrated with the (domestic) students.” Meehan said. “We’re still separated.”
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Serving students and faculty At each university Duane Nellis has worked at, he made sure faculty and students were a top priority TAYLOR JOHNSTON DIGITAL PRODUCTION EDITOR
huck Martin was at a loss when he arrived at Kansas State University in 1989. He was a new face in the geography department and had yet to earn his doctoral degree — most other faculty members already had. “I was basically given a year contract and if I wasn’t done with my Ph.D, defending my dissertation, I would have lost my job,” Martin said. When Martin finally received his doctorate in geography, he had many people to thank for their support. One of those people happened to be his department head, now the 21st president of Ohio University: Duane Nellis. “Duane was very instrumental in helping me get my teaching moving forward,” Martin said. Nellis comes from a lengthy background of working at universities across the country. He has been dedicated to faculty at several universities, recognizing their achievements and efforts to students. Those skills and experiences will help him continue to shape OU. A native of Spokane, Washington, Nellis later became a Bobcat at Montana State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in earth sciences and geography. He then attended Oregon State University, where he completed his master’s and doctoral degrees in geography. Over the years, Nellis has worked at Kansas State University, West Virginia University, the University of Idaho, Texas Tech University and now OU. KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY 1980-1997, 2004-2009 Nellis began his career at Kansas State University in 1980, where he served as an assistant professor in geography. He later rose to professor and head of the department of geography from 1987-1993. Afterward, he served as associate dean of the Kansas State College of Arts and Sciences for about three years. 20 / SEPT. 7, 2017
Duane Nellis poses with Texas Tech University’s mascot, Raider Red, at a Texas Tech football game. (PROVIDED VIA TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY)
He left for West Virginia University to be the dean of Eberly College for Arts and Sciences but returned to Kansas State in 2004. He stayed there as the university’s provost until becoming a finalist for the University of Idaho presidency in 2009. While Nellis helped strengthen the geography department at Kansas State, he also helped strengthen the university itself. “He really tried to keep in touch with what they were doing in terms of their research and their teaching,” Martin said. He is very much a faculty-centered administrator. I’m sure he will be that way at Ohio University.” Kansas State also helped Nellis grow and develop as a leader. “I also feel like the experiences I’ve had there helped to shape me as far as my experiences and commitment in areas like learning and engagement, my commitment to inclusivity and social justice,” Nellis said. He also has several awards for his work in agriculture and rural geography and his achievements, according to a Kansas State news article.
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY 1997-2004 While at West Virginia University, Nellis served as the dean of Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. He helped new majors become available for students, including forensic and investigative science, women’s studies and criminology. “His style of leadership was inclusive and respectful of shared governance while pressing a forward-looking vision that kept the college’s academic programs contemporary and student-centric,” Gerald Lang, a provost for WVU during Nellis’ time there, said. Nellis’ passion for geography did not stop, even while he was the dean. Nellis even taught geology and geography, including a freshman introductory physical geography course and a graduate-level remote sensing class. He conducted geographical research in natural resource systems and geospatial analysis. He also oversaw the planning and construction of the $50 million Life Science Building, which houses nationally ranked psychology and biology departments, Lang said.
“Duane was well liked by the college’s faculty as he represented them well,” Lang said in an email. “He hired great faculty that became today’s cornerstones of the college’s research focus. Duane was the model of a servant leader.” UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO 2009-2013 Nellis served as the University of Idaho’s 17th president and, while this was his first presidency, he had to make some tough decisions that affected both faculty and students. At the time, the university was facing economic difficulties. Jobs had to be eliminated, student fees increased and degree programs were no longer offered. During his presidency, student enrollment increased and the University of Idaho gained national recognition of the university marketing campaign, Vision 2020, which helped create a sustainable economic base for the university. To recognize staff and faculty at the University of Idaho, he created two awards: the University Distinguished Professor Award and the Presidential Mid-Career Award. Later in his career at the University of Idaho, he announced the creation of two task forces to ensure campus safety, including a substance and alcohol abuse task force to evaluate the university’s policies and examine its relationship with fraternities and sororities, according to a UI news release. “While it is true that substance abuse is a complex national problem that we’re not immune from; it is our duty, because of the deep responsibility we feel to students and their families, to regularly examine how we handle these issues so that we can do everything possible to help our students make wise choices that allow them to remain safe,” Nellis said in the news release. TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY 2013-2016 Nellis went on to his second presidency, becoming the 16th president of Texas Tech University in 2013. He had many accomplishments at Texas Tech, including achievements with faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and the community. “(Nellis is) someone who understands that it takes all members of a campus community to provide the type of education, experience, and growth that our students deserve,” said Aliza Wong, who was Faculty Senate president at Texas Tech during the first year of Nellis’ presidency. When it came to Texas Tech’s faculty and staff, Nellis improved faculty awards, created development opportunities and continued enhancing research and teaching space, according to a news release. Graduation and retention rates were a goal of Nellis. He improved those rates by hiring more advisers and working with students who were struggling academically or transitioning to a different college. Lastly, he worked to connect the community with the faculty at Texas Tech to work on projects and help improve the campus. “Someone who respects faculty governance, creates opportunities for professional development for staff, and asks how he can better serve as an educator, administrator, colleague, and citizen,” Wong said in an email. OHIO UNIVERSITY 2017While interviewing for the presidency at OU, Nellis asked that his travel arrangements be made to allow him to teach his class before boarding the airplane, Wong said. “Even when a personal opportunity arose, he thought
Duane Nellis in front of the president’s office at the University of Idaho during his time as its president. (PROVIDED VIA THE UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO)
Nellis when he started his time at Kansas State University. (PROVIDED VIA MORSE DEPARTMENT OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)
Nellis during his time at West Virginia University, (PROVIDED VIA WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY)
first of the well-being of his students,” Wong said in an email. “And that, to me, is the best type of president a university can have.” Nellis spent his first day at OU just like any other new Bobcat — at orientation, where he met Rufus, he received his ID card and ate a meal in one of the campus dining halls. “The fire that was lit when I went away to become an undergraduate student is still there today,” Nellis said. “It was reinforced at each place that I’ve been, how special universities are and what they contribute not only to our states, but
to our nation and the world.” Just like any other new student, Nellis has goals for the upcoming years in Athens: He wants to continue to focus on social justice, inclusivity and diversity, along with creating engaging learning environments for students in which they have opportunities to work together. “I just want to make sure that I am accessible and engaged with the university community at every level,” he said.
@TF_JOHNSTON TJ369915@OHIO.EDU THEPOSTATHENS.COM / 21
the weekender Brothers Osborne to play MemAud on Friday HALLE WEBER FOR THE POST Two-time American Music Award winning duo Brothers Osborne will be stepping its boots onto Athens dirt this weekend. “They are very talented musicians, writers and performers,” Andrew Holzaepfel, the senior associate director of student activities, said. “They have success on the radio, but they’re also a very different kind of artist. … They’re not pop country by any means.” Brothers Osborne will light up the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Audito-
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rium on Friday night. There are limited tickets remaining as of press time, with prices ranging from $35 for the first 10 rows and $25 for the remainder. The duo will be joined by special guest Christian Lopez, who will open the show with a solo acoustic at 8 p.m. Earlier this week, brothers TJ and John Osborne received a Country Music Award nomination for Vocal Duo of the Year and an Academy of Country Music nomination for Vocal Duo of the Year. Holzaepfel said he jumped at the chance to book the rising country stars. “It seemed like a great time for us to get them before they were too big for us
to have them,” Holzaepfel said. Anna Perry, who is studying social work, said she was glad she could see the duo while its ticket prices were still reasonable and the venues it was playing weren’t too overwhelming. “They’re starting to become a bigger thing, so I thought it’d be fun to see them while they’re starting out,” Perry said. MemAud is a 2,000 seat venue that is a key part of the music scene in the area. Holzaepfel said he tries to entice a broader audience than just students and country music is a good way to do so, adding that it’s common for residents of Parkersburg, West
Virginia, and Marietta to make the trip for a particularly enticing act. “Country music has always done well for us here at Ohio University, both in the community and from our student ticket buyers,” Holzaepfel said. He emphasized the expansion of country music listeners in recent years as a contributing factor. “I think we’ll have an awesome crowd on Friday night,” Holzaepfel said. “It’ll be a great show.”
WHAT’S GOING ON? Kevin Pan Slot Editor Friday Poetry Slam Dunk 8 p.m. at Donkey Coffee, 17 W. Washington St. Blue Pencil Comedy will be hosting the event which will feature original works and samples from famous poets. Admission is free. 80s Night with DJ Barticus 10 p.m. at Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St. DJ Barticus will be spinning your favorite oldies. The dance party costs $3, but $5 for people under 21. The Marcus King Band 9 p.m. at The Union Bar & Grill, 18 W. Union St. Marcus King, a songwriter, guitarist, singer and bandleader will be performing at The Union, along with special guest J.D. Hutchison. The band describes its music as psychedelic southern rock, blues and funk, according to its Facebook page. Tickets are on sale for $18.
Saturday Undoukai (Sports Festival) 12 p.m. at TailGreat Park, 97 Richland Ave. The Ohio University Japanese Student Association will be hosting a Japanese-themed sports festival that will include an obstacle course, bottle fishing, quizzes and more. The event is described as “kid-friendly” on Facebook. Admission is free. Fall Splash 1 p.m. at the OU Aquat-
ic Center, 122 Oxbow Trail. Ohio University Campus Recreation will be hosting an event at the aquatic center filled with fun activities, games and demo swim lessons. Participants will have a chance to win prizes. Admission is free.
Becky Sirc, a barista at Donkey Coffee, makes an order on Oct. 12. (MICHAEL JOHNSON / FILE)
Everything Local 1:30 p.m. at Ath-
ensworks, 29 E. Carpenter St. Athensworks will be hosting its third installment of Everything Local, described as “a glimpse into the creative activity taking place in the Athens area,” according to the Facebook event. The event this weekend will be focusing on the local food economy and will have contributions from local organizations Green Edge Gardens, Athens Local Food Buying Club, Ohio University Culinary Services, The Kroger Co., Community Food Initiatives and Athens-Hocking Recycling Center. There will also be a panel followed by discussions. Admission is free. Amethystone Unplugged 6
p.m. at Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St. Piano-driven fantasy rock band Amethystone will perform. The band describes themselves as socially
and environmentally conscious. Admission is free. Keep Wayne Wild Athens Fundraiser
10 p.m. at Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St. Acoustic Avalanche, Appalachian Hillside Revolution, Galactic Asphalt Co. and the Ben Davis Jr. Band will all perform throughout the night in efforts to help protect Wayne National Forest. T-shirts are available for sale at $25, and decals are $5. There will be a $5 sliding scale donation at the door.
Sunday Legacy Tournament 1 p.m. at The Wizard’s Guild, 19 W. Washington St. The first round will pair promptly at 1 p.m. No decklists are required for participants. First place will take home a Dark Ritual Invocation, according to the Facebook event page. There is a $5 entry fee.
Acro Yoga 5 p.m. on South Green in front of Nelson Dining Hall. Attendees are recommended to bring a yoga mat or a blanket and comfortable clothes. The organizers hope to make this a weekly event, according to the Facebook event. Admission is free. Trivia Night 5 p.m. at Little Fish
Brewing Company, 8675 Armitage Road. The September edition of trivia night will take place for three hours Sunday afternoon. There will be eight rounds with eight questions per round. Teams can have up to eight people, and the winning team will receive a voucher for one beer per person. The Facebook event page warns that seating is limited, so participants should come early. The event is also described as “kid friendly.” Admission is free. THEPOSTATHENS.COM / 23
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