The Board of Trustees travel to Florida for an update on OWU’s campus status

By Alanna Henderson, Managing Editor

The Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees held an offsite three-day retreat in Florida; it’s the first offsite meeting since 2014.

The meeting took place in Naples, Florida, from Feb. 9 through Feb. 11. with President Rock Jones, several trustees, the offices of the university, and eight faculty members in attendance.

The Board of Trustees meets four times a year. Back at the 2014 retreat, the Board of Trustees established the framework for OWU’s Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign. At the previous February retreat on campus, the board committed to OWU’s goal and plan for enrolling 2,020 students by fall of 2020.

The Florida retreat’s agenda was just as busy and equally as ambitious.

“The board meeting was an energizing time for all who participated as we explored the challenges faced by small colleges today and the many opportunities Ohio Wesleyan has to meet those challenges,” Jones said.

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature Sally Livingston is on the University Governance Committee and said the retreat was a very positive experience. The focus, she said, was to continue to make OWU the best the university can be.

“[The retreat] is more checking in to make sure we are on the right path in the right direction. In the end, we felt whatever little bumps might come up, we know that we are all committed to working on it together,” Livingston said.

It was reported to the rest of the faculty that of the eight new majors being introduced to students, Business Administration has generated the most interest from newly admitted students among any major. Also, many of the majors introduced this year have been among the most visited pages on the OWU website.

Additionally, Jones reported that OWU’s new regional recruiter in Chicago, Jay Shamlin, has helped double the number of OWU applicants from the Chicago area.

“The amount of international applications also are up substantially from last year, with an increase of more than 55 percent in completed applications from international students. Overall, applications are about even with this point last year,” Jones said in the email.

The fall-to-spring retention numbers fell this year, and the board continues to explore the reasons. The board is looking into retention issues related to academic, social and financial perspectives.

“This means looking carefully at the first-year experience including advising, student support services, and the residential experience; enhancing co-curricular opportunities including health, wellness, and recreational sports along with other existing initiatives, and creating a better understanding among new students of the level of work required for college success,” Jones said in the email.

At the meeting, the co-chairs of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign announced that the total raised to date exceeds $123 million.

According to an emailed report, the trustees were particularly enthusiastic about the impact of the campaign, which includes the $11 million for the OWU Connection, funding for three SLUplexes and a new Honors House, support of innovative new programs, Merrick Hall and the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center, more than $11 million in endowments supporting fac-
ulty positions, and more than $26 million for student scholarships and financial aid.

Two trustees, Carol Latham and Kara Trott, each announced seven-figure commitments to the campaign.

Jones said OWU will celebrate the 175th birthday anniversary as a part of Homecoming Weekend Oct. 19-22. Among the many festivities planned are a special Day on the JAY on Friday, welcoming the entire campus, Board of Trustees and other campus guests.

“This is an exciting time at Ohio Wesleyan as we approach our 175th anniversary and chart the course to help prepare new generations of students to become moral citizens in this truly global society… We have made progress, and we must continue to take urgent action and focus keenly on proper execution to best serve our students,” Jones said in the email.

Class of 2017 trustee elected

By Courtney Dunne, Editor-in-Cheif

The seniors have voted and the votes are in.

Current senior Daud Baz was elected to be the Class of 2017 trustee. Other candidates who ran included Lee LeBoeuf and Shashank Sharma.

Each year the graduating class elects a member to the Board of Trustees. The class of 2016 elected representative is Emma Drongowski.

During his time at OWU, Baz has served in multiple other leadership roles in diverse organizations across campus including president of Horizons in his sophomore year, Treasurer of Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs and philanthropy chair and corresponding secretary of his fraternity Phi Gamma Delta. He also serves on the senior class council and the Student Conduct Board.

“I have been at OWU for four years and when I started off, I never thought I would be so involved because coming from Afghanistan, there aren’t a lot of opportunities,” Baz said. “I never thought I would do anything this big in school.”

Baz said he wants to continue to imporve his leadership skills while bringing new ideas and change to the table.

“I am not going to change OWU overnight and I am not going to change everything, but I want to be a small drop of water in a big pond,” Baz said.

“Throughout my time at OWU, I saw leadership opportunities and I needed to grow and I saw the Board of Trustees position as an opportunity to do that.”

He will be a full voting member participating in discussions and making decisions alongside seasoned trustees.

“As a young student, I am voicing concerns of students and what they want to see changed,” Baz said. “I have learned a lot at OWU and I can take that home and do something bigger.”

Baz has also worked with the Embassy of Afghanistan on women’s rights. Completion of his internship pushed him to join more organizations on campus, as well as take on some leadership roles.

Baz said he would like to improve the dining services for students by trying to bring back options like the Library Cafe and Trattoria.

After receiving news that he would be the Class of 2017 trustee, Baz posted on his personal Facebook, “Someone once said, ‘Little drops of water make the ocean big.’ Thank you for entrusting me to be part of something bigger.”

“I wanted to take the time to express my appreciation to all those who supported my journey in being elected as Class of 2017 trustee. I am humbled to serve as a vessel of progress and unity for the OWU community. When I have the decisions to make, I will choose action, I will strive to always wear my values, to work diligently knowing you have placed your faith in me. Last but not least, I must acknowledge the candidates, Lee LeBoeuf and Shashank Sharma, in running a competitive race. Thank you once again.”

“I want to leave a position in better shape or at least the same shape,” he said.

Baz has already received messages from trustees congratulating him, which he said surprised him at how fast news spreads.

2,020 students by 2020

WCSA members talk to Trustees during their winter visit to campus. Photo by Olivia Lease.
WCSA members talk to Trustees during their winter visit to campus. Photo by Olivia Lease.

Areena Arora, Managing Editor

Olivia Lease, Online Editor

The Ohio Wesleyan Board of Trustees (BOT) passed a resolution to support the goal of enrolling 2,020 students by 2020 when they visited last week.

This goal, according to the BOT campus retreat report shared by President Rock Jones with faculty, calls for a 25 percent growth in total student body over the next five years. Ten faculty members were also present with the trustees for discussion.

On Feb. 11, Wesleyan Council of Student Affairs (WCSA) invited the Board of Trustees to dinner to discuss a myriad of issues and celebrate their love for the school.

Topics such as the importance socioeconomic and racial diversity among the students, and enhancing school spirit were discussed. Also at issue were the appropriate role of academic advisors and campus accessibility for students with different abilities.

In his opening statement, Thomas Tritton ‘69, chairperson of the board, said, “We [the board members] love coming back to campus because it allows us to reminisce. We love sharing good memories, and of course, blocking out the bad ones.”

Addressing the students present, Tritton said, “You all are going to be us someday. I hope that doesn’t scare you too much. It should inspire you instead.”

Junior Jess Choate, president of WCSA, said she wanted those in attendance at the dinner to focus on “looking to the past in order to better the present.”

Choate talked about discontinued OWU traditions such as Spring Fever Day during which a bell was rung and the students were allowed to ditch class in exchange for other fun activities. WCSA, she said, is aiming to reintroduce old traditions.

The idea of rethinking OWU’s plentiful travel opportunities was also discussed. Laurie Anderson, professor of botany-microbiology, suggested offering a competitive scholarship so more students can go on travel-learning courses.

Will Kopp, chief communications officer, suggested the idea of an “angel fund” or emergency scholarship to help students who are struggling to pay tuition. “It’s just a shame,” he said.

Senior Emma Drongowski, former WCSA vice president, who was in attendance and remembered planning the event last year, said, “It’s very stressful. I mean, people on the Board of Trustees are very important people and they have a limited amount of time on campus. So as a student, we know how valuable that time is.”

“At my table, we talked about varying abilities of students coming in, specifically academic-level abilities and how to best support them,” said Drongowski. “I think all the issues talked about today [at the dinner] were important, but the overall question on most people’s minds was retention just because that is indicative of a lot of other things on campus.”

According to U.S. News and World Report’s 2011 edition of America’s Best Colleges, OWU’s retention rate was 87 percent. The current rate however, is 81 percent, showing a drop of 6 percent in the past five years. In 2011, OWU had the lowest freshman retention rate of the Five Colleges of Ohio or the Ohio5 (Oberlin, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan, Denison and Wooster).

Gregory Moore ’76 said, “I love the big 2020 plan. We want to get more students to come and stay. The trustees are really starting to echo with what students have been saying. We are starting to listen more.”

During the retreat, the board reviewed results of the Student Satisfaction Inventory survey, which was collected in October 2015, and engaged, along with faculty, in conversations with students about ways to enhance the student experience and increase student satisfaction and success, according to the retreat report.

In an email, Rock Jones, the president of OWU, said, “This is an exciting time at the university as we set out on this new, critical pathway. We must embrace appropriate change while remaining true to our historic mission, be willing to take urgent action, keenly focus on proper execution and be dedicated to our nearly 175-year-old commitments to a liberal education, diversity and public service.”

Senior elected to the Board

Ibrahim Saeed. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Ibrahim Saeed. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

The election results are in and Ohio Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees will soon welcome its newest member.

After a long campaign, Ibrahim “Ibs” Saeed was added to the list of board members.

Every year the graduating class elects one member of their ranks to serve as a voice on the board. Saeed was elected by the class of 2015 and will stay on the board for a three-year term.

The election started out with seven candidates on the ballot. If none of the seven pulled in more than 50 percent of the votes then the top two candidates would face off in a runoff election.

“When I saw all the people running I didn’t know how I would win,” said Saeed. “But I was also at ease because I knew that even if I didn’t win our class would be in good hands.”

The election evolved into a runoff. The opposing candidates were Saeed and Lauren Rump. Both Rump and Saeed were very passionate about winning and used many platforms for advertising.

“I enjoyed running a campaign,” Rump said. “It was very fun. It was probably even more fun running against Ibs (Saeed). Our friendship definitely made the election competitive in a playful and exciting way.”

Saeed said he wants to hear what students in the senior class wish to see changed on campus so he can bring that knowledge to the board.

“The issue I’ve heard most is transparency,” Saeed said. “I think that is what some students feel is not done well by the board, so that is definitely one perspective I am going to bring in.”

According to senior Saige Bell, Saeed will make a good addition to the board because of the education he received from OWU.

“I’m glad Ibs won because as an economics major he will be more fiscally aware and less likely to waste school funds,” Bell said.