Ashland University Kicks Off School Year with All-Institutional Meeting
Ashland University President Dr. Fred Finks looked to the future during his address, titled “The Future Isn’t What We Thought It Would Be,” to faculty, staff and administrators during the University’s all-institutional meeting Wednesday afternoon in Hugo Young Theatre.
Finks noted that Wikipedia defines the word future as “an indefinite time period after the present. Its arrival is considered inevitable due to the existence of time and the laws of physics. Due to the nature of the reality and the unavoidability of the future, everything that currently exists and will exist is temporary and will come to an end.”
“I’ve been doing some thinking about the future and trying to envision what Ashland University might be like in 10, 20, 30 and even 50 years from now and I’ve come to one conclusion,” he said. “It is going to be both frightening and challenging and the future isn’t what we envision it to be.”
Finks said the University must be responsive to the trends that are emerging from the leaders across America and around the world, and that it must be able to make the responsive changes necessary to keep Ashland University relevant now and in the future.
“And it will be a different future and one step to help us to do that is an appointment of a University-wide task force to focus on a think-tank concept of the future of Ashland University,” Finks said. He said the task force will look at all facets of the University.
Finks said the future means that the U.S. will see increasing competition in every area where it is now superior. “Education will face increasing pressure because we no longer will have a monopoly on learning,” he said.
But Finks said he believes that the next 18 years could be some of the most exciting times that higher education has ever faced. “It cannot continue to be done the way things have always been done. It will be our responsibility to understand the past while embracing the future and making the necessary changes to remain relevant,” he said.
“Ten years ago I would have been scared to try to lead this University to embrace the changes that need to be made now,” he continued. “Ten years ago our focus was divided, our energies were self-absorbed, but I can attest to you today that I am excited to lead this University in shaping our future.”
Finks said the task will not be easy and it will not always be pleasant, but there is no option. “We must face the future with clarity of purpose and determination to change,” he said.
He praised members of the President’s Cabinet, deans, faculty members and other members of the campus. “In my 30 years here, I don’t know that I have seen a more cohesive group of individuals working together for the common purpose, the common goals of advancing this University,” he said.
Finks said the University’s actions surrounding the acquisition of the MedCentral College of Nursing prove that the University can move quickly.
He went through the scenario, with the opportunity for acquisition presenting itself to the University in December of 2009; the Board of Trustees, after 26 days of being notified, voting unanimously to acquire the College of Nursing; the faculty compiling and approving the curriculum in only four months; the accreditation report being completed in 16 days; the raising of $10 million for construction of the new building in only 13 months; and the construction that started in June being set for completion on Aug. 12, 2012.
“This was a total team effort and this is the kind of action required of all of us as we look to the future,” he said.
Finks noted that the students coming to Ashland University in the year 2020 are first graders today.
“We owe it to them to provide them with a living and learning environment that will prepare them to face the challenges of living in a global community and we owe it together that we commit ourselves, our resources and our minds to prepare this University for that position,” he said. “And I invite every one of you to join me in leading that change.”
The University also recognized a number of employees for 25 years of service. Those receiving Ashland University watches for service were Dr. Russ Weaver, professor of English; Dr. Barbara Schmidt-Rinehart, professor of Foreign Languages; Dr. Tom Reed, professor of Music; Dr. Soren Brauner, professor of Biology; Dr. Ronald Paugh, associate professor of Marketing; Dr. Steven Pool, professor of Management; Rene Rawraway, assistant professor of Hospitality Management; Katherine Rivera, administrative assistant in the MBA Office; Rae Ann Portner, administrative assistant in Schar College of Education; Stephen Howell, director of financial aid; Charlene Cordas, financial aid loan specialist; Lorlyn Senz, campus operator; Sue Ellen Ronk, faculty and cataloging librarian; Bill Edwards, purchasing manager for Student Dining; Scot Millhouse, supervisor, General Trades; Dr. David Baker, professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages; and Bryan Baker, Seminary maintenance.
Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.