Building Senate Relations


Duane Nellis working to use student leaders’ voices in leadership

Maddie Capron / News Editor

As soon as Duane Nellis became Ohio University’s 21st president, he began reaching out to build connections with the leaders of Graduate Student Senate and Student Senate.


After senate elections took place in April, Nellis got in touch with the new executives of both senate bodies to start developing a relationship with each. Shared governance and having many different voices involved in decisions and leadership are both important to Nellis.


“I believe in shared governance and having as many different voices at the table as possible,” he said in an email. “I intend to frequently engage with all the senates, in addition to my interactions with many others in the Bobcat Family.”


Student Senate President Landen Lama said Nellis’ actions so far reflect that goal.


“In the spirit and application of Shared Governance, it is extremely important that there is a relationship between the President and his office,” Lama said in an email. “It's important because the constituency that I represent is the largest stakeholder on the Athens Campus and in order for the University to grow the voice of the student body must be taken into account.”


Fac Senate

McKinley Law | FILE

President Nellis speaks during the first student senate meeting of the year at Ohio University on Wednesday, August 30, 2017.

Thus far, Nellis has approached Lama for assistance in finding resolutions to problems on campus. Over the summer, for example, Nellis went to Lama to gauge his opinions on the search for a new interim executive vice president and provost.


“Early on in his Presidency, he asked for my opinions on Interim Executive Vice President and Provost,” Lama said in an email. “This past week at the Board of Trustees, he invited me to participate in retreat conversations and he has also expressed his desire to meet together more frequently.”


Meeting more frequently with student leaders is another goal for Nellis, who said he first met with Graduate Student Senate and Student Senate at the welcome reception for him and his wife, Ruthie, in March.


“Since that time, I visited both Landen and (GSS President) Maria in their offices at Baker Center and have talked to each on the telephone,” Nellis said in an email. “Now that the semester has begun, I will be having regular one-on-one meetings with each of them and I sincerely look forward to those regular, face-to-face conversations.”


GSS President Maria Modayil said that since Nellis became president, he has been inclusive of students and hears their opinions.


“He has personally met with me and some Execs, (he) recognizes me at every public occasion, and has been open to listening and having conversations with the graduate students,” she said in an email. “I give him all credit for including us in the process and being open to new ways to include student voices as he is establishing his initiatives.”


Collaborating with the student government leaders on campus is beneficial not only for members of university senates, but also for all students, GSS Vice President for Communication Becky Salami said.


“I will interact with President Nellis in a manner consistent with the wishes of the graduate student body and as directed with the other members of GSS Leadership,” Chris Glick, GSS vice president for legislative affairs, said in an email. “This is a great chance for a new start for everyone. It is a new year.”

Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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