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.
“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."Duane Nellis, 21st president of OU
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 the Texas Tech 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 her organization often.
Alex Driehaus | FILE
Volunteers serve food to guests during the International Dinner, presented by the International Student Union, on Sunday, November 5, 2015, in Baker Center Ballroom.
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 University. He made the campus “more global,” and she hopes he does the same at Ohio University.
She 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,” Triana said.
Nellis hopes the appointment of Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina as interim chief diversity officer will help further strengthen the collaboration 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.
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. We’re still separated,” Meehan said.