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As students prepare to dive back into their school and work routines, members of the Ohio University administration prepare to grapple with myriad mix-ups and staffing changes. Several positions within the higher levels of OU governance were left vacant within the past semester, meaning the university is set to kick off a handful of national searches for replacements in the coming year.
OU is still in the planning phases in regard to the vacancies, with the salaries of those holding interim positions being determined on individual bases, university Spokesman Dan Pittman said.
Abby Gordon | ILLUSTRATION
After nearly a year of anticipation, Duane Nellis took office June 12 as the 21st president of OU.
Meanwhile, Roderick McDavis, who spent 13 years as OU president, has since settled into a new role as managing principal at AGB Search, a national search firm specializing in higher education.
The second alumnus and first black president to lead the university, McDavis announced his departure in March 2016, launching a national search and opening the door for David Descutner — an OU employee of over 35 years— to take the reins until a permanent replacement was announced.
The national search process yielded four finalists by January, but took a bit of an unexpected turn in February when three finalists withdrew their names within the course of the same week. Nellis, the former president of Texas Tech University, was the last candidate left standing.
Reporting directly to the president, the executive vice president and provost oversees the university deans and is responsible for a number of operations crucial to the functioning of the university, including academic programming, financial and budgetary planning, research and internal coordination.
Months after withdrawing her name from the presidential race, former Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit announced she would be stepping down to join the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she now serves as the university’s senior vice president and provost.
During her time at OU, Benoit led a number of initiatives, including the implementation of the OHIO Guarantee — a system in which tuition and fees remain at a flat rate for 12 consecutive semesters of attendance— and the development of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine program in Cleveland.
As the university prepares to search for a permanent replacement for Benoit, the position will be held by Descutner, who was appointed on the first day of the Nellis administration.
Also departing the office is Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Shari Clarke, who accepted a similar position at Eastern Washington University in June. Taking her place is Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina, who will oversee the LGBT Center, Multicultural Center and Women’s Center under the title of interim chief diversity officer until a national search yields a permanent replacement.
Bryan Benchoff, who first took on the office in July of 2011, began his term in charge of the $500 million “Promise Lives” capital campaign, while juggling leadership of the Ohio University Foundation, as well as alumni affairs and development.
In April, Benchoff announced that he would step down for a position as president and CEO of the Louisiana State University Foundation and vice president of Institutional Advancement. Taking his place in the interim is Tom Davis, an OU alumnus with 32 years of experience with the university.
As the fundraising arm of the university, the Ohio University Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization responsible for planning capital campaigns and managing private donations.
Just a month after Davis was appointed, he assisted Nellis in announcing David Bambrey as interim assistant vice president of alumni relations and interim executive director of the OU Alumni Association. Bambrey replaced Jennifer Neubauer, who resigned from OU for a position with the alumni association at her alma mater, the University of Illinois.
OU’s Division of Student Affairs will begin the year short one leading staff member — in June, Assistant Dean of Students Jamie Patton accepted a position with California Polytechnic State University as the school’s assistant vice president for Student Affairs – Diversity and Inclusion. During his more than three years at OU, Patton assisted with numerous aspects of student life, including the Parents Advisory Council and the planning of family weekends.
As of press time, an interim replacement for Patton had not been announced.Back