06:32 AM

​Ohio State president brings his message to Mansfield campus

Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake is hitting the road this spring to visit some of the university's regional campuses, beginning with Mansfield. Drake spent Friday in Richland County meeting with faculty, students and staff explaining his vision for the university.

“One of the things that I talk about repeatedly is access, affordability and excellence. It’s the triad of our approach as a university and how important the regional campuses are to that triad,” Drake said.

Drake began his day meeting with faculty to answer their questions about the role of the regional campus at Ohio State. The president worked to leave no doubt about his views.

“Regional campuses are a critical part of our one university,” he said. “It’s something important and thought of in everything we do, all of the time.”

Drake spoke about improving access to professional development for faculty. He also said faculty on regional campuses could be leaders in online learning curriculum regardless of their geographic location.

“I think by having the president here it signifies in a variety of important ways how connected we are,” said Stephen Gavazzi, dean and director of the Mansfield campus.

Community support

Following the meeting with faculty, Drake was off to Ed Pickens’ Café On Main. He posed for pictures with owner Ed Pickens and then sat down to discuss his approach to education and the benefits of the regional campus with local media.

President Drake meets local media 

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof joined in the discussion with reporters. Obhof is a graduate of Ohio State and his senate district includes the Mansfield campus. He and Drake toured the region last summer and he said the campus is critical to the region.

“I think it’s great for the community because they get to see that relationship with Ohio State improve and understand that the leaders of Ohio State University are here getting to know them,” Obhof said.

Investments in the Mansfield campus have been a boon to the surrounding community. New student housing has helped grow enrollment and grow the reach of the campus. That housing has spurred businesses to develop in the neighborhood. More students attend the Mansfield campus from Cuyahoga County than Richland County.

Drake was the keynote speaker at a lunch hosted by the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Richland Community Development Group and Destination Mansfield/Richland County. He discussed the future of the Mansfield campus.

One new development: The campus is adding more engineering classes with the goal of offering students a chance to earn a four-year degree in mechanical engineering without leaving Mansfield. Drake also noted the campus will be part of a data analysis project to help advisers track student performance in a way that allows them to provide struggling students help as early as possible.

“If we can interact with them right away we can help them move forward,” Drake said.

Following the speech, Drake opened the floor to questions. Arielle Gibson, a second-year psychology major, wanted to know how she will fit in on the vast Columbus campus when she heads there to finish her degree in the fall.

Drake said the experience is like moving from a small town to New York City.

“What happens, when you come to a campus where we have nearly 60,000 students, you can’t know everybody and they won’t know you. But there will be, among them, hundreds and hundreds of wonderful people who will love and support and admire you in every way you can imagine,” Drake said.

He invited Gibson to have lunch with him on the Columbus campus so he could help her understand how she could fit in – an offer Gibson accepted.

“I think it makes sense that once I get there, I’ll find a smaller group of people and I can make a lot of connections,” Gibson said.

Student success

President Drake wrapped up his day with what looked to be one his favorite moments: meeting with students.

Free cookies and snacks may have enticed some students to this event, but the opportunity to question the president one-on-one appeared to be the real draw.

Drake was asked when he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. His ambitions include race car driver, filmmaker and medical doctor. A career path as an ophthalmologist ultimately won out.

Another student asked about the secret of success.

“I think doing a good job of being your best self is a good thing to do,” Drake said. “It gives you the greatest number of opportunities.”

Keenan Churchman, a second-year criminal justice major, appreciated the president’s visit to the Mansfield campus.

“I think it was cool. I liked how he was trying to look forward to the future," Churchman said.

Before he headed back to Columbus, Drake took time to take pictures with the students.

“One of the greatest joys of being president is being your president,” Drake told them.