Looking Back in Gratitude on a Decade at OWU

Rock speaks at 2018 Commencement.

This summer marks a personal milestone as I complete my 10th year as president of Ohio Wesleyan University. I feel today, even more than I felt 10 years ago, honored and humbled to serve this great institution. In the spirit of a season of personal reflection and gratitude, here are some things I have learned over the past decade:

  • Ohio Wesleyan attracts amazing students who bring aspiration, curiosity, and commitment to their college experience. They want to learn; they want to serve; and ultimately they want to make a difference in the world. Nothing has been more thrilling than presiding at Commencement and presenting diplomas to new graduates, every one of whom crosses the stage with a sense of accomplishment and with an awareness of possibility as they leave OWU for all that is to come.
  • The faculty at OWU are deeply committed to students and to the values of a liberal arts education. They cherish our heritage, while always thinking in innovative ways about how to fulfill that heritage in the future. New majors, summer online courses, The OWU Connection, and consistent appreciation for individual mentoring of students in preparation for life and work beyond college are just some of the ways these commitments are fulfilled every day.
  • The staff who serve students and support the work of the faculty see their work as far more than a job. They embrace the educational mission at all levels of work, devoting their professional lives to enriching the experiences of our students in every aspect of their time on campus.
  • OWU alumni share an unusual depth of passion for their alma mater. They will do anything they can to support OWU’s mission and enhance the education of her students. Alumni assist with student recruitment, career advising, and internship placements; their philanthropic generosity is just extraordinary. OWU would not be OWU without the deep commitment of alumni.
  • The undergraduate, residential small college experience matters now more than ever. In a time when economies of scale often call for larger and larger enterprises, and when technology makes it possible to fulfill virtually any transaction by sitting in front of a computer screen or looking at a hand-held device, there is no replacement for the “Aha!” moments that accompany the learning environment of a small seminar, individual and regular interaction with a faculty mentor, and the leadership and social engagement fostered beyond the classroom at a small college.
  • Full development of The OWU Career Connection will provide an even stronger pathway to life beyond college. A liberal arts education is the ideal preparation for life and work. It prepares not just for the first job, but for lifelong learning that leads to meaningful and fulfilling jobs throughout life.
  • Higher education is the ladder of opportunity in our society, and equal access to this ladder is fundamental to our democracy. Ohio Wesleyan will not waver from its commitment to be affordable and accessible to all qualified students and to serve a diverse array of students from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.

OWU alumni share an unusual depth of passion for their alma mater. They will do anything they can to support OWU’s mission and enhance the education of her students.

Rock Jones

President, Ohio Wesleyan University

Rock shortly after his inauguration in 2008 as Ohio Wesleyan’s 16th president.

In this issue of the magazine, we offer a vibrant full-color look at one of those corners through the lens of frequent contributor Mark Schmitter ’12, who accompanied several student travel-learning groups throughout Europe this summer as they explored issues ranging from sectarianism to imperialism, with Shakespeare’s sonnets in between.

Also in this issue, alumni and students lend their voices to a portrait of the House of Black Culture, a place that has helped foster a vital support system for students of color who resided there, and in the campus community at-large, since its founding nearly five decades ago.

And author and columnist Richard North Patterson ’68 presents a look back at the year of his graduation in an essay that touches on every raw nerve still exposed today, a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.

I am grateful for all who support the mission of Ohio Wesleyan, and I look forward to our continued work together. Thank you for your support, and thank you for the opportunity to work with you.

Rock Jones
President, Ohio Wesleyan University
Twitter: @owu_rockjones

Return to the Fall 2018 OWU Magazine