We’re Investing in the Student Experience, and Our World’s Future

On a glorious weekend in early October the entire OWU community came together to celebrate the record-breaking Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign. More than 1,000 alumni, parents, and friends came to campus to share in the celebration and Homecoming/Fall Family Weekend.

The Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign brought $238 million in gifts to advance the mission of Ohio Wesleyan University. The campaign dramatically increased endowment support for scholarships and financial aid, for the student experience defined by The OWU Connection, and for support of the faculty, who are the heart and soul of the university. The campaign provided a transformation of the physical campus, both the historic academic campus and the residential campus. More than half of the beds on campus are in buildings that are new or fully renovated as a result of this campaign.

Nearly 20,000 people made gifts to Ohio Wesleyan through the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign. Each gift represents gratitude for the impact of the university on the lives and families of the donor, and each gift represents confidence in the future of the university as an undergraduate, residential university where lives are transformed and graduates are prepared to change the world.

It is especially remarkable that the final 15 months of the campaign took place during a global pandemic, when we were unable to meet with donors in normal ways, and when all of us were distracted by the unprecedented challenge of COVID. Yet, it was in this period that the campaign achieved its greatest success and left its greatest mark on the campus, with the construction of Bradford Milligan Hall and the full renovation of Smith Hall as the home of all first-year students.

More than half of the beds on campus are in buildings that are new or fully renovated as a result of this campaign.

Rock Jones

President, Ohio Wesleyan University

As I think about the impact of a campaign that concluded in the midst of a pandemic, I am reminded of two of the many lessons the pandemic taught us.

First, while we saw that it is possible to continue teaching and learning in a remote environment, we learned that there is no substitute for the experience of being in residence, on campus. The entire campus is a laboratory for learning. Learning happens in the classrooms, laboratories, and studios; on the playing fields; in the dining halls, residence halls, and Greek houses on the Hill; while passing one another on the JAYwalk; and engaging in all of the ways that contribute to a well-rounded education. The campaign allowed us to invest deeply in the physical campus, and the pandemic reminded us again why this is so important.

Second, the pandemic has reminded us of the fundamental value of liberal arts education to our society. The pandemic has called for leadership in public policy, scientific inquiry, public health, social service, and more. I have been fascinated to learn of the ways in which Ohio Wesleyan alumni have been at the forefront of much of the work of the pandemic. In this issue of OWU Magazine, you will read about several women who have been instrumental in the scientific work of the pandemic. All graduated in the last 15 years, and all benefited from the powerful experience of being on campus in close collaboration with faculty mentors as they completed their undergraduate work.

The campaign allowed us to invest even more deeply in the student experience and in the work of the faculty who shape this experience, and once again, the pandemic reminded us why this is so important.

As you read this issue, I hope you will feel both the gratitude and the confidence that inspired the success of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign, and that inspires the work of every person on campus, every day. I can think of no work more important to the future health and well-being of our society.

Rock Jones
President, Ohio Wesleyan University
Twitter: @owu_rockjones