1988 I was hired as an Assistant Professor at a small liberal arts university
in northeastern Ohio, my first position in higher education. That was
my dream job. My college degrees were from two mammoth state universities,
Ohio State and Kent State, and I was uncharacteristically envious of
my colleagues who had attended small, private, Christian campuses. I
was now among that select group, and I felt at home.
In a short time, however, I became a bit disillusioned
about the universitys administration and how the campus was being
run, especially within the academic area. In 1990 there was an opening
for an assistant academic dean, and I applied and was hired. Two years
later I was promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs, and in
1996 I was named the universitys Interim President. The following
year I applied to Ozarks and was hired here as President.
My point in all of this? To make a difference, you
often have to get inside the system; you have to become an integral
part of the system. A severe case of hoarseness is the only reward for
standing on the sidelines and shouting criticisms. Our principle governing
body for students at Ozarks is the Student Government Association. SGA
is the voice of the students, and that voice is an especially important
one for me. I cannot meet with all 700 students on a personal, one-on-one
basis, so I listen carefully to SGA recommendations and consider those
recommendations to be a collective consensus of all students. It is
important for students to understand that I hold SGA in the highest
regard, and I make myself available to meet with the officers on a regular
basis. Each year the SGA President and Vice President are appointed
to the Campus Budget Committee, and those two students have a powerful
effect on the budget decisions and priorities affecting all of us.
The Student Government Association is a strong and
powerful influence on me and the Presidents Staff. The strength
and power of its influence on you, the students, is in your control.
You are the ones electing SGA leaders who must listen, invite your participation,
and welcome your suggestions. And you, in return, must get involved
and participate in those decisions affecting you. That is your responsibility.
The SGA candidates for next years offices will have an open forum
on April 12th to share their ideas and to answer your questions. Please
attend! SGA elections will be held on April 13th and 14th. Please vote!
Not all campuses empower their students with as much
authority and influence as we do at Ozarks. Take advantage of it. You
can truly make a difference. And, believe me, making a difference in
the lives of others is a source of great pride and satisfaction. .
Dr. Rick Niece