Volume 6  Issue # 14
Monday, April 5, 2004

The President's Post
       In 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 university’s 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 university’s 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 President’s 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 year’s 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

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