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Scott Miller, director of the Consortium for Energy, Economics, and the Environment, introduces Mark Weinberg, professor and founding dean of the Voinovich School.
Photo by Kaitlin Klann

Voinovich School Welcomes Students for a New Year

Madison Koenig
September 10, 2014

Students, faculty, and staff from all areas of the Voinovich School community had the rare opportunity to come together as they celebrated the beginning of a new academic year during a Welcome Reception held in the Walter Hall Rotunda Sept. 2.

Researchers set up tables around the room, and members of the community had a chance to socialize with each other while learning about the numerous projects currently under way at the School.

In his opening remarks, Mark Weinberg, professor and founding dean of the Voinovich School, encouraged all members of the community -- especially new students -- to reflect on the mission of the School's dual goals: "One is that we educate students. Two is that we impact communities."

Weinberg said that this philosophy is carried out in all three of the School's program areas: energy and the environment, entrepreneurship and regional development, and policy innovation and strategic leadership. Although researchers focus on each of these areas individually, Weinberg also highlighted the multidisciplinary nature of the School, noting that people at the School collaborate across disciplines. He closed his statements by encouraging new students to follow suit.

“Take advantage of the experience, take advantage of the talent of the other students, and take advantage of the talent of the people in this room,” he said.

Caleb Hawkins, a second-year student in the environmental studies program, also spoke at the reception, focusing on the unique communities of both Ohio University and Athens. The best thing about the Voinovich School, he said, was the chance for students to immerse themselves in the community. Hawkins does this through his work as a graduate assistant with the Appalachian Watershed Research Group, but there are numerous other ways for students to get involved, he said.

Another student who spoke at the reception acknowledged that getting involved can be a challenge. Emily Burns, a second-year student in the public administration program, compared starting at the Voinovich School to her first year as an undergraduate at Ohio University.

“It was like being a freshman all over again, with less time for acclimation and less room for error,” she said.

However, she said she soon felt more at ease, especially with the support of the faculty and her fellow students.

“I hope all of you will find your place here, as I have, and come to feel like you belong here, because you do,” she said.

Although the students enjoyed the chance to celebrate, many are excited to get started on their work.

“This year I’m looking forward to getting my research going,” said Scott Comisford, an incoming environmental studies student. His project, which will get under way next year, will use tree core samples to measure tree growth responses to different environments.

The Voinovich School is looking forward to another promising year, one that will contain as many successes as the year before and exciting projects to discuss at next year’s reception.