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Students, faculty and staff enjoy snacks and refreshments while getting to know one another and learning about ongoing projects at the Voinovich School.
Students, faculty and staff enjoy snacks and refreshments while getting to know one another and learning about ongoing projects at the Voinovich School.

Voinovich School Welcomes Students to a New Academic Year

Daniel Kington
September 6, 2016

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 Ridges Auditorium on August 26, 2016.

The event provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about the different projects ongoing in the Voinovich School.Both before and after the formal portion of the ceremony, students could meet one another, snack on refreshments and learn about the immense variety of ongoing work within the school. Many tables were set up throughout the auditorium, showcasing different aspects of student-led research, ranging from stream reclamation projects to work with regional business assistance program, TechGROWTH Ohio.

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 idea of leaving a legacy: “One day you will – not may - lead our communities, state, nation and other countries to greatness. Today we charge you tohave a great and rewarding career, be guided by core beliefs, and make a difference. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to mentor you and to provide you with opportunities to help you become leaders of tomorrow who will make our world the best it can be.”

Weinberg said that it is important, as we plan for our own legacies, to consider the legacies of those who came before us. Weinberg referred specifically to the late Senator George Voinovich, for whom the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is named. Voinovich amassed 44 years of public service in the Ohio Legislature, as mayor of Cleveland, governor of Ohio and U.S. senator. The senator, also an Ohio University alumnus, was dedicated to advancing the work of the Voinovich School in his later years.

“Senator Voinovich always encouraged the Voinovich School to design and deliver practical solutions to wickedly difficult problems; expand higher education public-private partnerships; and, most importantly, educate, mentor and develop people from every sector and walk of life engaged in public service,” Weinberg said. “The senator was justifiably proud of the long list of graduates from the Voinovich School’s programs who have become great leaders. Today you start or continue your learning so that you can follow these distinguished, accomplished alums. They’re proud of their association with the Voinovich School and you should feel proud to be part of it as well.”

Weinberg touted the accomplishments of various alumni, as well as the School’s national reputation and its work on stream reclamation, regional economic development and education.

Jason Jolley, faculty and director of the master of public administration program, praised the event’s focus on the variety of activities ongoing at the School and shared what he is looking forward to in the upcoming year.

“This event showcases the diversity of the School across our various innovation platforms,” he said. “I’m excited to continue work on economic development projects with a new group of students, and to expose these students to the valuable work we do here at the Voinovich School.”

It isn’t only faculty and staff who are excited for the year, however. Both new and returning students shared their goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.

“The first year flew by and I’m anticipating that the second year is going to as well because the school keeps us pretty engaged,” second-year MPA student Molly Hajjar said.

Meanwhile, Melanie Rudolf, a first-year environmental studies student and 2015 Ohio University graduate, said that she is looking forward to developing relationships and connections.

“I’m really looking forward to working with all of the amazing professors who I’ve met so far. It seems like there are a lot of different relationships that the Voinovich School fosters throughout the community and Ohio University that will be really important for my research and personal growth,” Rudolf said.

In addition to speakers and more informal learning and socializing, the event also featured a scavenger hunt to encourage students to learn about the School’s various projects. Those who completed the scavenger hunt during the event were entered into a drawing for prizes.

Second-year Undergraduate Voinovich Scholar Jessica Roth said that the scavenger hunt helped her to learn more about the school.The 2016-17 Undergraduate Voinovich Scholars

“I thought the scavenger hunt was a great way to discover different things about the Voinovich School that I, even as a second-year student, didn’t even know.”

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.