Updated: Apr 4
Students, professors, administrators, and members of the community gathered in the Ohio Wesleyan Benes Room to listen to President Rock Jones share sentimental words at his last WCSA Town Hall meeting of his tenure on March 6.
Jones began his presentation with colorful and bright collages of OWU students smiling and laughing together at fall events in 2022.
The outgoing president then discussed numerous topics.
Photo courtesy of President Jones’s instagram.
COVID: The growth and re-ignition of student life after COVID created challenges. He highlighted the importance of community and relationships with one another and how not having this for two years had a significant impact on his own energy to serve his role.
Slocum Hall: The beautiful renovation of Slocum Hall will give the campus a place to enjoy for years to come.
OWU Connection Office: He talked about the great, worldly influence that the OWU Connection Office has not only on the university, but the life trajectory and transformation of so many students and people.
Sports: Jones spotlighted the success of fall and winter sports and also the launching of the OWU Esports and the incredible arena in Welch Hall.
Return Rate: Another note that he touched on was the significant increase in the return rate for students at OWU. Jones expressed the impact that students transferring out of OWU had on him and how he strived to make those numbers improve, to where a very high percentage of students always wanted to come back, and he did.
The people at OWU: On a more personal level, Jones recalls when he came onto campus for the first time 15 years ago. He said that one of the most important things to him was to know what the students most valued about OWU. He recalled that when he asked those students these questions 15 years ago, they said that the things they valued most were the people. Fifteen years later, Jones still stands by those students’ statement that the best thing about Ohio Wesleyan is the people and the strong, foundational mission that has endured for generations.
Reflection: Reflecting back on his time at OWU, Jones said that his highest aspirations were for the university to continue the strong liberal arts education they have been providing, to stay committed to their foundational commitment to diversity, and to continue to be designed for the sole benefit of others and their service to the world.
“Ohio Wesleyan just needs to keep getting better and better and better,” Jones said.
The final State of the University Address for Jones was closed out by questions from the audience. These questions ranged from students asking his favorite color all the way to what has changed the most at OWU during his time there.
The most prevalent question for Jones was where he was heading after OWU. He said that he and his wife, Melissa, will be moving back to Arkansas, where they were before OWU, to be near their 3 grandchildren.
Although, on July 1st, when he is officially out of office, he will be heading to the Outerbanks of North Carolina where he and Melissa love to vacation and relax.
The 15-year OWU president is now retiring and passing on the throne to newcomer, Matthew P. vandenBerg.
VandenBerg and his family are out of Presbyterian College in South Carolina. The new president has big shoes to fill in replacing Jones.
As Jones said in his speech today, it is like he is on track and is handing off the baton to vandenBerg and it is now time for him to cheer from the sidelines.