By Bradford Sherman
South Centers celebrated three decades of responsive research, education, entrepreneurial application, and collaborative partnerships in Southern Ohio with an impressive roster of honored guests as part of a special celebration event held in September 2021.
Ohio State University President Dr. Kristina Johnson headlined a list of speakers that also included Dr. Cathann Kress, Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and OSU Extension Director Jackie Wilkins. The goal of the event was to heighten the profile of The Ohio State University in this region of the state through interacting with an audience consisting of local stakeholders, legislators, organizational leaders, staff, and community members.
Held primarily outdoors under a 1,600 square foot tent to comply with COVID protocols, the event also included a banquet catered by Mike Allering of All Seasons Catering, program updates, tours of the facilities, and a special presentation honoring four employees who have been at South Centers since it opened in 1991.
“We greatly enjoyed our guests, representing many partnerships with many organizations across the region and state, and especially appreciated the president of our university, as well as the dean of our college and associate deans being with us all at the same time,” said South Centers Director Dr. Tom Worley.
“This was a great opportunity for all of our guests to learn more about the depth of our programs, as well as meet our excellent staff members who lead these programs.”
During her speech, CFAES Dean Kress spoke about the 1,400 staff, 3,500 students, 47,000 animals, and 12,000 acres across 88 counties that help comprise the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
“We are one college across 3 campuses, with our faculty research, teaching, and Extension all dedicated to one single purpose – we sustain life,” Kress said.
“CFAES is literally both the cornerstone college of our university and it is also the cornerstone of sustaining human life on Earth because of our disciplines. Today I am so happy to be here at the South Centers as we celebrate an important milestone for our college – 30 years of success, impact, innovation and partnership – living our land grant mission as an important part of our statewide campus.”
President Johnson expanded on the Dean’s message, calling South Centers a “perfect example of that cornerstone.”
“The Ohio State University South Centers is that perfect example of that cornerstone because of all the service to Ohioans that you do, using research to enhance the quality of life of Ohioans and equipping people with knowledge and skills they need to thrive and providing economic development tools and collaborative partnerships to our communities,” Johnson said.
“We solve problems – that is what Ohio State University has done for 150 years. Land grant universities like ours are uniquely positioned to solve the major challenges facing our society.
“I believe that with the help of CFAES, South Centers, Extension, and external partners – we can be that absolute model of what a 21st century land grant university is, and that is by committing to excellence in academics, research, entrepreneurships, partnerships, and most importantly, service.”
The event provided an ideal opportunity to recognize the longest serving members of the South Centers staff – Marsha Amlin, Wayne Lewis, Dean Rapp, and Duane Rigsby. Each were presented with an Ohio State football jersey with the number 30, along with their name printed across the back.
“At the heart of our center is a dynamic team of employees who demonstrate and develop leadership, facilitate technology advancement, educate and expand businesses, and help people to be the best that they can be while conveying an image of respect, helpfulness, responsiveness and the ability to assist in solving problems,” said Worley.
“This group of folks, they are the originals, they were here from the beginning. We wanted to make special recognition of all the contributions they have made over the many, many years.”
Among the others in attendance were several elected state and federal officials or their representatives, county commissioners, economic development professionals, OSU Extension leadership, college and university leadership, leadership from other nearby higher educational institutions; South Centers Liaison Committee members; local small business owners and partners; OSU South Centers Staff; and community leaders and members.
The Ohio State University South Centers enhance southern Ohio by assisting people with informed decision-making through responsive research, education, entrepreneurial application, and collaborative partnerships. We are a leading, respected contributor to the land grant mission of The Ohio State University.
Our research and extension programs are designed to promote, develop, and support innovative and profitable enterprises though integrating research and education. Agricultural Programs include: Aquaculture Research and Development; Commercial Horticultural and Specialty Crops; Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources.
The Business Development Network offers innovative research, learning opportunities, technical assistance, and a network of resources for business owners and managers, entrepreneurs, youth, community leaders and educators, and elected officials. Business Programs include: Endeavor Center Business Incubator; Small Business Development Center; Manufacturing Extension Partnership; CFAES Center for Cooperatives; Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing.