Ohio Fellows Alumni Gather for Reunion and Revitalization

Members of the Ohio Fellows program with Ohio University President Emeritus Vernon R. Alden, which he created during his tenure, pose for a picture during the 50th anniversary of Dr Alden's inauguration celebration event. Photo by Patrick Traylor.

On Friday, April 27, 2012 Ohio Fellows Alumni gathered at the Vernon R. Alden Library for a fun-filled informal reunion weekend. The weekend activities included a celebration dinner with mentor, President Emeritus Vernon R. Alden, meetings to talk about their shared experience and even a bowling outing. The reunion fell on the kick-off weekend of the 50th anniversary of Alden’s presidential inauguration.

The Ohio Fellows Program (OFP) began in 1964, under the administration of Dr. Alden. Led by Alden, Leslie Rollins, John Chandler and Robert Greenleaf, this revolutionary program set out to mentor students and foster success in their lives.

“In retrospect, the OFP had quite a positive impact on my life,” said Robert Fallon (’69). “I had positive role models and opportunities to engage with faculty and professionals from many different walks of life that I would not have had otherwise.”

Members of the program weren’t selected based on GPA or academic interest. Rather the leadership team carefully reviewed applications and selected students who they felt had great potential through extensive interviews and informal discussions.

“Lots of very bright young people who looked like potential leaders [were selected],” said Dr. Alden. The program set out to develop that potential.

Those involved in the program, which existed from 1964 to 1971, attribute much of their successes to the mentorship they received while in the interdisciplinary program. Fellows alumni have gone on to highly successful careers in a variety of fields.

Now, Alden’s legacy develops even further as the Ohio University Libraries, in association with the University College, is looking to resurrect the life-changing program. Dean of the University College David Descutner, Associate Dean Greg Lester, and Dean of University Libraries Scott Seaman met with Vern Alden and many Ohio Fellows Alumni to discuss the upcoming plans for the program.

Descutner plans for the program to act as “a catalyst for self-discovery and relationship building.”

“We’ll give students [and mentors] a chance to connect in a co-curricular and professional way,” he said.

Though not all of the details of the student selection process have been defined, many of the essential elements of the original Ohio Fellows Program will remain intact, such as the involvement of strong program leaders, student internships, discussions with high profile campus guests, encouragement of diverse thinking, and the inclusion of a safe space for fellowship and discussion.

On Saturday afternoon, the Fellows continued the liveliness as they dined with current outstanding students. Animated conversations of medical advancements, politics, bird-watching and college life resounded from the Faculty Commons on the third floor of the Alden Library.

Later that evening, the Fellows gathered at the reception to celebrate Dr. Alden’s 50th anniversary. At the reception the Fellows commemorated the impact that Alden had on their lives by revealing bronze busts of Dr. Alden and his late wife, Marion. Commissioned by the Fellows and sculpted by Fellow alumnus Mike Majors, these busts are on permanent display in the Vernon R. Alden Library.