KENTON — Ohio State University’s new provost and executive vice president, Bruce McPheron, returned to his alma mater, Kenton High School, with a message to students to expect a lifetime of learning.
“Whatever pathway you choose, you’re not done with school when you’re done with school,” McPheron, a 1972 graduate, told about 400 Hardin County juniors and seniors who had assembled in the Wildcats’ gymnasium for his visit. “I know you may not want to hear that.”
He said high school graduates today are likely to change careers about 10 times in their lifetime.
“And every time you change jobs, you’re going to have to learn new skills,” he said.
About 400 juniors and seniors from the Kenton, Ridgemont, Hardin Northern and Upper Scioto Valley school districts attended McPheron’s talk. They filled up the visitors’ section of the gymnasium bleachers, causing McPheron to reminisce about his time playing basketball for the Wildcats.
“Our team was so bad,” he said, standing before the students at a lectern set up on the gym floor, “that his is what the visitors’ stand looked like and this” — he gestured toward the closed bleachers on the other side of the gym — “was what our home team looked like.”
But McPheron said he was “basically a nerd,” who took advanced calculus and carried a slide rule on his belt.
“You know what those are, right?” he asked. “You can Google it later.”
McPheron told students his path to a career in higher education began with an interest in bugs.
“I studied to be an entomologist,” he said.
He said he took advantage of opportunities in the community, like 4-H, to assist him in reaching his goals. He urged them to do the same.
“Many employers care less about what you got a degree studying versus whether you’re someone who can come in and work with a team,” he said.
McPheron became provost and executive vice president of Ohio State University in June, after serving in an interim capacity for six months.
“I’m the mayor of Ohio State,” he told students by way of explaining what a provost does as the chief administrator of the university’s academic programs.
He encouraged students to consider attending OSU. Applications are due Feb. 1. Tuition is $10,000 a year for Ohio residents to attend the main campus in Columbus, and $7,000 at one of the university’s branch campuses.
“I want to go to the branch here for sure, for a couple of years to save money,” said Kenton senior and aspiring dentist Madison Blevin, 17, who spoke with McPheron after his talk.
Before his appointment at OSU, McPheron was the dean of Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences for three and a half years. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from OSU and his Master of Science and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois.
“It’s not every day that people who are big deals and awesome speakers come through Hardin County,” said Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, who introduced McPheron to the student assembly. “We want to bring to you amazing people who are also alumni of Hardin County.”
McPheron concluded his trip to the area with a faculty forum at OSU’s Lima campus and a reception with Gift of Education scholarship recipients and donors at the City Club in downtown Lima.
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or Twitter, @lima_eddings.