LIMA — The Ohio State University at Lima welcomed a new dean to campus on Monday, Charlene Gilbert, who was hired in June.
Gilbert said her initial plans are to get to know the campus and the community, and then to work on increasing the number of students attending OSU-Lima.
“I think there’s tremendous potential for growth,” Gilbert said. “I think we have fabulous faculty. I think that Ohio students have gone on to be incredibly successful in the local community and in the broader community and so increasing the numbers of students that get to be part of the OSU-Lima experience is one of my top priorities.”
There has been a decrease in enrollment at OSU-Lima, but that is a nationwide trend, Gilbert said, because of demographic changes, but there are more opportunities for different types of students, such as older students returning to school and veterans returning to school.
In regards to working on growing some of OSU-Lima’s programs, Gilbert said she needs to get a sense of the needs of the community and look at growing trends nationwide in fields, such as health care.
One of things that is important to Gilbert in her new position is for the university to have a growing relationship with the Lima community because OSU-Lima has resources that can be used to benefit the community, according to Gilbert.
In addition, Gilbert said she wants to make sure students are taking advantage of opportunities in the community, such as internships and volunteer work. She plans to get out in the community and meet more people; something she hopes will help her find ways for the community and for students to benefit.
Internships are essential for students, Gilbert said, so they can learn what they love, get to know people in their field, learn to transfer skills learned in the classroom to a workplace and get experience in their field. Expanding internship options is one of her priorities.
The new dean does also have the rank of professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, although Gilbert said she will be putting most of her time for the next few years into leading the campus so she will not be teaching initially.
Gilbert was drawn to this job because of her deep passion for the success of students, she said, something that extends beyond her passion for her own discipline, which led her to want a position where she could help students in more than one department.
Her concern, Gilbert said, is to make sure students succeed in school and in their future careers.
“That broader interest is what really attracted me to this position at OSU-Lima,” she said.
In addition to her new position, Gilbert, who has a background in documentary filmmaking, will be continuing work on a project about poor houses in Knox County, which she is hoping to finish this year but said that will go on the back burner for the time being because of the demands of her new position.
Before her position at OSU-Lima, Gilbert was a professor and the chair of the University of Toledo’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the founder and director of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences.
“I think that we are sort of on the path to a really exciting time and I’m really glad to be here, to be sort of part of this next chapter in the history of OSU-Lima,” Gilbert said.