First day message to the Oglethorpe community

July 1, 2020

Dear Oglethorpe Community,

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

As I begin the presidency as a new member of the Petrel family, I have been impressed with the resilience, perseverance, and outstanding efforts of students, faculty, staff, parents, board members, alumni, and our friends over the past few months. All exemplify our university’s motto, Nescit Cedere, those who do not know how to give up.

I thank President Larry Schall for his gracious support during my transition and for leaving the university in a place of strength and well-positioned for the future. I also inherit a notably strong leadership team, whose expertise in matters of student services, academics, finance, and communications has been evident. Moreover, Oglethorpe has continued to demonstrate excellence in teaching and student engagement, even as we have moved to new formats of teaching, learning, and connecting. Great educators rise to the occasion, and your commitment and ingenuity have been actively on display.

There is so much that makes the Oglethorpe community special: our diverse, compassionate, creative, and innovative students; our deeply engaged faculty; and our dedicated staff. As a higher education leader, there are three core values that I aspire to demonstrate: (1) building relationships and facilitating voice among members of the Oglethorpe community, (2) demonstrating a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and (3) reinforcing a culture of innovation and creativity.

As I begin my journey, my first priority is to listen to and learn from all members of our university community. I want to hear about your experiences, hopes, and aspirations for Oglethorpe University. To that end, I will be scheduling a listening and learning tour to hear from all of you. I am committed to hearing the voice of all members of the university community and providing regular communications and transparency about our campus.

There are challenges facing higher education that must be addressed, and we are committed to meeting these challenges head on and finding solutions that continue to demonstrate why Oglethorpe University is a place for students to thrive. In relation to the pandemic, we are committed to conducting ongoing assessments, providing campus enhancements, and enacting community guidelines to keep our campus safe. We will continue to send weekly updates with information about the fall semester. We also recognize that the best learning takes place when students and faculty are meaningfully connected and engaged, and we are determined to foster this engagement whether classes are in-person or conducted remotely.

We continue to witness racial injustice in our country and in our community. I will continue to affirm that Black Lives Matter and work to foster critical dialogue and action to promote racial equity and justice. Our work in the classroom and in our community allows us to be part of needed social change.

Building on our history, we must persist in strengthening Oglethorpe’s commitment to supporting and amplifying diverse voices and constructing environments that are inclusive. Every decision on our campus must be made with a critical lens that seeks to promote representation and justice. With this core value in mind, I have formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce, whose primary charge is to examine areas for growth and determine action steps for the future. To honor and ensure stakeholder voice, representatives from faculty, staff, and students will serve as members of this critically important taskforce. I’m pleased to announce and thank the members: Dr. Kendra King Momon (chair), Brian Coldren, Dr. Janelle Pham, Taylor Roberts, Tanya Thompson, Dr. Matt Wild, and Dr. Katherine Zakos.

Oglethorpe is an exciting place in which to be a student and in which to work. It is on our campus that the joy of connection, the thrill of discovery, and transformation of the self is possible every day. And that is something truly special.

I am tremendously optimistic about our future, and I look forward to meeting all of you and serving as the 17th President of Oglethorpe University.



Nicholas Ladany, Ph.D.
President, Oglethorpe University