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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Community meets new president

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Ozarka College President, Dr. Richard L. Dawe, meets with faculty, staff and students at the Melbourne campus on July 16. A retired naval aviator captain, Dr. Dawe is excited to be a part of Ozarka College's future. Photo by Niki de Soto
New Ozarka College President, Dr. Richard L. Dawe, PhD made the rounds in the area last week, meeting students and faculty and responding to questions from the general public.

Born in West Plains, Mo., and raised in Thayer, Mo., Dr. Dawe says he really spent most of his time "south of the line" near the Spring River, around the Ash Flat, Hardy, Cherokee Village and Highland areas. He is definitely glad to be back in the Natural State.

"One of the things that I have found so appealing about Ozarka and the community here, is the personal connection with people," said Dr. Dawe. "For Ozarka, our faculty and staff connect in a very personal way with our students and you don't always see that and it's important that students feel comfortable about pursuing their higher education and just opening their eyes to the possibilities."

As far as the college programs are concerned, Dr. Dawe had some thoughts on where he'd like to see Ozarka focusing in the future.

"We're looking at working with people to determine what is most needed here in the community," said Dr. Dawe. "Certainly, we're looking at the health fields, such as radiology, dental technicians, record technicians and probably increasing our nursing program, because there's always a need for nursing."

In fact, Dr. Dawe has a close family connection o the nursing program at Ozarka College.

"My mother, actually back in 1975-76, was the first graduate from the nursing program here, and it's served her very well. She is still working at 70 as director of nursing, so I'm real proud of her and of the opportunity that Ozarka provided her," said Dr. Dawe.

Ozarka College's impact on the community is also front and center in the new president's agenda.

"I want for Ozarka to continue to be an engine of economic development. We want to continue to create opportunities for people in the region that we serve and the counties that we serve. I want not only to create some new jobs, but incentives to new businesses to start and hire our students, but also to bring in opportunities for cultural development, things that people might not typically see," said Dr. Dawe. "I want to explore the opportunities for creating a center for small business development, to encourage entrepreneurial opportunities."

Cultivating that spark that might lead to a new small business is also important to Dr. Dawe. "You know, a lot of times people can turn a hobby or a passion into a lucrative business. I'd like for our college to be there to provide the training for that. Come and get a little accounting experience, a little technical experience, maybe some businesss and marketing expertise, and just help these new businesses flourish," said Dr. Dawe.

All told, it seemed obvious that this hometown native is glad to be back to his roots.

"I am thrilled and blessed to be serving in this position; it's where my heart is. I feel like I've prepared all of my life for this position and to come back and to serve the students and citizens of the region with his great staff is an honor," he said.

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