Harry Wilks is certainly no stranger to Miami University, but he'll soon get to experience it from a new perspective.
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland recently appointed Wilks, a 1948 Miami alumnus, to Miami's board of trustees. He will replace Kathleen Zouhary, whose term ends this year.
A Hamilton native, Wilks said he was excited to accept the position and looks forward to returning to the Oxford campus.
"I've always had interest in Miami University," he said. "I remember everything (about it). I'm very proud of the university."
A writer for The Miami Student when he was an undergraduate, Wilks has remained involved with the university long past his graduation. He has been especially involved with the branch campuses in Middletown and Hamilton.
He is the sponsor of the Harry T. Wilks Lecture Series on the Hamilton campus and also provides the Harry T. Wilks Scholarship for students on the Hamilton branch, which is available to 15-20 full-time students.
On the Oxford campus, he is the namesake of the Harry T. Wilks Leadership Institute, which Wilks says is intended to create well-informed leaders for the rising generation.
"We need leaders all the way up to the presidency," he said. "We want leaders to make decisions based on what's important for the community."
Wilks said he is still reviewing literature about the university's current state of affairs, but already knows that some key areas such as tuition and room and board will require attention. He said one of his aims as trustee will be to help to keep costs for students as inexpensive as possible.
The chair of the board, Richard Smucker, said he was very pleased with Strickland's appointment of Wilks, as his experience with the university gives him unique insight.
"We're very grateful the governor did appoint him," he said. "Since he's familiar with the university, we think he'll hit the ground running and do a great job as a trustee."
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He may need to do just that, as Smucker also said Wilks will be joining a very active board.
"We have plenty to do for the university," he said. "He'll not be in a position where he won't have enough to do."
The next meeting for the board will be Feb. 8 and Wilks said he plans on being present so he can begin as quickly as possible. The nine members of the board serve overlapping nine-year terms.