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BGSU leader plunges right in to community

New president introduces self to businesses

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Mary Ellen Mazey, who took over the presidency of Bowling Green State University July 1, addresses businessmen at the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce at Stone Ridge Golf Club. She's already met with local economic development officials and Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, sampled the parks and golf courses, and has gotten to know the police pretty well, Ms. Mazey joked.

The Blade/Lisa Bernheim
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BOWLING GREEN -- The new president of Bowling Green State University isn't wasting any time getting to know the area.

Mary Ellen Mazey arrived July 1 and already has sat down with local economic development officials, met Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, taken her grandchildren to the parks, played golf at two local courses, and had numerous encounters with the police.

In an introduction to the business community Wednesday at Stone Ridge Golf Club, Ms. Mazey confessed in the short time she's been in town, she inadvertently set off the security system in the president's home where she now lives, locked herself out of the house, and received a parking ticket.

"Those at Bowling Green State University who know me best so far would be the Bowling Green State University police," she told more than 150 members of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce at the group's midyear meeting at Stone Ridge Golf Club.

On a more serious note, she told the group she was committed to building up the community and "all possible partnerships."

"Even though I've been here less than a month, throughout the interview process and in the first few weeks in this position, I have been very aware of the strong relationships that have been forged between Bowling Green State University and the city, the county, and the region," Ms. Mazey said.

"I want to assure you that all of us at Bowling Green State University under my watch will work hard to make sure those strong relationships and partnerships become even stronger," she said. "The university and community are very closely linked. As one goes, so goes the other."

She touted the university's leading academic programs, pointed to state and national recognition for BGSU and faculty members, and talked about the direct impact the university has on the local community. Ms. Mazey said university officials estimate the $200 million in construction projects that have been under way at BGSU generated $1 million to $1.5 million in additional tax revenue.

She said she would like to see Bowling Green increase the region's "creative economy."

"I think there's even more we can do in terms of enhancing the arts to be a part of the local economy here," Ms. Mazey said. "As I said to the mayor on a couple of occasions, we should be the Santa Fe of Ohio because people travel out there all the time."

Local officials say they're impressed with Ms. Mazey's early and apparent commitment to town-gown relations, regionalism, and economic development.

"So far, everything she's said and done has talked community," said Bowling Green Mayor John Quinn. "She's been more places in 19 days than [former BGSU President] Sidney Ribeau was in all the years he was here."

Ms. Mazey, former provost and vice president of academic affairs at Auburn University, replaced Carol Cartwright, who was hired as interim president at BGSU in 2008 after Mr. Ribeau left. He spent 13 years in the president's office. Ms. Cartwright ultimately agreed to stay on as president through the end of June.

Dick Edwards, who is unopposed in his bid for Bowling Green mayor in November, said he first got to know Ms. Mazey when he was senior vice president at Wright State University in Dayton and "she was a young, highly energetic, highly respected member of the faculty." Mr. Edwards served on the presidential search committee for BGSU and encouraged trustees to hire her.

"She really understands community and community dynamics," Mr. Edwards said. "I'm impressed with the fact that she's already been up to see Mayor Bell and spent time with Mayor Quinn. She really has a good feel for what makes communities tick."

Tom Blaha, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, said he's excited to have Ms. Mazey at the helm.

"I envision a real significant regional outreach by the university, a continuation of what we've had at least during President Cartwright's administration," he said.

Also Wednesday, the chamber of commerce presented its annual "I Love BG Award" to longtime local radio newscaster Dave Horger and presented $750 college scholarships to Eastwood High School graduate Jordan Frobose and Elmwood High School graduate Shawna McCullough. A new award -- the Small Business of the Year Award -- went to The Copy Shop, which has increased sales and added employees even during a tough economic time.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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