As many of alumni know, Miami regularly offers students remarkable opportunities and experiences. For Dave Todt, a 1971 Honors and Miami alumnus, one such opportunity came through his connection to an honors professor, Dr. Ethel Belk.
In the late 1960s, Dr. Belk invited Dave and the honors Botany class to have tea with E. Lucy Braun, a famous and renowned botanist, ecologist, and the first female President of the Ecological Society of America. Dave, admitting that he did not know much about the importance of this opportunity, instead opted to go play in an intramural football game. Chuckling to himself, he now reflects on this experience: “Looking back, I wish somebody had knocked me upside head and said, ‘Go to tea, not a football game!’”
This introspection serves Dave well these days, as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Shawnee State University. After graduating from Miami’s pulp and paper science program in 1971, he pursued a Master’s degree in environmental science, picked up his teaching certificate, and began a career that blends two of his passions: science and education. Dave then began working for the State of Ohio for a time, after which he taught in high school and then college at Shawnee State.
Now, as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dave makes it a point each year to encourage incoming Shawnee State students to take advantage of the types of opportunities open to them as undergraduate students… and not just intramural sports opportunities.
Dave’s advice to each class of Shawnee State students is rooted in his experience as an undergraduate student in the Honors Program at Miami. Dave notes that he really did not understand what honors was about as a first year student, nor did he appreciate how special of an opportunity it was to get to take courses with interesting faculty in small classes.
Relating his experience to the recent presidential campaigns, Dave says that he enjoys getting to tell others that he and Paul Ryan (’92) both studied economics at the same school. “Of course,” Dave adds with a laugh, “I decided economics wasn’t for me and I’ve been going in the opposite direction ever since!”
Overall, one thing Dave appreciates most about his experience at Miami was the chance to interact with so many people with such a wide range of views, opinions, and ideas. Despite his busy schedule, Dave continues to keep in touch with some of his Miami peers, and visits Oxford when he can.
Of the many fond memories Dave has from his time amongst the red bricks of Oxford, there is one that, ironically, did not stick in his mind: the result of the intramural football game. To this day, Dave cannot remember whether he won or lost the game.