What Happened in Ocala?

Message to Directors

Directors,

Jo Clifford is an example of the value of networking and the results that come from having a community presence. As the Director of the Ocala campus, Jo has been relentless in ensuring Webster University stays connected to the community. And, she has done it by becoming a valuable member of that community herself. Jo's volunteerism makes her a visible asset to worthy causes in the Ocala/Marion area. Her activities, just to name a few, include Board Member of Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corporation and President of the Board, Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce.

Jo understands there is a clear link between visibility and results. That is to say, the more people know you and your organization, the greater the chances that they will seek you out to help fill their needs. And that is, after all, what outstanding educational institutions like Webster do. We fulfill the needs of people to enhance their skills and knowledge so they can succeed outside our classrooms and in their professions.

When Jo invited me to come to Ocala as the featured speaker in what has become an annual Director's Speaker Series, I readily accepted the invite to support her. It was the ultimate professional development seminar. The turn out was impressive by all standards and included more than 100 professionals from the military, allied health, municipal government, manufacturing and education sectors. The session began at 8:00am with continental breakfast and at 8:30am sharp Jo welcomed the participants and took the opportunity to convey to the audience that this event is an extension of what Webster University is all about.

Every participant received a care package of information on Webster's graduate offerings and encouragement to consider these programs. My 3-hour presentation started at 8:45am and easily segued into a luncheon which included the mayor of Ocala, Randy Ewers. Mayor Ewers took time at this point to validate the importance and role of Webster in the Ocala community, even describing Dr. Clifford as "my favorite professor". The mayor went on to say that Jo understands what's important and what is needed to be successful professionally. That, coming from an engineering graduate of the University of Florida and leader in the Ocala/Marion community, validated Jo's stature and respect in the area.

Let me end now with a simple point - what Jo Clifford is doing in Ocala is a good example of what we need to see more of throughout all our Webster campuses. We need to extend our presence into the communities where our Webster sites call home and offer regular professional development seminars to our neighbors and that potential student base. Jo did that this month, In 2006, Laura Ward, director of the Springfield campus, organized a successful session there.

When can I come to your town for yours?