When Dr. Marysz P. Rames takes the stage for her inauguration as the 13th president of Wayne State College on April 29, she will do so as a direct product of her passion, her family, and the support of mentors, colleagues, and close friends over the years.
“I was drawn to a career in education at an early age, properly inspired by the classic work on child therapy, Dibs in Search of Self, and an even more influential older sister. While my passion changed from teaching to student affairs, I knew from my first job until now that I had found a profession that fit my passion to support students in reaching their goal of attending college and completing their degree in an area that feeds their passion.”
Rames began her work as president of Wayne State in July 2015 after approval by the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees at its June meeting. She came to Wayne State from Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., where she had served as interim president since Aug. 15, 2014.
Much like many Wayne State students and graduates, Rames was a first-generation college student. She earned her education doctorate in adult and higher education in 1997 from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. She earned her bachelor of science degree in business administration and communication studies, with a minor in economics, in 1982, and her master’s degree in educational administration in 1986, from University of Northern Colorado, in Greeley, Colo.
“Family and friends have taught me the importance of being gracious, thankful, ethical, and committed. I was raised in a military family,” Rames said. “My dad was in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years. We were a small family of four (mother, father, sister and myself). My parents believed strongly in the importance of the family and we relied heavily on each other. We have always supported each other during difficult times and been there for each other to celebrate the milestones in our lives. My sister and I are both first generation college students, so I understand and appreciate the many obstacles a first generation student faces. Success in my career is directly linked to the encouragement and support of family, mentors, professional colleagues, and close friends over the years.”
Her career has been marked by promoting strong shared governance, championing strategic plans, and actively raising funds to increase scholarships. Rames’ 15 years as vice president for student affairs at South Dakota State University in Brookings provided her with invaluable experience leading enrollment management efforts, overseeing fiscal management, building collaborative partnerships, and increasing efficiency and effectiveness for students.
“I have spent nearly nine months listening to Wayne State students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends,” Rames said. “I have come to know firsthand that Wayne State provides a personalized, quality educational experience while remaining affordable and accessible. We have an opportunity to expand this gateway of opportunity for more students.”
Her plans for the future of Wayne State build on what she sees as the foundation of the college.
“Our regional focus positions us to strengthen partnerships with the community colleges, area school districts, and businesses and industry; increase our engagement with alumni and friends of the institution; and engage additional partners in our effort to serve Northeast Nebraska workforce and economic development,” Rames said.
Achieving these goals, she said, requires resources and the willingness to make tough decisions.
“I lead by the principles of mutual respect and support,” Rames said. “I empower staff to be creative, innovative problem solvers who involve stakeholders and are transparent decision-makers. High expectations and honest feedback paired with resources and ideas will absolutely move us forward. This approach creates a collegial environment that drives collaboration and cooperation to build strong, supportive, and trusting relationships.”
In preparation for her inauguration, Rames explored Wayne State’s past to gain insights from the college’s former leaders and graduates. She found inspiration in the words and life of John G. Neihardt, who graduated from Nebraska Normal College (now WSC) in 1897. Neihardt went on to become a distinguished author and the Poet Laureate of Nebraska, among other literary accomplishments.
“John Neihardt, in a 1925 letter to the Neihardt Club in Wayne, wrote: ‘If at any time, in anything that bears my name, you have felt more keenly than usual how human life, for all the hurt and pity of it, is shot through and through with a justifying glory, then you have met the best of me.’ In the spirit of his sentiments, which for me express the timeless value of a Wayne State education, I asked for my inauguration to honor Neihardt’s legacy as a tribute to our beginnings, and a nod to the power of what we do as a college,” Rames said.
“Education is a justifying glory,” Rames continued. “Our movement through the educational process, which Neihardt described beautifully as ‘not an end, but rather an endless process, a manner of becoming,’ is a cycle repeated thousands of times as we engage students in the transformational process of not just earning a degree but capturing the ability to learn for a lifetime, to constantly improve their understanding of the world, and, by doing so, change the world around them.”
Rames drew parallels between Neihardt’s time at the college and the lives of many of Wayne State’s students and alumni.
“Let us remember, Neihardt came to this college as a young man without the means to fund his education beyond tenacity and the courage to embark upon a journey that proved to be transformational not just for him personally, but for the many people who have since gained powerful insights into the Midwest and its inhabitants through his poetry and prose,” Rames said.
“Neihardt rang the college bell every hour of the school day as payment for his education and repaid Professor James Madison Pile, the founder of our college, by making an indelible mark on the world,” Rames continued. “And the beauty of Wayne State College is that each class sends a new generation of bell-ringers out into the world: students who worked their way through school and who have gone on to become business and community leaders, medical professionals, teachers, soldiers, and parents, all of whom serve as powerful examples of knowing what to do with life when, as Neihardt said, we are in possession of the means to live it.”
The public is invited to join Wayne State students, faculty and staff for the inauguration of Dr. Rames at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 29 in Ramsey Theatre in the Peterson Fine Arts Building. A public reception will follow the ceremony. To learn more about inauguration, visit wsc.edu/inauguration.
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