A Transformative Experience
In April, Orthodontic resident Lydia Lancaster, ’16 DDS, concluded two years of distinguished service as the graduate/professional student member of The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. Characterizing her time on the board as “life-changing,” Dr. Lancaster reflected on her most memorable moments during her term.
Q) What has the time you spent on the Board of Trustees meant to you personally?
A) Serving on the Board of Trustees has been nothing short of life-changing. Going into the position, I knew it was an especially unique opportunity that carried major responsibility, but I could not have fathomed how transformative the experience would be. The board experience has exposed me to a level of leadership that I did not realize existed prior, and has blessed me with lifelong relationships and professional development that I hope to utilize in my post-graduate career. It has been an incredible honor to serve at this level for this university that I love dearly.
Unequivocally, the most personal part of my board experience has been the people. From my fellow board members and the board office, to the various university and medical center leaders, I have had the opportunity to work alongside very inspiring people. They have given me examples to push myself to strive further, and they have kindly taken time out of their compact schedules to mentor me. Through the board, I have met mentors and friends that remind me of the closing song from the musical, Wicked: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” And I am confident these established relationship will last well beyond my years at The Ohio State University.
Q) What have been some of the highlights of your time on the Board of Trustees?
A) When I look back on the past two years, there have been some rather special circumstances I have been privy to because I was a board member. I had the honor of being part of Albert II, Prince of Monaco’s welcome team as he arrived in Columbus to visit the university in the fall of 2016. I attended various athletic, arts, and university events that I will always remember. University leaders, legislators, and other prominent community leaders—whom I have admired from afar prior to this term—have become personal acquaintances and even friends. Brutus even proposed to me at a football game! Needless to say, there have been many, many, fun and special memories that have enhanced and expanded what it means for me to be a Buckeye.
However, with the fun also came an immense amount of time, responsibility, and pure hard work, which I also cherished. I was proud to be able to contribute to the development, approval, and initial implementation of the university’s strategic plan, “Time and Change.” My input helped add the graduate/professional student perspective to the plan. My fellow board members valued my views on issues, and I truly believe those views were additive to the work we were doing.
One of the most special highlights of my work was being the first graduate student trustee in the state of Ohio’s history to have voting rights. Ironically, I had to abstain from my first vote due to potential conflict of interest issues, but each time I voted, the privilege was something I did not take lightly. At my first meeting, the board approved the planning phase of Postle Hall renovations. My last vote was approving the consent agenda, which included the approval to enter construction for Postle Hall. It is an exciting time for our college, and I am honored to have been able to be part of approving such incredible advancements.
Finally, I am especially proud to have represented the College of Dentistry and the dental profession in my board role. In this enormous university and health sciences academic center, dentistry is, candidly, a small part of the Ohio State enterprise. I was able to bring the college to the table, and bring to light that the Ohio State College of Dentistry is not only training excellent dentists, but also that we are the only public institution in the state doing so. Our college provides the majority of dentists serving Ohioans across the state and, to me, that’s what our land grant mission is all about—taking care of Ohioans, specifically their dental needs. And to be able to advocate and bring light to our college accomplishments university-wide, Columbus-wide, and state-wide, has been an incredible privilege.
Q) Any final words or thoughts you’d like to share?
A) Coming from rural Missouri, becoming a Buckeye has been the truest honor. I love Ohio State and the state of Ohio, and being able to serve both as a trustee has been an utmost privilege. This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of Dean Lloyd and the College of Dentistry, as balancing residency and board responsibilities has never been a small task. My family and friends cannot be thanked enough for supporting me along the way. I leave the board with more Buckeye pride than ever, knowing that our university’s leadership is in excellent hands. And as always, How firm thy friendship, Ohio!