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BG Grad named commissioner of OHSAA

Many people determine their lifelong dreams based on criteria that satisfy their personal desires. For Dan Ross, adjunct professor of Educational Administration and Supervision, his dream involves teaching people the lessons of life.

Ross has served as an administrator in Ohio for over 30 years. After graduating from Ohio Dominican University with bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and History in 1971, Ross earned his Master’s Degree in guidance and counseling from Xavier University in 1973. He served as an instructor at the University en route to completing his doctoral degree in Educational Administration and Supervision in 1983.

Along with holding teaching positions, Ross has worked as a Counselor, Production Supervisor and Principal for six school systems. He became superintendent of Patrick Henry Local Schools in 1983, before holding the same position for Pickerington Local Schools, and currently Avon Lake City Schools. Ross found out May 13 that he will not continue his administrational career next year, and will take over reigns as Commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association instead.

According to Rosemary Smith, administrative secretary to the business manager of Pickerington Local Schools, Ross will bring compassion and dedication to the OHSAA.

“They will get the benefit of his devotion to athletics and his love of students,” Smith said. “If there is a problem he will find a solution to fix it.”

For Ross, his new position will allow him to fulfill his lifelong goals. He said he believes athletics teach people things such as cooperation, camaraderie and teamwork.

“I think you can learn a lot from athletics that helps you learn a lot of life lessons,” Ross said.

Ross has had plenty of opportunities to teach those lessons to athletes. He officiated basketball, baseball and volleyball for 20 years, during which he worked five boys state basketball tournaments. His superintendent positions have enabled him to attend weekly sporting events. He said he believes those experiences allowed him to get where he is today.

“Over a lot of years I’ve been responsible for entire school programs. Part of that has been the athletic programs. The opportunity to gain knowledge by working in these programs throughout the years has certainly helped to open the door for this position,” Ross said.

The humility Ross shows toward others may have also prepared him to become Commissioner of the OHSAA. According to Ken Baker, principal of Cincinnati Wyoming High School, Ross has always shown an undaunted respect for community members.

Baker, a University graduate, was principal of Pickerington High School while Ross was superintendent of the district. He has been well aware of Ross’ compassionate personality throughout their 20 year friendship.

“He personalized everything,” Baker said about Ross’s character traits during the time they worked in Pickerington. “Everyone was important to Dan. It didn’t matter if you were the high school principal, or a bus driver. It was a large district, and he knew teachers, students and parents. Everyone knew Dr. Ross. He was a person, and not just the position.”

In particular, Ross cares a lot about the success of students. This children first philosophy may best be represented by the respect students have for him. He recently attended the prom for Avon Lake High School, and many students shed tears over the news of his departure.

From the time Smith began working on the district office staff in 1987, she recognized Ross’ determination to improve education.

“First and foremost, Dr. Ross is an educator,” Smith said. “So he was always aware and on top of what curriculum was being taught in the buildings. He wanted the students to get the best education as possible.”

According to Ross, a special relationship with students is important in forming a tight knit community. A close community results in triumphs rather than trials.

“I don’t think there’s anything better than working with students to improve their lives,” Ross said. “When you work with students and their families, it turns the school into a family, which then turns the community into a family.”

Ross has indeed affected many students lives throughout his career. According to officials from Pickerington Local Schools and Avon Lake City Schools, students from both districts have returned to visit Ross after graduation.

Todd Ellis, a retired principal of Avon Lake, became friends with Ross eight years ago. He said Ross’ sincerity when he was the principal was genuine, and students always knew they had an advocate in Ross.

“I’ve worked in five districts, and with probably seven superintendents,” Ellis said. “I’ve never been any place where so many kids come back to see a superintendent. He is sincerely loved by his kids.”

Ross is intent on allowing the lessons he learned at the university to shine through when he takes over as Commissioner of the OHSAA.

“BGSU was extremely instrumental in helping me become who I am,” Ross said. “I’ll do anything I’m able to do to make people understand what I’ve learned.”

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