David Descutner headshot

WOUB Member Spotlight: David Descutner

Posted on:

< < Back to

Descutner has been a member of WOUB since 1991

ATHENS, OH – David Descutner’s relationship with public media started as a child growing up along the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers in Appalachian Pennsylvania coal and steel towns.

“I lived in Crucible, Pennsylvania and then we moved to Midland, Pennsylvania,” said Descutner. “And in both of those towns we could get WQED from Pittsburgh, and that’s where I started loving public television. As I got older, I remember one of my first experiences with jazz music was on WQED. And because of that I became a fan when I was a teenager.”

Descutner went to college at Slippery Rock University in 1970 where he majored in speech, French and English. He got involved in the debate team and was eventually approached about applying to graduate school.

“I didn’t even know what graduate school was,” Descutner said with a chuckle. “But I ended up applying and went to the University of Illinois in Champaign. I loved both Slippery Rock and Illinois. I got a world-class education and met the love of my life, Lysa Burnier, on the Illinois campus.  Lysa is a full professor in the Department of Political Science at Ohio University and a national scholar who has earned multiple awards for her teaching and mentoring.”

After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees at Illinois, Descutner was offered a faculty position at Ohio University in 1979. He began his career in the School of Communication Studies.

“I discovered WOUB TV almost immediately after arriving on campus,” said Descutner. “I didn’t have much to my name at the time. I didn’t have a car. I had an old TV, and I didn’t get cable for the first month. WOUB was the only thing I could pick up. I loved public TV, so that worked out well.”

Descutner went on to serve in many different roles in the Scripps College of Communication and throughout the university. In 2001, he was appointed dean of University College and associate provost for undergraduate education. In 2009, he was named executive vice provost. Over the years, Descutner served on and led many committees, did two terms in Faculty Senate, and served twice as interim vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion. Throughout it all, Descutner appreciated the important role WOUB had in the region to provide news, information, and high-quality entertainment.

“Lysa and I love the programming on WOUB and what you can learn from it,” said Descutner. “We watch PBS NewsHour, Austin City Limits, and all the Ken Burns documentaries. We love shows like Frontline and other programs from independent producers. They are so well done. And the Black history programs from Henry Louis Gates are wonderful.”

In 2014, Descutner retired but was then recalled to serve as interim chair for the Department of Social Medicine in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and as special assistant to the executive dean. In February 2017 he was named interim president of Ohio University, a position he held until June 2017 when he was named interim provost and executive vice president. He then retired a final time in December 2017. In his university leadership positions, Descutner also valued WOUB’s role on campus providing professional development experiences for students.

“I think the media training opportunities students can get at WOUB are amazing,” said Descutner. “Students have the ability to do what they are taught in class, while working with professionals. WOUB epitomizes experiential learning for students. If you wanted a model of what a university can do with students, so they can translate what they learn inside the classroom, WOUB is it. It’s a point of pride for me.”