Excellence in Service: Ginny Corso


Ginny beams after accepting the Distinguished Staff Award.

Virginia “Ginny” Corso, Academic Advisor for Education, Academy, and Seniors to Sophomores programs at The Ohio State University at Mansfield, has been named a 2013 recipient of the Ohio State Distinguished Staff Award.

“I’ve never met anyone who cared more or worked harder than Ginny,” said co-worker Rick Stewart, an academic advisor on the Mansfield Campus. “She is clearly an example of someone who keeps getting better at what she does and will continue to be a valuable resource for both the students and her colleagues.”

In her 32 years with the university, Ginny has consistently identified and helped develop innovative programs to maximize new opportunities on the Mansfield Campus. Her efforts led directly to the hiring of the first fulltime Disability Specialist on campus, creation of Mansfield Staff Advisory Council, establishment of Seniors to Sophomores program, and development of educational articulation agreements, helping North Central State College early childhood education associate degree graduates transfer more easily to Ohio State Mansfield.

In addition to building and growing internal programs, Ginny has streamlined the registration processes for flexibly scheduled courses, helping accommodate Making Math Meaningful and the Dual Credit program for local school teachers. “Ginny’s contributions to our education students are critical to their success in our programs,” shared Ohio State Mansfield Associate Dean David Tovey.  “I know when individual students have faced grave obstacles including personal illnesses and family tragedies; they have sought out Ginny first, knowing she would take the time to help them.”

Corso earned her Master of Education from Kent State University and Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She earned her Mathematics Certification from The Ohio State University, and teaches college math and freshman orientation classes at Ohio State Mansfield.

The Distinguished Staff Award recognizes just 12 staff members university-wide who have had five years of continuous service, for exceptional accomplishments, leadership, and service to the university community by significantly improving or enhancing the quality of work life in ways that make a substantial difference for their colleagues; contributing to outstanding and sustained improvements in customer services; and developing creative solutions to problems that result in significantly more effective and efficient university operations. The Office of Human Resources awards honorees a $1,500 cash award and a $700 increase to their base salary.

But for Ohio State Mansfield: Scott Schag

Scott Schag

Scott Schag takes a minute out of his day in the Education Resource Room.

The Ohio State University at Mansfield was supposed to be a stepping stone to his future. Instead, Scott Schag found himself “falling in love” with campus and, in turn, found it to be a launching ground for a remarkable college career.

“I had known of it and the great value that it presented,” he explains, “But had intended on using it to gain transfer credits and then leave after a year since I was undecided.”

That first year, however, would bring something to Scott’s attention. “All of my friends who had gone away to school had bad experiences. They were in classes where the professor was never there and were being taught by a Teaching Assistant, or they were paying out the wazoo for tuition and becoming bogged down in loans.” His experience was markedly different. “I looked around and loved all of my classes, was maintaining an amazing GPA, knew my professors by name, had not accrued any debt, and really loved the community of the campus. I was hooked.”

It was not just his success that he enjoyed, it was the people who helped along the way. “Professors really take the time to make sure that you are doing well,” notes Scott, “The fact that you can approach them about issues is great! The small classes lend themselves to that amazingly well.”

Scott enjoyed his classes, and has no shortage of them to prove it. “I think I liked the campus so much that I hopped around majors in order to stay longer,” he jokes, “I changed four times from Zoology to Theatre to History to Education.” It would prove to be a combination of two of those stops that would prove to be his final destination.

Scott first got involved in theater when he was asked to help backstage during Ohio State Mansfield’s collaboration with Mansfield Youth Theater’s production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr. Scott enjoyed working with young actors and that experience caused him to enroll in a class in which he was immersed in a local classroom. He was not disappointed. Working on stage and in the classroom were so enjoyable that it would finally settle a long time question of “What should my major be?” for good.

Scott settled on an early childhood education major with a minor in theater. While the choice took time, the Shelby native could not be more sure of it. “It means the difference between a practice and a profession,” says Scott, “It affords me the opportunity to be an informed academic making a difference in every classroom and every child.”

In his 7 years on campus, Scott has been involved in a variety of things on campus and in the community. His stay has seen him as a Writing Consultant in the Campus Writing Center, a Welcome Leader for student orientations, a member of the English Club, Theatre Club, Club Ed, volunteering at local non-profits, and on stage. Scott’s most recent show, 9 to 5 The Musical, marks his 30th production. He has gone from backstage to filling roles such as the Cat in the Hat in Seussical the Musical, playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, The UPS man in Legally Blonde, and Victor Frankenstein in Playing with Fire: After Frankenstein.

When asked to name one facet of his experience in particular, he does not hesitate. “I really love working with [Theater Director and Professor] Joe Fahey. He makes everything so much fun when you’re an actor and he really cares about the experience that you have.” Scott also notes that Dr. Fahey is not afraid to act as a stand in when props are unavailable. “During one of my first shows, he was kind enough to act as a human roadblock for me to fall over repeatedly. It was frightening and hilarious at the same time.”

When he is handed his M.Ed in Education, he knows exactly where he wants to go next. “I want to teach in the New York City public school system and get involved in theatre along the way, whether performing myself or being involved in Children’s theatre.”

As he enters the world stage, Scott is preparing to become an educator just like the ones he met at Ohio State Mansfield. “I never felt that a professor didn’t want to be there. They want you to succeed!” And as a result, those professors have watched Scott do just that.

The Non Traditional Experience at Ohio State Mansfield

Written by Jason Spoon with Megan Bailey and Mindy McKenzie

The Ohio State University at Mansfield has always embraced its non-traditional students. Rochelle Jones and Heather Miller are testaments to that endeavor.

One of 15 children, Rochelle grew up poor and had little reason to hope for a college education.  Still, she refused to give up. A year ago, she enrolled at Ohio State Mansfield. Now 25, her life as a nontraditional student isn’t easy, but she is determined to make it work.  Working 24 hours a week along with a nearly full-time class load, Rochelle admits that the experience has been “beyond difficult,” but she credits the help she’s received from the regional campus for her success.

Rochelle is appreciative of the support she’s received. Whether it was a History Professor granting her extra time for an exam or an advisor keeping her grounded amid chaos, Rochelle has learned first-hand what it means to be embraced by a caring campus.  “You can talk to professors like they’re people,” she says.  And she’s not alone in her praise.

Heather Miller is 32, has four children, works 30 hours per week, and is taking six classes this semester at Ohio State Mansfield.  For Heather, the timing of her classes has proven particularly accommodating, and she says she was “truly surprised” to learn how many evening classes were offered.   As the mother of young children, she appreciates attending a flexible university and realizes that such flexibility makes pursuing her Social Work degree possible.  Still, she finds there’s more to support than simplified scheduling of classes.

While attending the Mansfield campus, Heather has benefited from caring faculty and staff.  Whenever her children are sick, the choice between caring for them and attending class is easy; fortunately for Heather, she is part of a campus community that wants nothing more than to see its students succeed.  Rochelle Jones can relate.

For both Heather and Rochelle, Ohio State Mansfield serves as a supportive partner in their future successes.  And while neither would be where she is without a strong work ethic, they would also not be here without the help of The Ohio State University at Mansfield.

Student Veterans


Written by Terry Taylor, Stephanie Maneese, Jake Furr, and Heather Smith

A primary motivation behind The Ohio State University at Mansfield students involved with the Student Veterans of America (SVA) is showing support for the brave men and women who serve our country each and every day, regardless of the time of year. The group assists military veterans with the resources and encouragement needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation.

This autumn, SVA chose Care Packages for Troops as their major service project. Deployed members of the military typically need items that cannot be bought where they are, or they crave something homemade, like cookies or candy. Giving veterans a taste of home makes them feel appreciated, whether it is a handwritten thank-you letter or a bar of soap. The Student Veterans of America understand this feeling, because each member is also a veteran or current service member.

SVA encouraged students and faculty to donate non-perishable items like toiletries, beef jerky, and trail mix and leave them in one of several donation boxes spread across the campus. The response was absolutely fantastic, and the group soon found themselves sending packages to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, the organization, led by Air Force veteran and Mansfield student Dustin White, is pushing forward to even bigger endeavors.  When asked what it means to be a member of the SVA, Dustin replied, “It means a lot. So much, in fact, that I wanted to be President of the group at Ohio State Mansfield.” Leading with an “Each One, Teach One” attitude, Dustin continued, “Putting my soldiers before myself was always my way of leadership. No one understands a military mind more than a military person.”

Returning veterans have earned our support and encouragement when they re-enter civilian life, and the Student Veterans of America at the Mansfield campus is there to help when these brave men and women come home.

But For Ohio State Mansfield: Dan Freund


At The Ohio State University at Mansfield, Dan Freund began a journey from the mold of a Midwestern factory family, to a first generation college student, to leading the transformation of his home school district. It was the mid-1960s and Dan Freund had just graduated. “I really didn’t see myself going to college when I graduated from high school. I was 17 years old, I was not really thinking college was for me,” But something changed his course.

“We had one building. It was brand new. It was Ovalwood,” reminisces Freund. The campus featured a dirt road entrance that “you needed a four wheel drive vehicle to get in and out of,” he chuckles and adds, “But again, it was brand new in 1966.”

Along with fresh bricks and mortar, Freund noted that attitude of students and faculty was something special. “There was a really great sense of excitement.” Freund noted. “We got to know each other quickly and formed friendships. We felt like we were part of something.” Freund found a foothold in those fresh beginnings that became foundational to his collegiate career.

“It was really great to have the Mansfield campus, because I could live at home, and because my family didn’t have a whole lot of money, it helped out considerably from an economic standpoint. It was very convenient for me and the high quality of teaching was pretty impressive.” As he attended class, bonds began to form and he found a home in his local campus. “You know, I still remember the names of my teachers, and they had a powerful impact on my life.” The first step in his educational journey had not taken him far from home. The next step would take him 70 miles south.

He moved to The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus and found yet another home. He enjoyed classes there, meeting new friends and professors, and before long he found himself graduating with a Bachelor’s degree. He was not quite finished, however, and returned to complete a Master’s degree in Education from Ohio State.

His professional career has taken him through local schools, first as a grad school special needs teacher, a full-time middle school teacher, a member of local administrations, and finally, as a superintendent of Mansfield City Schools.

In his superintendent post, he has been a catalyst for community change and has received high marks from several community members. At a recent school board meeting, Cheryl Carter, director of North Central State College’s Urban Center, remarked “Students have a great advocate in Dan Freund. Behind every decision he makes is the thought: Is this best for our students? I know that the vision Dan has for this district is spot on.”

Freund has also led Mansfield City Schools in forging a remarkable partnership with The Ohio State University at Mansfield. The schools have enjoyed collaboration on the Algebra Project for a number of years and now look to expand efforts into scholarship programs. As part of Ohio State Mansfield’s But For Ohio State Mansfield capital campaign, the campus is working with Freund to establish the Tyger Scholarship Fund. Designed to raise aspirations for higher education, at least twenty percent of Mansfield Senior High School graduates are expected to receive support from this new scholarship, with plans in place to expand this opportunity to even more students through ongoing collaborations with Mansfield City School District alumni. “Superintendent Freund is the ideal partner in an initiative such as this,” notes Dr. Stephen Gavazzi, dean and director of The Ohio State University at Mansfield, “He brings real world experience and an openness to new ideas that set the stage for some truly transformative work to be done.”

Asked what he plans for the future, Freund stated simply, “We really want our kids to understand that there are no limitations in terms of their futures. If they have the will to succeed there are adults in their community working hard on their behalf so that their dreams can become real.”

As his remarkable career continues, Dan Freund dares students to dream, and begin a new educational journey. In doing so, they will be following a course that has been both walked and prepared by their superintendent.



It began with a simple question: “What if a Big Ten university, a school district, and community worked together on healthy youth development?” The answer was a unique initiative called STEMpowerement.

One of the primary missions of The Ohio State University at Mansfield is to impact its local community by providing opportunity through higher education. In 2011-2012, Dr. Stephen Gavazzi, dean and director of the Ohio State Mansfield campus, charged a key group of faculty and staff to begin putting together a plan to provide access to success through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Program developers based their pilot program on the findings of Bob Moses, a noted civil rights activist, and founder of the Algebra Project. His book Radical Equations describes the power of youth movements, and necessity of access to STEM knowledge. The model he outlines in the book has been employed in dozens of cities in and around the United States and asserts that the STEM fields are gateways to social and economic success. With decades of economic upheaval in its rearview mirror, the city of Mansfield, Ohio seemed prime for such an initiative.

A few months later, STEMpowerment was born. Its mission was to provide a Learning Community for students who want to engage in opportunities for education and community improvement. Students come together in shared courses, lectures, group discussions, service learning, and study abroad opportunities. Students are also able to become mentors, and join off campus initiatives. Ultimately, students actively address real world issues, and build a better future.

Dr. Terri Bucci, an education professor who oversees much of the academic and outreach portion of the program, explains further: “This is a student-empowered learning community. The faculty provides guidance and instruction in the areas of our expertise and within the frame of empowerment of, by, and for youth. Faculty and community leaders work with STEMpowerment students in areas of leadership development, academic insights, understanding, knowledge creation, and advising for academic, research, and community organizing.”

The program’s pilot year has thrived upon a multi-disciplinary group of individuals from many academic disciplines. The program’s academic portion allows students to schedule the program’s classes alongside their major’s requirements. Such flexibility pools students from Ohio State’s 170+ majors, rather than any one major. The program’s classes brings them together in a dynamic learning atmosphere. Such a model enables the program to reach deeper levels of academic collaboration and individual skill building.

A portion of the program’s academic classes allows students to gain personal and professional development from Strengths Finder, a product of the Gallup, Inc. Strengths Finder is an interactive survey that categories abilities and characteristics of individuals into 32 key strengths areas. After completing the survey, students receive a report that identifies their top strengths. The report provides students with an understanding of their potential and further outlines action items that allow students to succeed in academic, work, and social environments.

“The first year of the STEMpowerment Leadership Gateway is focused on issues of empowerment and social justice for a community purpose,” says Director of Admissions and First Year Experience Shari Petersen, “Our goal is to help students identify their individual strengths, and then provide opportunities where these strengths can be put into action collectively with their classmates’ to make a difference in the local community and on campus.”

With that in mind, STEMpowerment hit the road. During a series of visits to area organizations, students were to take in the mission and work of each organization, and identify how their individual strengths might enhance the work at hand. Following the series of visits, their task was to turn a list of action items to enact and effect change into formal class proposals by the end of the Autumn Semester. The proposals were ultimately presented a University panel who identified the most sustainable and executable proposals.

Upon review, the panel and students identified raising awareness among area youth about how they might become involved themselves as a key next step in the process. That became the program’s work for the beginning of 2013. In conjunction with raising community awareness, the students will be reaching out to students in local high schools to develop sister STEMpowerment groups to empower and amplify those youth voices.

In the coming months, the STEMpowerment program will continue to lay the groundwork of what it hopes will become a larger, even more dynamic agent for sustainable community growth. As students go out and begin to employ their skills, they will be fulfilling a dual role of breaking new ground, and raising awareness for for innovative community driven change. Even as they just begin that journey, it has already taken the program to far away places.

In January, the voice of Ohio State Mansfield reached Ninth Annual Conference on Sustainability in Hiroshima, Japan. The conference is a knowledge community brought together by a common concern for sustainability in a holistic perspective, where environmental, cultural, economic and social concerns intersect. The very nature of the program’s work is at the forefront of sustainable culture and landed them a place for presenting at the conference. STEMpowerment student Dillion Carr, a junior from Ontario, shared an overview of innovative STEMpowerment outreach and revealed early survey results of its effectiveness. For 45 minutes, Dillion found himself presenting the young, promising program to the leading innovators, and educators from around the world.

Even for a research institution of The Ohio State University’s stature, this was a unique opportunity. Dr. Bucci notes, “Most other presenters at this conference were faculty, PhD students and graduate students from around the world. This type of activity, leadership in the academic world and in knowledge creation, is one of goals of the learning community. “

Though it has already graced a world stage, the work of STEMpowerment is just beginning. “Much of this years’ work is on developing identity of our OSU learning community and the youth connection to the Mansfield community through youth/student voices while maintaining a focus on empowerment access, change, and leadership,” notes Bucci. In the closing weeks of the semester, students will continue to go out and build on the bold mission of STEMpowerment.

And that’s exactly what Dillion loves about it: “It all revolves around us. As students and as educators, we just have to figure out what we want to do to better our lives in Mansfield and keep that lifestyle going for generations to come.”