From the Dean

You should be aware that Ohio State Mansfield has an exceptional faculty, with nearly all having the terminal degree in their field. They also are recognized frequently for their commitment to research and service responsibilities, both in the community and abroad.

Steven Joyce, associate professor of German, is one of 10 university-wide faculty members to be awarded the 2014 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. Joyce developed a study abroad program in Corfu, Greece, Mansfield’s first study abroad with a humanities emphasis. Joyce joins Joseph R. Holomuzki (2011), John Thrasher (1999), Deborah Bainer (1996), Thomas Foster (1993), James McCleod (1991), Janet Torino (1990) and Ted Dahlstrand (1983) as past recipients of this prestigious award from the Mansfield campus.

Sergei Chmutov, professor of Mathematics, received the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Faculty Service Award for his work with Math Honors students in his summer program in Columbus entitled “Knots and Graphs.” Those students have given talks at prestigious undergraduate conferences, received Goldwater Awards and published their work in research journals.

Lee McEwan, Mathematics professor, and Terri Bucci and Michael Mikusa, Mathematics Education professors received a $203,789 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents to provide an Algebra Project-based professional development program for kindergarten through fifth grade teachers in the Mansfield City and Lucas Local School Districts.

Rachel Bowen, assistant professor, Political Science, was recently notified that she has been nominated for a Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Students participating in the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum nominated Bowen for the award. She will find out later this month at the forum if she is an award winner.

These awards across disciplines demonstrate the commitment our faculty has to their scholarship and to our students and community. Congratulations!

Stephen M. Gavazzi, Ph.D.

Four chosen for prestigious Denman Forum

Tanesha Gardner-cropped

Tanesha Gardner

Senior, History
Mentors: Dr. Mollie Cavender and Dr. Heather Tanner

Ruffs, Slashes, & Farthingales: Fashion at the Court of Elizabeth l
My project is on Elizabethan Court Fashion. I look at how the fashion of the nobility changes when Queen Elizabeth I takes the throne.

Research is an integral part of being a History major and eventually a working Historian. Being able to do a large scale research project was a great opportunity to put my skills to the test.

I have loved every second I’ve been at Ohio State Mansfield! The small campus life lends itself to creating lasting relationships with peers and professors.

Leah Schwechheimer-cropped

Leah Schwechheimer

Junior, Biology
Mentors: Dr. Carol Landry

White Mangrove Pollination

The study is an investigation of reproductive barriers between two closely related, co-flowering Croton species on San Salvador Island, The Bahamas.

This project has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about scientific investigation and the process of experimentation, as well as get some experience doing field work.

I believe that study-abroad programs are extremely important for students to discover new places, people, and cultures, as well as learning about the projects they are studying.

Collin Sipe

Collin Sipe

Senior, History
Mentors: Dr. Mollie Cavender and Dr. Heather Tanner

Death, Silk, And Spices: The Issue of Gentleman Merchants and the Policies of the English East India Company

My experiences in research have increased my confidence in my work and academic studies, as well as provided me with networking with both fellow students and established academic scholars.

Ohio State Mansfield’s most important attribute has been it’s amazing professors, who allow  students to explore their interests while providing support and encouragement that inspire them to reach new levels of academic success and personal growth.

Sam Ulrich-cropped

Samantha Ulrich

Junior, Public Affairs
Mentor: Dr. Rachel Bowen

The Arab Spring: A Clash with Principle or another Unexpected Wave of Democratization?

My project seeks to discredit a school of thought in political science which states that Catholic, Buddhist, or Islamic nations cannot neither create nor maintain a democratic government.

I have gained so much from this experience – research skills, confidence in my own capabilities, and a mentor.

This has been an amazing opportunity for me not only because of Dr. Bowen’s research knowledge, but for her ability to mentor me as a law school hopeful.

Professors receive grant to provide math professional development to local school districts

IMG_3240

Teachers from the Mansfield City School District interact with math camp elementary students at last summer’s professional development training. Teachers learned to integrate Algebra Project-based curriculum into their lesson plans.

Three professors from The Ohio State University at Mansfield will be teaching math to elementary teachers this summer through a $203,789 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents. The grant will provide an Algebra Project-based professional development program for kindergarten through fifth grade teachers in the Mansfield City and Lucas Local School Districts.

The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program is funded under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The purpose of the program is to increase the academic achievement of all students by helping schools and school districts improve teacher, instructional paraprofessional and principal quality.

The funding comes at an opportune time for the Mansfield schools, who just declared a fiscal emergency.

“We’ve been doing professional development but on a shoestring budget,” said Betsy Alexander, executive director of state and federal programs for the school district. “This program will help us accomplish our main goal, which is to improve the academic achievement of our students.”

“CAMP: Collaborative Applications of Mathematics Pedagogy” is the collective effort of Lee McEwan, Mathematics professor, and Terri Bucci and Michael Mikusa, Mathematics Education professors.

“Most students think algebra is incredibly hard and utterly useless,” McEwan said. “We are working with elementary teachers to dispel that myth at an early age.”

In a recent report from the Ohio Board of Regents, 50 percent of Lucas Local School District graduates entering college and 48 percent of Mansfield City graduates required remedial math classes before they could begin college math courses.

The highly successful national Algebra Project, which McEwan has led locally for more than five years, works with high school students in the bottom quartile of their class, providing double the number of math classes throughout their four years of high school, with the goal to make them college-ready in math. McEwan’s first cohort is now entering college.

The recent extension integrates Algebra Project methods and philosophy into kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum. Bucci and McEwan expanded the high school work by providing professional development, lesson study, and working with Mansfield Mathematics Teacher Leaders in grades K-8. The MTL’s worked with Bucci last summer on a pilot of the camp and lesson study program. That work led to the successful grant for a continued and expanded version of the work.

This is the second year the summer math camp has been offered. The program has expanded to include a year’s worth of professional development with course credit through Ohio State.

Elementary teachers will attend one week of intensive coursework, followed by one week of summer lesson study connected to a math camp for district students. Teachers design lesson plans based on Algebra Project curriculum, then use the plan to teach during a summer camp, with other teachers silently observing. After the class, teachers discuss the interaction and offer feedback.

“The focus is to provide teachers with an opportunity to see the practices learned through their course in action with children,” Bucci said.

The professors will provide monthly follow-up professional development at the schools, culminating in a conference to showcase teacher growth and student work, with the goal to create inter-district professional learning communities.

“The camp was very successful last year,” Alexander said. “Our teachers who went through it really got to analyze a math lesson in its entirety and with that, they gained confidence. So to continue it with the money that Ohio State Mansfield has been able to retrieve through this Board of Regents funding is just phenomenal.”

Bucci is eager to work with Lucas schools this year. “There were 12 math teachers interested in the program in the preview session from such a small district. That just floored me,” Bucci said.

The key to preparing students for college, the professors say, starts with enabling teachers to create programs “where students can be mathematicians rather than receptacles of mathematics.” Local school districts make a huge investment in terms of time and training in Algebra Program teachers, McEwan said.

“It will take a generation of teachers to make this work,” McEwan said. “But the most phobic teachers are now the most passionate.”

Engineering program gets boost from endowment

Engineering student Connor Wood studies in the state-of-the-art engineering lab at Ohio State Mansfield.

Engineering student Connor Wood studies in the state-of-the-art engineering lab at Ohio State Mansfield.

Ohio State Mansfield is a step closer to offering a four-year engineering degree with a $75,000 endowment from the Hire Family Foundation, as well as a national technical assistance grant from the Ohio Board of Regents to help bolster science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Ohio is one of five states to receive the national Complete College of America Award from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The endowment will fund the Jack Hire Engineering Scholarship, the first engineering scholarship to be awarded at Ohio State Mansfield.

To enhance student retention and retain talented graduates in north central Ohio, the Business & Industry Internship Program for Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College is in its second year of placing students in area industries, including Stoneridge, formally Hi-Stat, which was founded by Jack Hire. A growing number of engineering students entering the four-year degree program locally will benefit from the newly established scholarship fund .

The regional campus is in its third year of offering freshman- and sophomore-level Fundamentals of Engineering, the same core courses engineering students take at the Columbus campus. Thanks to support by Kokosing Construction Company and others, the courses are taught in a state-of-the-art laboratory classroom. Students build upon a pre-calculus and calculus foundation to develop fundamental technical skills to prepare for advanced coursework in any engineering major.

In the near future, Ohio State Mansfield expects the program to expand to allow local students to complete a bachelor’s degree in at least one specific engineering field from start-to-finish on the Mansfield campus.

Through the technical assistance grant, NC State advisors will help students identify and be successful in essential STEM courses in order to advance in their engineering major and then continue toward a bachelor’s degree at Ohio State Mansfield.

The power of regional campuses

Noraisa Jones, left, a Respiratory Therapy student at Ohio State Mansfield, receives information about the Writing Center from writing consultant Katherine Nixon. Individual attention is one reason students are drawn to regional campuses.

Noraisa Jones, left, a Respiratory Therapy student at Ohio State Mansfield, receives information about the Writing Center from writing consultant Katherine Nixon. Individual attention is one reason students are drawn to regional campuses.

Ohio State’s regional campuses are quickly becoming the destination of choice for students throughout Ohio. Affordability, excellence in teaching, small class sizes and opportunities for research and internships draw students.

“By design, we are a small liberal arts educational setting,” said Ohio State Mansfield Dean and Director Stephen Gavazzi. “We are an extension of Columbus, yet we play a vital role in the university’s land grant mission by offering accessibility through open enrollment.”

Students may complete one of eight bachelor’s degrees offered at Ohio State Mansfield—Business, Criminology, Education, English, History, Psychology, Social Work or Sociology, or start at Mansfield and transition to the Columbus campus after a year or two.

For most students, it’s the small class sizes taught by award-winning faculty rather than grad students that is the main draw. The entire faculty at Ohio State Mansfield has obtained terminal degrees; 97 percent hold doctorate degrees. Many are conducting groundbreaking research in addition to teaching classes.

“I’ve been in contact with some really great teachers,” said Nick Stevens, a senior majoring in History. “Instructors are more accessible. You can go to their offices whenever you want and that’s really helpful.”

Gavazzi also points to an excellent student support system, from Admissions and Advising to the writing and math labs that gives students a jumpstart to college life.

“It’s the friendliness of the Admissions and Advising staffs, the intimacy of contact between faculty and students, the high-touch environment that our student support services can give, that many students list as reasons they choose a regional campus, and in particular, Ohio State Mansfield,” Gavazzi said.

For many students, cost also plays a factor in the choice to attend a regional campus. Tuition at the regional campuses is $7,140 full-time for two semesters, $3,000 less than the cost at Columbus campus. Factor in nearly $11,000 in savings a year by living at home rather than in a dorm and it’s significantly more affordable.

Students from throughout Northeast Ohio are choosing Ohio State Mansfield. Cuyahoga County accounted for 16 percent of new students last fall. Crystal Brown, a business major from Cleveland, likes the hometown feeling of the campus.

“I chose Ohio State Mansfield because I wanted to be a part of a small campus where I could connect better with those around me. In a small class setting, I have the chance to speak up and engage. I also have a chance to get better advising and guidance when I need it,” she said. “Although to others it may seem ‘just an OSU regional campus,’ Ohio State Mansfield feels like home!”

Students learn the value of service

Ohio State Mansfield Education students Mellissa Johnson, left, and Paige Poffenbaugh show some of the debris that students at Eastern Elementary School in Lexington found in a Clearfork tributary. The duo created the service learning project for the students.

Ohio State Mansfield Education students Mellissa Johnson, left, and Paige Poffenbaugh show some of the debris that students at Eastern Elementary School in Lexington found in a Clearfork tributary. The duo created the service learning project for the students.

By including service learning in his curriculum, an Ohio State Mansfield professor has created some unique local opportunities for his students.

Christian Winterbottom, assistant professor of Education (Teaching and Learning), received a grant from the Ohio State Service Learning Initiative last year to restructure a class in early childhood pedagogy to collaborate with local agencies. The idea was to teach Education students to incorporate service learning components into their curriculum. Students collaborated with the Richland County Development Group and United Way to identify potential community partners.

Ohio State Mansfield students paired up and completed several projects at area schools, including coordinating a clean-up day of a river near Lexington’s Eastern Elementary School.

“They were designing a science-themed module collecting fish and wildlife in the river, when they realized it was full of tires and cans and bottles,” Winterbottom said. “They pulled a lot of trash out of the river. It was a huge success.”

Some students partnered with the United Way Big Red Bookshelf project. In conducting research for the project, they found that some children in Richland County didn’t have access to books. They put bins around the Mansfield campus and in the community to collect books. They constructed a red bookshelf to give to United Way to house the books.

“They received so many books, just thousands of books,” Winterbottom said.

Another group partnered with Shelby Mayor Marilyn John on a similar project and donated the books to elementary schools.

At Madison, one group focused on collecting canned food to be distributed for Thanksgiving.

“A lot of children in that area are underprivileged, so it was interesting to see them give back something to other children who are also in a similar position,” Winterbottom said.

Another group at Lexington wrote letters to troops in Afghanistan.

“It is hard to get middle school students to write, in general, but when it’s something that’s really important to them, they write pages and pages,” he said. “And they write about things that are personal to them that you wouldn’t normally get to see.”

Winterbottom will teach a pure service learning class this fall, open to all students, where students learn to plan and implement a service learning project themselves.

“I’m really looking forward to starting that on this campus,” he said.

 

Susan Delagrange: Digital Pioneer and Professor

SONY DSC

Her path to premier scholarship is not what one might call a traditional one. After earning her MFA in English, from Akron in 1971, Susan Delagrange went on to pursue a career as an architectural painter. A chance phone call almost 20 years later, would take her from painter to pioneer in an emerging field.

“Interestingly enough, I came to Ohio State Mansfield by accident,” laughs Dr. Susan Delagrange, “A friend called to say that the campus needed somebody to teach a first year writing course.” Dr. Delagrange joined the staff at Ohio State Mansfield in  1994 as Writing Center Director and Administrator of the First Year Writing program in 1996. Shortly after she began, she made a choice that would change everything. She took a course.

“It had been almost 30 years since I had done University teaching and I thought I would go back and take a course or two to refresh me on new ways of looking at and teaching of writing and rhetoric.” She notes, “And I’m afraid I was hooked. I applied to a graduate program and received my Ph.D. in 2005.”

Dr. Delagrange achieved a Ph. D. in English with specialization in rhetoric and composition. She moved from an instructor to become a member of Ohio State’s tenure track faculty and began to explore the area of digital rhetoric, which is writing created and distributed in digital mediums.

Shortly after joining Ohio State’s faculty, Dr. Delagrange set out on a unique project. The project was focused on rhetoric and the digital “I wrote it off and on for four years.” she notes, “As I was writing it, I knew that it was different from other things that I had read on the topic of visual of visual inquiry and argument. When I became a faculty member, I decided that I was not going to put off this digital project – this idea that we can use visual argument in a way that is as rigorous and valid as we argue with words.”

The study was new, and, in fact, the newly minted professor feared it might be too new.  Delagrange explains, “One of the problems images have always had is people think, ‘Well, it is an emotional argument, and therefore’ And yet it is. It can be and that is what I set out to prove.”

That apprehension was not to last long. Portions of work were presented as conference papers and were met with widespread enthusiasm. When her research was compiled into a digital book entitled Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World,  it was not just good by the field’s standards, it considered by many to be ground-breaking. “This is a rich, smart text and a delightful read;” reviewed Dànielle DeVoss, professor of rhetoric at Michigan State University, “It will offer much for us to wrestle with, consider, and attempt to enact in the coming years, as the field’s understandings of and approaches to visual rhetoric become ever more nuanced.”

Experts in the field have also taken notice. The book received Computers and Composition’s 2012 Distinguished Book Award, and The Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award from The Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. In March, the book earned the 2013 Conference on College Composition and Communication Outstanding Book Award, which is considered the top award for scholarship.

In addition to her research, Dr. Delagrange also teaches students to produce visual arguments and how to analyze them. Her students on the Mansfield campus enjoy courses that are, in part, studio courses. In addition to writing essays and research papers, students find themselves producing public service announcements, and digital documentaries, and other digital projects.

When asked about the best part of her work. Dr. Delagrange is quick to respond. “ It may be cliché to say ‘the people,’ but I love the students at Mansfield. It’s one of the reasons that I stayed when I earned my Ph.D. I decided that the student population had been such fun to work with for the previous 15 years that I wanted to stay. Ohio State Mansfield is a great place to teach young men and women.”

STEMpowerment

STEMpowerment

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.”