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.