Dean’s Report April 4, 2014

Dear Ohio State Mansfield Colleagues,

Beyond any doubt, the headline news for these past two weeks has to be Steven Joyce being given The Ohio State University Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. This is the highest instructional honor that anyone can receive at our university, and it is richly deserved. The testimony from students and faculty peers alike is unequivocal in its judgment of the impact that Professor Joyce makes to the classrooms of Ohio State Mansfield. Heartiest of congratulations!

We witnessed another component of teaching excellence that gets wedded to scholarship efforts vis-à-vis our students’ participation in the Denman Undergraduate Student Research Forum. Congratulations go out to Ohio State Mansfield students Tanesha Gardner, Leah Schwechheimer, Collin Sipe, and Samantha Ulrich, who were selected to showcase their research last Wednesday on the Columbus campus. I witnessed each of these students’ projects firsthand at the Denman show, and I must say that each and every presentation made during the poster session was nothing less than spectacular. The enthusiasm and knowledge base put on display by our students was extremely impressive. And behind every budding student scholar is a dedicated faculty member putting in countless hours of mentoring. This year’s students were provided exactly this sort of expert guidance and feedback from Rachel Bowen, Mollie Cavender, Carol Landry, and Heather Tanner. Many thanks to these faculty mentors for their ongoing efforts to foster such rich scholarship experiences for our Mansfield students!

Decision-making about faculty and staff positions

We finally have been given the go-ahead to make our leading EDT&L candidate an offer at the rank of full professor. We are compiling the paperwork and hope to have the formal offer to the candidate in the very near future. Interviews for the EEOB position have wrapped up this week, and it is now safe to say that we attracted three exceptionally impressive candidates. Many thanks to Carol Landry for leading this Search Committee, and thanks as well to everyone who attended the candidate talks and gave feedback!

Development of majors, destination programs, and other academic offerings and issues

Yesterday, our campus witnessed a signing ceremony regarding the articulation agreement between our campus and our co-located technical partners at North Central State College. Dr. Tom Gregoire, Dean of the Ohio State College of Social Work, was on hand with NCSC President Dorey Diab, and myself to bear witness to this accord. In brief, the articulation agreement creates a streamlined opportunity for NCSC students who graduate with an associate’s degree in human services to enter our bachelor’s degree program in social work with maximum credit for the academic work they accomplished while attending NCSC. Thanks go out to Social Work Program Coordinator Mary Jo Hawk for her unswerving pursuit of this arrangement in partnership with her Columbus campus and NCSC colleagues (including Molly McCue, an Ohio State MSW program graduate!).

Diversity and inclusion issues

This past Wednesday, Renee Thompson provided the Ohio State Mansfield Board subcommittee on External Relations with an update on the SMART (Students Making a Realistic Transition) program, which will focus on leadership, service, and academics for students of color in the upcoming year. The early arrival program (directly preceding Camp Hetuck) will consist of a two day introduction to the campus and community. The theme of the first day is “Be the Difference,” and will include a panel discussion of community leaders who will encourage students to lead by serving with excellence. The second day will focus on habits that lead to successful academics. In addition, Renee will be the lead instructor of the ASC 1101 Seminar for Students of Color, and will be incorporating concepts from Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World and Bridges Out of Poverty (you will recall that these resources were used in last year’s Beginning Anew initiative) to help students think through issues of generational and situational poverty among other important topics.

Land use

We hosted our sixth and final Community Engagement lunch this past Monday, with a specific focus on our budding environmental studies program and associated EcoLab initiative. This was one of the most well-attended lunches of this sort that we have hosted over the past two years, and undoubtedly it was because of the extraordinary interest being generated in the community about our nascent conservation and scholarship efforts in this area of inquiry. With Professors Ozeas Costa and Carol Landry being on hand to answer questions about our curricular efforts, I presented slides from the MKSK design group’s first attempt to create some visual aids regarding the emerging “Eco Lab” concept. That same day, our campus hosted a group of Ohio State faculty and staff who are interested in partnering with FirstEnergy on any number of research endeavors related to the power line right-of-way corridor that runs through our campus. Many thanks go out to Ozeas Costa for leading this meeting, as there were many potential next steps identified that can and will create opportunities to enhance student and faculty research efforts that focus on the natural resources found on the Ohio State Mansfield campus.

Planning in support of a more residential campus

The conversation regarding health care services on our campus recently has been revived. Although there are no details to report at this time, l look forward to near future communications about this important service for students (that quite possibly will be of benefit to faculty and staff as well). For now I will remain cautiously optimistic that we can and will have something available by Fall Semester of this year. Stay tuned!

 Renovation and repair

No news to report at this time.

Town-Gown relationships

Two Mondays ago, a meeting took place with the Richland Community Development Group (RCDG) long range planning committee to discuss the draft report presented to RCDG by City and Regional Planning students who have been working on their Richland County Economic Development project. Using the Mansfield campus as a meeting site, the committee plans to have these students make a presentation on April 22nd to key community stakeholders. More details about this gathering will be forthcoming.

Mood elevator

The end of March and beginning of April was a very busy time on our campus (and of course is a hint of more to come!), especially as it related to efforts to show off the high quality of our students and their work. Among other events over the last two weeks was the 2014 OSU Mansfield Student Art Exhibition, which opened with a public reception in the Pearl Conard Art Gallery. If you happened to visit this exhibit, you know what I mean when I say that I was astounded by the high level of quality represented by this body of work. And just yesterday, we hosted the 5th Annual Ohio State Mansfield Student Research Forum and the Academic Awards Celebration, which included book award presentations for academic departments and special awards in various disciplines. Again, the words “astounded” and “quality” equally apply here. The caliber of student work – and the amount of faculty mentoring that supports these activities – was nothing short of breathtaking.

It is very clear that there is so much hard work being undertaken to move the Ohio State Mansfield campus forward. Go Bucks… Going Up!

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