Pen pal program unites students, Bitty Buckeyes

The Ohio State University at Mansfield cares as much about future Buckeyes as it does its current students and alumni. The Bitty Buckeye Leadership Project pairs Ohio State Mansfield students with local schoolchildren as pen pals to promote community relationships and plant the seed that they too can attend college.

The project is being coordinated by First Year Experience Coordinator Natasha Stouffer and First Year Experience Junior Coordinator Savanah Osborn. While this isn’t the first year the program has existed, it is the first time that they’ve started expanding the number of students involved.

“The program started with a few Buckeye Ambassadors,” Stouffer said. “When I got here, I found Buckeye Ambassador Kaitlyn Miller’s instruction manual for the program. I saw the potential in the project and thought that we should continue the outreach into local schools. The instruction manual has allowed us to replicate the program in various schools.”

The program has now grown to include Buckeye Ambassadors and First Year Student Leaders.

The university students get a lot of satisfaction out of the program. Michael Morgan, a freshman from Cleveland suburb Shaker Heights, has a pen pal at Sherman Elementary School.

“I think the Bitty Buckeye letters are amazing,” Morgan said. “My participation in the Bitty Buckeye Program has truly helped me in my first year in college, and I hope it helps the children understand the importance of education and hard work.”

Morgan is an example of what Stouffer likes about the program.

“I see The Bitty Buckeye Program as a great way to make students who aren’t from the area feel connected to Mansfield,” Stouffer said. “I think it shows what can happen when a community and the university work together.”

The program has been well received in the community, according to Stouffer.

“The teachers really like it because it gives their kids a way to practice their creative spelling and writing,” she said.

The children really enjoy the program as well. The conversations between students and the children are typically about education.

“They’re really excited about being able to talk to Buckeyes and learn about the college experience,” Osborn said. “We talk about college and what they want to be when they grow up and what they think college is like. Then we explain to them what our experiences are.”

The conversations will continue throughout the school year as letters are exchanged every couple of weeks. The program culminates when the college students meet their pen pals face-to-face at the local schools and spend a half-day talking about college and doing educational activities focusing on college access.

Stouffer and Osborn believe Bitty Buckeyes is a scalable project and expect the program to expand.

“We have more interest in it than we have students to write letters,” Stouffer said. “I expect to see it grow and grow over the next year.”

In memorium

Lowell Smith

Lowell Smith

Ohio State Mansfield lost a significant friend and partner this winter, Lowell T. Smith. He inspired youth about higher education as a teacher, coach, administrator, and finally board member for Mansfield City Schools, in the College of Education at Ashland University, and as founder of the Tyger Scholarship on our campus.

Memorial contributions can be made to this scholarship benefitting Mansfield City School graduates online at to fund number 313982, or by mail to 1760 University Drive, 222 Riedl Hall, Mansfield, Ohio, 44906.

From the Dean’s Office

From the Dean’s Office

Dr. Terri Fisher

Dr. Terri Fisher

Just like their counterparts on the Columbus campus, Ohio State Mansfield faculty are active researchers whose scholarly contributions are recognized worldwide.

Thus, students at Ohio State Mansfield can benefit in the classroom from the scholarly expertise of our faculty by learning about the most up-to-date research findings.

Beyond the classroom, students can learn about how research is designed, implemented, analyzed, and disseminated. Working with students in the lab, studio, or theatre is just another form of teaching for our faculty.

Some of our students take learning about research one step further and actually carry out their own projects, the results of which may eventually be presented at a conference or even published.

A few events during the month of April will showcase the scholarly activities of both our faculty and our students. On April 9, we will hold the first of our two-part Faculty Research Frenzy, featuring faculty from a variety of disciplines who will be discussing their scholarship in short and sparkling five-minute segments.

The second Faculty Research Frenzy, featuring the work of different faculty members, will be held April 13. Both events will occur between 12:40 p.m. and 1:25 p.m. in 229 Riedl Hall.

Beginning on April 20, the Ohio State Mansfield Undergraduate Research Forum will take place in the Epperson Atrium of Riedl Hall. Students will display their research findings in the form of posters and papers for the entire week. Visitors are welcome anytime, and the students will be available to talk about their work from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. April 23.

Throughout the semester, students and faculty will be sharing the results of their research at various conferences and research forums, publishing articles and books, and displaying their artistic endeavors—all part of the vibrant scholarly atmosphere at Ohio State Mansfield!

Terri D. Fisher, Ph.D.

Assistant Dean


Students love Buckeye experience

Homecoming Queen Jordan Morse and King Joey Burley are involved in activities.

Homecoming Queen Jordan Morse and King Joey Burley are involved in activities.

At Ohio State Mansfield, our students love being involved in campus activities, from student engagement to athletics programs, making Buckeye memories and friendships they will carry with them for life.

Homecoming king and queen, Joey Burley and Jordan Morse, were chosen for their extensive involvement in campus activities as well as volunteerism in the community.

Morse plays on the intercollegiate Mansfield Mavericks volleyball team and volunteers with children with disabilities at Raemelton Therapeutic Equestrian Center and at a local dog shelter.

Burley is involved in Psychology Student Association, English Club and Boxing Club. He participates in theater productions and is a summer cleaning and maintenance staff manager at campus housing Molyet Village Apartments.

They also have a lot in common. Both are Psychology majors, resident advisors at Molyet Village Apartments and graduates from Ashland High School. And they have been a couple for about four years.

“We have so many similar interests that we can explore those interests on campus, and we also, just like any other couple, have very different interests,” Burley said. “So it’s great that not only can we achieve all the experiences we wish to do together here but we can also achieve all the experiences that we want for ourselves as well.”

Burley, looking for sparring partners, started the boxing club on campus. He credits both the Office of Student Engagement and Athletics for guiding him through the process to succeed in his goal. They helped him craft liability documents, create club flyers to recruit members and granted the new club $800 for equipment. The club has grown to about 10 who are regular participants.

The couple decided to apply for homecoming court because it was something they could participate in together. The selection process included interviews with a committee of faculty and staff who evaluated their campus and community involvement.

“I was so nervous for the interview but it went so well,” Morse said. “Everyone was so calm and I got to talk about my interests, which was the best part.”

Students chose them as king and queen.

“Something told me that it was going to be a really good experience for both of us and it wound up like a fairy tale,” Burley said. “We were treated like royalty for the whole weekend. Especially standing right alongside the one you love – it was awesome.”

While both live close enough to commute to campus, they chose to live in the campus dorm. They love the community atmosphere and the friendships they have made.

“I absolutely love it here,” Burley said. “I choose to get involved in so many different things because it’s a part of who I am and the opportunity presents itself so often here even at a regional campus.

“I think a lot of people consider getting involved to be either something that you are innately able to do or innately unable to do and I don’t think that’s true. Everyone wants that Buckeye experience. Just open your eyes, because even here at the Mansfield campus, it’s available.”

#313112 OSU Mansfield Student Life Support Fund

#312001 OSU Mansfield Recreation Center Fund

Student’s research has implications across Ohio

Freshman Jeff Hensal received a research scholar award to study long-term trends in precipitation across Ohio.

Freshman Jeff Hensal received a research scholar award to study long-term trends in precipitation across Ohio.

An Ohio State Mansfield student is conducting a research project that may have broad implications across Ohio for its number one industry – farming.

Freshman Jeff Hensal is the first from Ohio State Mansfield to receive a Research Scholar Award of $1,000 from the Ohio State University Undergraduate Research Office. His proposal looks at historical precipitation data to identify long-term trends in precipitation amounts, moisture regime and water availability in Ohio. Results from this study will help managers better prepare for extreme weather events and support farmers in their planning for irrigation and water usage.

Drawing from precipitation data from NOAA National Climatic Data Center going back to the 1970s from 205 weather stations in all 88 Ohio counties, Hensal and research mentor and professor Ozeas Costa hope to gain knowledge about the trends and patterns of climate change to be able to make accurate predictions about the weather, especially extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. They also hope to discover some of the factors that impact this change to help better predict future climate variability.

The Earth’s climate is intrinsic to everything important to society – the production of food and energy, human and ecosystem health, the functioning and characteristics of the hydrologic cycle, and much more, Hensal explained in his proposal.

“Natural and human-induced changes in the Earth’s climate thus have widespread implications for society,” he said. “We are particularly interested in the role of climatic changes on the hydrological cycle, since water availability is crucial to agriculture, one of the major drivers of Ohio’s economy.”

Tracking historical information means that researchers can determine what could be expected from the future, both in terms of intensity and frequency of rains, which will help farmers determine when to plant, and how much fertilizer and pesticides to use, according to Costa.

The Engineering major is expected to prepare a three-month progress report and to create an online research portfolio and update it each semester until he graduates.

Hensal’s work will be displayed at the Mansfield Undergraduate Research Forum April 20-23 and he will be available from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. April 23 to answer questions about the project.

About 300 scholarships will be awarded through the program this year. Students can conduct research or pursue a creative activity with a faculty member’s supervision in any discipline, on any campus of The Ohio State University.

Tradition way of life for Buckeyeman and granddaughter

Buckeyeman Larry Lokai and granddaughter Catherine Williams visit the Cyber Café.

Buckeyeman Larry Lokai and granddaughter Catherine Williams visit the Cyber Café.

No one has more Buckeye pride and enthusiasm than Buckeyeman. For the last 17 years, the Ohio State alumnus has been plastering face paint on, hanging buckeyes around his neck, and cheering for The Ohio State University.

What people may forget is that there’s an ordinary man underneath that red and grey exterior. Larry Lokai, of Urbana, Ohio, isn’t just a Buckeye on the outside; he’s a Buckeye through and through. Lokai graduated from Ohio State in 1967.

Granddaughter Catherine Williams is carrying on the tradition as a freshman at Ohio State Mansfield. Twenty-four of Lokai’s family members have attended Ohio State including five other grandchildren who are currently attending the university at the Columbus and Lima campuses.

“If all goes well, we will have our 25th degree from our immediate family by 2018,” Lokai said.

Williams, a Special Education major, always knew she wanted to go to The Ohio State University. She learned more about regional campuses as two older sisters chose to attend Ohio State Lima.

“I already knew I had an option to go to a regional campus, but was not sure which one would be the right fit for me,” Williams said. “I narrowed down my search based on the option of housing and if my major was offered. My search was narrowed down to Lima and Mansfield, but when touring Mansfield, this campus seemed more of a fit for me even though I already knew people who were going to Lima.

Lokai has visited every regional campus as Buckeyeman, but didn’t stop at Ohio State Mansfield until this past November when he visited Williams at off-campus housing Buckeye Village and toured the campus.

He liked the modern buildings and the smaller campus setting.

“The primary value is the smaller setting with a closer group of fellow students,” Lokai said. “Plus, the Mansfield campus is located in a spacious, clean and safe part of town.”

When asked whether Williams will carry on her grandfather’s tradition, she said, “I will continue the tradition of being an avid Ohio State fan and will always speak highly of not only Ohio State, but how much of a fan he is for OSU.”

Dean’s report March 20, 2015

Happy First Day of Spring! (It couldn’t have come a moment too soon!).

When I first toured the Mansfield campus four and a half years ago in November 2010, there were three things that I saw that were “broken”: the library, the dining area, and the weight room. And so when I took the dean’s position I vowed to “fix” all three items (in addition to pledging to not take no for an answer about housing, of course). Fast forward to 2015: Our BLIC is the envy of the regional campuses, the dining area has new furniture and a major renovation scheduled for this May, and as of today (ta da!) our weight room is the amazing new gem of our campus! It’s strange to say this, but out of all the “fixes” accomplished during this time I am most proud of the renovated weight room… must be because I am a gym rat at heart!

You will soon be receiving an invitation from Mike LaCroix to attend an Open House to view the new facility. Please take the opportunity to check out the new equipment, bright new walls and mirrors, and workout floor. I hope you will experience some of the same “shock and awe” that I did!

Meanwhile, here is a quick rundown of some of the things that have happened on the Mansfield campus over the past two weeks:

Human Resources

  • Offers are now out to the top candidates coming out of the History and Education searches. I will make announcements as soon as I get each candidate to sign on the dotted line!
  • Next week (W/TH) is the set of two-day meetings between your TIU chairs and the regional deans to discuss teaching, scholarship and service effort ratings.


  • Gary Kennedy received a fairly comprehensive response from the College of Arts & Sciences regarding our proposition to create new majors in Environmental Studies and Emerging Media in the Arts. It looks like we will be scheduling a time in the very near future to discuss the proposals with the affected TIU chairs and divisional deans.
  • Yesterday we were paid a visit by Blaine Lilly, an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, who walked us through some of the second year engineering issues we are going to be facing as we ramp up our program. It was an encouraging meeting, and plans are for some quick follow through on itemizing equipment and space needs.
  • Jeff Sharp, Director of the School of Environmental and Natural Resources, will be visiting our campus next week to discuss the pros and cons of that program re-establishing a presence on our campus.

Diversity and inclusion issues

  • I have been recruited to participate in the “White Men as Full Diversity Partners” training that is taking place May 18-21 in Ohio. I am one of 15 Ohio State administrators selected to take part in this training.

Property and facilities

  • Ozeas Costa has identified some funding possibilities through USDA with regard to the development of a trail system on our campus. As a result, we have initiated some informal discussions with local funding outlets to ascertain the possibility of receiving some planning money in front of our application for the USDA money.

Town-gown relationships

  • Brian White and I met with Ontario government representatives on the Campus District this past Monday. We were provided with an update on sidewalk/bike path installation, which is scheduled to begin sometime later this spring, as well as sewer negotiations between Ontario and Mansfield, which are expected to be concluded successfully in the very near future.

From the flight deck

I am very pleased to see the work of the campus culture committee moving forward. Their report was released last Friday, and senior staff’s extensive discussion of the report this past Monday morning concluded with an endorsement of the plan. Later that same day, MSAC sponsored an open forum to discuss the report, resulting in lots of good discussion about a variety of topics. Informal lunches to continue this dialogue were on Wednesday and Thursday of this week as well, and both Executive Committee and Faculty Assembly will be taking up the discussion next Friday. Please, please, please take part in the conversation. All voices need to be heard!

Go Bucks and Go Ohio State Mansfield!

Dean’s report March 6, 2015

I’m still coming down off the high I got last night from the Ohio State Mansfield production of “Working.” Congratulations to Joe Fahey and all of the students and staff who participated in making that event such as success. A special shout out to two of the student cast members who had major roles last evening: Tony Baer and London-Ashlee Christian. Tony is one of our Student Technical Support Specialists, who typically can be found in someone’s office troubleshooting a computer issue of one sort or another. London has been very active in student affairs this year, and most recently was a panelist during our “Race Matters” conversation. Such talent! Also, many thanks to the Ohio State Mansfield Board members who joined me last night for the event! It was a great way to show support for the Theatre Program while also saying thank you to the Board members for all they do to support our campus.

Here is a quick rundown of some of the things that have happened on the Mansfield campus over the past two weeks:

Human Resources

  • The candidate visits for both the History and Education positions are now complete. Many thanks to Heather Tanner and Ruth Lowery for chairing these searches, as well as to their committee members. I am just now beginning the negotiation process with the top candidates that have been identified by the search committees. I hope to make announcements very soon!
  • I received a preliminary copy of the Campus Culture Committee report, and am scheduled to meet with the committee members this coming Monday. My hope is to get the report into everyone’s hands in the very near future in order to begin the process of formulating next steps.


  • In her capacity as the chair of the Curriculum Committee, Susan Delagrange made a presentation to the Board last evening to provide updates on our efforts to establish both a second year Engineering Program and a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Studies (BAIS) program. As a result of the decision to move forward with a mechanical engineering focus, we hope to have the College of Engineering on campus very soon to help make decisions about equipment necessary for the second year courses. Regarding the BAIS, it looks as though we will be putting most of our energies into getting the Environmental Studies program moving forward first, and then following with other tracks (such as the Emerging Media in the Arts).

Diversity and inclusion issues

  • The Soul Food Dinner was a smashing success by all accounts. Renee Thompson and her crew rocked the event, which was the capstone on the most comprehensive Black History Month I have witnessed over the last four years. If you haven’t done so already, please thank Renee for all of the hard work she put into these activities.

Property and facilities

  • A tabletop exercise was conducted last week with both Ohio State Mansfield and NCSC personnel involved in order to experience what would happen in the event of an emergency striking our campus.

Town-gown relationships

  • The monthly Joint Campus District planning meeting was hosted by the Mansfield campus yesterday. Happily, the group was short a couple of members, who were busying themselves with ironing out what we hope are some of the last remaining wrinkles of a sewer agreement between Mansfield and Ontario. Such an agreement would remove one of the largest remaining obstacles to the development of the property just south of the Buckeye Village Apartment complex. Initial schematics were presented on just what the property would look like when developed, which were very much in line with the walkable, life style community approach that has been discussed previously in this joint planning group.

From the flight deck

Last Thursday Provost Steinmetz gave his State of Academic Affairs speech on the Columbus campus. We garnered some of his attention that day… a shout out, if you will. Here is the excerpt:

I fear we could be heading toward the day when only the well-to-do can afford to go to a place like Ohio State. This is simply not the goal of a great land-grant institution like The Ohio State University. So what are we doing? For one thing, Ohio State has become part of a national consortium called the University Innovation Alliance, which has brought us together with leaders at ten other universities to address the problem of access. For example, we are looking at ways to use predictive analytics to make sure all our students can succeed at Ohio State and, more importantly, complete their degrees in four years. Another example: At the Mansfield and Newark campuses learning communities for first generation students have been formed to foster student success. Why is this important? It’s simple. We believe that increasing student success translates into student’s completing degrees in a timely fashion and this can lead to significant student savings of the cost of education.

Congratulations to Shari Petersen and her staff for the “point of pride” mention of the important work being done with our first generation student body! You can bet that any time access is mentioned in the context of Ohio State, the regional campuses are going to be in middle of the spotlight. And as Buckeye North, we are the closet point of access to Ohio State for over 25% of the state’s population.

I hope that everyone has a great weekend. Go Bucks and Go Ohio State Mansfield!