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.”

Ticoras gives back to campus, community

Mansfield dermatologist Christ Ticoras credits The Ohio State University for his success as a community volunteer.

Mansfield dermatologist Christ Ticoras credits The Ohio State University for his success as a community volunteer.

But for Ohio State, Mansfield dermatologist Dr. Christ Ticoras wouldn’t be the successful doctor, husband, father, philanthropist and community volunteer he is today.

“Ohio State opened a lot of doors and allowed me to succeed,” he said.

Ticoras is finishing his ninth of nine years on the Ohio State Mansfield Board. He was instrumental in starting the Ohio State Mansfield Board of Trustees Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to third-year and higher students who intend to graduate from Ohio State Mansfield and are actively involved in community service.

The endowment goal is to raise $200,000; Ticoras’ pledge is to provide a 50 percent match for donations.

Ticoras knows the worth of scholarships as he paid his own way through college, performing research as a lab assistant while he earned Ohio State’s Presidential Scholarship. He graduated from Ohio State in June 1987 at the top of his College of Pharmacy class, summa cum laude with distinction and honors.

Through an Air Force scholarship to Wright State University, Ticoras earned his medical degree; his return on the scholarship was active duty time in Tucson, Ariz.

Yearning to return to Ohio, he found a private practice position in 1999 in Mansfield.

“I’ve been really blessed to have 15 great years here in Mansfield,” he said.

Ticoras has become firmly entrenched in the community, early on supporting the Salvation Army and Richland Pregnancy Services. He and wife Heather belong to the Richland County Foundation Connections group.

Professionally, Ticoras, with Ohio Health, provides free skin cancer screening, coordination and care during Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May.

Ticoras recently donated funds for a group study room in the renovated Bromfield Library and Information Commons.

“I like Woody Hayes’ idea of paying forward,” he said. “I think as alumni we are really called to do that.”

Ticoras says there’s a distinct advantage to attending a regional campus – small class sizes taught by professors.

“And even though many professors are involved with research, they have a real passion to teach,” Ticoras said.

#644465 Ohio State Mansfield Board Leadership Scholarship


Alumni clubs provide friendship and service to campus

Monica Homer, center, holds a signed photo from football alumni James Cotton and Courtland Bullard she received at Buckeye Bash 2014.

Monica Homer, center, holds a signed photo from football alumni James Cotton and Courtland Bullard she received at Buckeye Bash 2014.

The Ohio State University at Mansfield is fortunate to have support from two county alumni clubs – Richland County and Knox County.

The alumni clubs are part of a network of more than 200 locations throughout the world that provide opportunities for continued friendship and service to Ohio State.

“Our main purpose is to support Ohio State Mansfield and to provide scholarships for Richland County students,” said Richland County president Kathy Russell.

The Richland County Alumni Club established an endowment that provides full tuition scholarships to new students graduating from a Richland County high school. Awards are made by the club, based on high school grades, ACT scores, application questionnaire, and personal interview with the club scholarship committee.

Money is raised for the scholarships and other needs through the club’s annual Buckeye Bash. This year’s event includes featured speaker Jim Tressel, Buckeyes head football coach from 2001 to 2010 and currently president of Youngstown State University. Tressel’s career at Ohio State included an overall record of 94–22, including six Big Ten Conference championships, a 5–4 bowl record and a 4–3 record in BCS bowl games.

Buckeye Bash is scheduled for Nov. 24 at the Mid-Ohio Conference Center, 890 W. Fourth St., in Mansfield. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and Tressel will speak around 7 p.m. The evening also includes live and silent auctions of Ohio State memorabilia and performance by members of the Ohio State Marching Band.

“It’s really a fun night, full of Buckeye spirit and for a great cause, and we are very excited that Jim Tressel will join us this year,” Russell said.

The Knox County Alumni Club also hosts a fundraiser – Buckeye Spirit Event – to provide scholarships for Knox County Students. The event this year will be held Oct. 21. Check our calendar for more information.

Facebook pages: osurichlandalumni and osuknoxalumni

Internships Build Tomorrow’s Workforce Leaders

Students from Ohio State Mansfield and North Central State College attend a Richland Area Chamber of Commerce event in the hopes of landing an internship with a local business.

The next time you are in a doctor’s office, Panera Bread, Pier 1 Imports, or an AMF bowling facility, check out the cabinets, counters and booth walls. They were likely made at Cooper Enterprises in Shelby. Monty Friebel ‘82 and his brother Edward are the third generation to have a hand in the family business, created by their grandfather in 1965.

The business has enjoyed success through the years, boasting resilience and financial strength even in a stagnant economy. But company leadership is aging, so to Friebel, it makes sense to invest in the Mansfield campus Business & Industry Internship Program.

“If I don’t bring in and start to develop young leaders today to become my leaders tomorrow, I’m going to be in trouble when everyone decides to retire,” Friebel said. “As my business grows, I need to identify leaders who are smarter and younger than us to help fill those leadership needs.”

The internship program got a jump-start this year as The Ohio State University at Mansfield and North Central State College joined forces to win a competitive grant in the JobReady Ohio program. The program grew from 6 students last year to 34 students in the summer and fall semesters as well as signing on 15 partner employers this year.

The grant reimburses private industry to offer paid internships to undergraduate students, according to Tracy Bond, internship program coordinator.

Bond helps students become “internship-ready” by offering classes in resume writing and career coaching, then matches them with prospective employers who will provide learning opportunities.

“It’s not as simple as ‘here’s a job, let me apply for the job, let me go work,’” Bond said. “Internships apply to the real world. They connect students’ studies with eventual careers.”

Friebel met Engineering major Brian Kurtz at a business luncheon at the Mansfield campus. Kurtz has since interned at Cooper Enterprises for two semesters. Another student, Business major Tom Boggs, interned over the summer.

Regardless of the internship, Friebel places the interns on the shop floor for the first couple of weeks.

“We want them to understand the culture of the business, understand our processes and operations, the parts and products that we are making, materials that we are using, so when Brian begins to make drawings, he will understand what he is drawing, and so Tom will understand the materials better for product identification,” Friebel said.

An endowment was established during the But for Ohio State Mansfield campaign to continue to fund internship opportunities. Although Friebel self-funds his internship positions, he hopes other employers will provide opportunities for students through the endowment.

“I see it as giving back,” Friebel said. “This is part of economic development. If we can start developing leaders and show them where there’s opportunities here in our local community, and they stay in the community, it’s wonderful.”

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.

But for Ohio State Mansfield: Mike LaCroix

SONY DSCBy Jake Furr, Stephanie Maneese, Heather Smith, and Terry Taylor

What started out as a journey of uncertainty for Mike LaCroix has turned into something truly special: serving as the Coordinator of Athletics and Recreation at The Ohio State University at Mansfield.

The Plymouth native knew that going to college was a necessity, so he enrolled in classes at OSU Mansfield to pursue a bachelor’s degree. He chose OSU Mansfield because it was close to home and he would have the support of friends and family while adjusting to the demands of college.

Like many incoming students, Mike wondered what there was to do. He soon discovered “games to attend, events to go to,” and numerous organizations and clubs to join. OSU Mansfield is also a prime location for many kinds of recreation, from skiing at Snow Trails to jumping out of airplanes with the skydiving club. Mike immediately joined the Mansfield Mavericks basketball team and helped out with freshmen orientation on behalf of the Campus Recreation Center. Sports are a big part of his life, and OSU Mansfield gave him the opportunity to live his dream of playing college basketball.

When asked about his favorite memory at OSU Mansfield, Mike declared without hesitation, “Playing basketball. Not so much the game, but the van trips to and from games. Fit twelve guys into an eleven-passenger van, and the conversations that come up are off the wall. Win or lose, that is my biggest memory from being a student.” Mike’s basketball team left a lasting impression on him, and he will always be thankful to OSU Mansfield for that.

In addition to extracurricular activities, OSU Mansfield encourages students to earn credit by completing internships. Mike gained real world work experience by interning at Plymouth High School. He dedicated over sixty hours working at numerous athletic events and has exemplified what it means to be an Ohio State Buckeye as a member of the local community.

By attending OSU Mansfield, Mike said he was able to “get a job as a student worker, find a major that suited me, develop the skills necessary to be selected as the new Coordinator, and meet my future wife, all because of the decision I made to play basketball for the Mavericks.”

Mike was unsure what he wanted to major in until his junior year when an OSU Mansfield staff member suggested he look into sports management. Mike took advantage of what OSU Mansfield offers in order to achieve his goals. The Ohio State University not only gave him the tools he needed, but also a professional opportunity to get his career started.

Being employed as the new Coordinator of Athletics and Recreation at OSU Mansfield means a lot to Mike because he has the best of both worlds; he gets to be close to his family while working at a nationally recognized university. Mike enjoys his time working with students and members of the Mansfield community through non-credit programs offered at the campus recreation center. OSU Mansfield not only gave Mike a launching pad for his future; OSU Mansfield employees also gave him advice and guided him in the right direction.

Mike’s advice to anyone who is contemplating getting their education at Ohio State Mansfield would be to absolutely go for it: it’s affordable, and it has a national reputation. OSU Mansfield is less expensive than Columbus, while offering smaller classes and more opportunities for one-on-one teaching. Mike believes the small campus atmosphere provides a better learning environment for students. He explains, “You don’t feel overwhelmed; you don’t feel like a number. At OSU Mansfield, when you have a question, you are not talking to a teaching assistant; you are speaking directly to a professor. You are able to focus more here, and there is much more of a support group.”

But for Ohio State Mansfield, Mike LaCroix would not have received the support, direction, and opportunity that landed him in Sports Management.