Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Carvel Simmons to share life lessons and insights during Black History Month talk at OU-C

Ground-breaking business professional Carvel Simmons will share insights he has gained during his personal and professional endeavors at 4 p.m. on Feb. 11 in Bennett Hall room 110 at Ohio University-Chillicothe. His talk, “Do not eliminate yourself from possibilities,” will help to commemorate Black History Month at OU-C.

Simmons lives by the common-sense lessons he learned while growing up in Ross County, and he has put those principles to use in his life and his career.

Simmons is currently president and owner of Trio Trucking, Inc., which he founded. Simmons began Trio Trucking in 1982 with a $500 investment and one tractor. It has since grown to employ more than 100 individuals and provides regional trucking and rail services as well as local and short-haul distribution. Trio Trucking was recognized as Wal-Mart 2009 Diversity Carrier of the Year.

Simmons was an all-state basketball player while a student at Frankfort High School. After graduating in 1960, he attended OU-C for two years when it offered classes in the former Smith High School. He then embarked on a pioneering business career.

Simmons was the first black employee hired at DuPont in Circleville and, later, the first black Nationwide Insurance claims adjustor in Cincinnati.

“Ray Mason, who hired me at Nationwide, told me that I was the right guy because I could get along with anyone,” Simmons said.

While his business interests have taken Simmons far, he has never forgotten his Ross County roots. The lessons he learned growing up prepared him for his future endeavors.

“I grew up in basically an all-white area and, because of that, I had to learn about myself and how to relate to people. Because of my attitude, I was able to make it,” he said. “I have learned from my experiences, but I am not soured by them.”

“My dad (Virgil ‘Pat’ Simmons) was a farmer, and I learned so much from how he lived and the lessons he shared. A week does not go by that I do not think about the values my father taught me. He was always sharing sayings about how to live and treat others. There is a reason these are old sayings; they still have meaning. I would not take anything for how I was raised.”

“I have learned that, in business and in life, it is all about relationships. It is important to not burn bridges and always be ready to forgive and forget. Stuff you carry with you has a way of eating at you and can detour you from your ultimate goal,” he said. “Too often, we do not turn the other cheek.”

Simmons is living proof in the power of having the right perspective.

“If you have the right countenance and carry yourself in a certain way, you are going to be fine, but you have to get along with others,” he said. “People are basically the same wherever you go. For me, the key is to live the Golden Rule and to treat people the way I want to be treated.”

Simmons is a tribute to the value of self-awareness and grasping the value of diverse viewpoints.

“Since I began in business, I have learned the importance of seeing things from the standpoint of other people and understanding where they are coming from.”

Simmons has been an avid supporter of OU-C, offering his insights and wisdom gleaned from his life experiences as a member of the campus’ Regional Coordinating Council.

In a testament to his father’s influence and occupation, Simmons continues to flourish and grow where he was first planted.

He and his wife, Charlmel, reside on a farm near Frankfort. He can see the family farm where he was raised from his current house. He has been inducted into the Frankfort High School Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime achievements.

Simmons’ talk is the first in a series of campus events that help to commemorate OU-C’s 70th anniversary in 2016 with a focus on the themes of culture and memory. Since its founding as the first regional campus in the state in 1946, the Chillicothe Campus has served as a gateway to higher education for countless residents of this region.

OU-C faculty member Debra Nickles participates in language arts education conference

Debra Nickles constantly seeks innovative educational methods.

By public relations student writer Madison Corbin

Ohio University Chillicothe Assistant Professor of English Debra Nickles continuously commits her time and energy to exploring the goings-on of education nationwide. Making it a mission in her career to seek out, sift through and consolidate the very best of educational practices, she exhibits a driving determination to innovate and improve in every classroom she enters.

In November 2015, Nickles traveled to Minneapolis to capitalize upon an opportunity to further nurture this effort.  She attended the Responsibility, Creativity and the Arts of Language: 105th Annual Convention, hosted by the National Council of Teachers of English, a professional network for educators in English K-16. Nickles serves as the university liaison on the executive board of the Ohio Council of Teachers of Language Arts, a branch of the hosting network.

At the conference, Nickles and her colleagues exchanged insights, ideas and pedagogies with an emphasis on college readiness in writing. The academic professionals approached the disparities between high school and college approaches to teaching language arts with the intention of filling in gaps that inhibit student success. As a seasoned examiner of this issue, Nickles submitted to a call for papers pertaining to the topic. She was selected to present about her own work.  

“Presenting on a national level was a great experience,” said Nickles. “Being engaged with so many passionate educators who are meeting the same kinds of challenges that we face here locally was inspiring. We are not alone!”

In October of 2015, Nickles partnered with Professor of English Tony Vinci, Ph.D., to host OU-C’s first College Readiness Forum, a platform for dialogue through which educators from various levels and regions could meet to compare, contrast and explore diverse teaching methods. This event, like the one that Nickles attended in Minneapolis, drew motivation from the challenges that students face in transitioning from high school to college.

Attributing the common struggle to a lacking communication between educators, Nickles, Vinci and their nationwide network of contemporaries are working hard to rectify systemic flaws and enhance students’ experiences in a meaningful way.

“It’s great to be a part of a national community dedicated to bridging the gap between the high school writing curriculum and college readiness,” said Nickles. “Writing is so essential. Bridging this gap will not only save students time and money, but it will also increase the quality of education in freshmen composition classrooms across the country, including OU-C.” 

At the conference, Jason Courtmache, the director of the Connecticut Writing Project at the University of Connecticut, approached Nickles with an invitation to join a new organization focused on college readiness created by the Modern Language Association. Her productivity in the fight against educational inadequacies continues.

Nickles plans to collaborate with peers, incite the input of students and pursue as many advantageous opportunities as possible. With her proactive style of problem-solving and ambitious acquisition of versatile perspectives, she contributes an exceptional academic presence to the OU-C campus.

OU-C social media efforts connects the campus with students and other stakeholder groups

Ohio University-Chillicothe is striving to strengthen connections with campus and external stakeholder groups where many feel most comfortable: online.

This year, OU-C increased its efforts to connect through Facebook and Instagram. The platforms are ideal for campus engagement because many students already frequent these platforms, interacting with friends and other organizations. OU-C social media accounts aim to facilitate an online community that allows students to interact with their peers, instructors and alumni.

The various social media sites are tailored toward target audiences, particularly in terms of message selection and tone. In this way, the campus can connect with individuals in a matter that is engaging and conversational and that builds relationships.

One function of OU-C’s Facebook page is to highlight important articles posted to the OU-C News Blog. Students who don’t frequently visit the news blog could potentially miss a post about a scholarship opportunity or important event. By sharing the news stories on Facebook, the news appears on the news feeds of a much broader audience and has another opportunity to reach the people who will benefit most from the article.

Beyond keeping students in-the-know about events, deadlines and other campus activities, the Facebook page has run several ongoing series this year that have received significant positive engagement throughout the year.

The first, called “College Tip Tuesday,” is a student advice series. The posts focus on providing students with useful tips and tricks that all college students should know. The advice covers a broad range of topics including time management; work and life balance, studying best practices and general health tips. Even though all students can relate to the advice given on College Tip Tuesday, the series was created to help new students tackle common college problems.

OU-C Facebook and Instagram followers also enjoy frequent blasts from the past on “Throwback Thursday.” The series features old photographs of OU-C classes, events and sports teams. The posts encourage OU-C Facebook and Instagram followers to tag people they recognize. This gave alumni the unique chance to reconnect with their peers and alma mater long after graduation.

OU-C’s most recent social endeavor is the creation of an Instagram profile. The campus’ communication and marketing team uses the visual-based platform to share photos of campus scenery, advertise special events, celebrate students’ accomplishments and illustrate daily life on campus. With context-rich imagery, OU-C can better share its collegiate atmosphere with followers who less frequently visit campus, whether they are future students, community members or alumni. Instagram equips OU-C’s online presence with aesthetic value; inviting social media participants to not only support its mission, but to see its successes for themselves.

Overall, OU-C’s social presence has grown considerably over the past year. Facebook post shares, or how many times followers post OU-C’s content on their own timeline or on the timelines of others, have doubled. The average number of page followers who like each OU-C post has quadrupled, and the number of Facebook users that ultimately see the content has also increased significantly. These metrics indicate that not only are OU-C page followers more engaged, but that OU-C’s content is reaching a significantly higher number of people online than it was last year. Overall, social media posts are driving an average of 32 percent more online visitors to the campus news blog.

To stay on top of all things OU-C, join our online community. You can follow OU-C on Instagram at @ouchillicothe and “like” OU-C on Facebook by clicking here.