Friday, February 24, 2017

OUC softball team hosts fundamentals clinic for the Pioneer Center of Ross County

Ohio University Chillicothe’s Lady Hilltopper softball team held a fundamentals clinic for students from the Ross County Pioneer Center at the OUC Health and Wellness Center Feb. 24, 2017.

The Pioneer Center located in Chillicothe, also known as the Ross County Board of Development Disabilities, provides assistance through programs for infants, preschoolers, school age children and adults with developmental disabilities.

The camp had more than 15 students from the Pioneer Center in attendance who were able to learn and improve upon their skills in softball techniques with OUC players. Stations at the event included group warmup and stretching, throwing, hitting, catching and fielding a ball.

George Beck, OUC Lady Hilltoppers softball coach, explained the impact of the more than three-year partnership with the Pioneer Center.

“Doing for others is what life’s all about,” noted Beck. “My team needs to share in that and participate in that. This experience puts their lives in perspective and we want them to see what a different perspective looks like and how to work together to help other people out.”

By providing an experience that’s almost identical to how the softball team prepares for their games, students at the Pioneer Center gained one-on-one exposure to a sport they rarely get to practice.

“It’s a great experience because we don’t have the equipment to do this type of practice at the school,” said Debbie Kennedy, Special Olympics coordinator and adaptive physical fitness teacher at the Pioneer Center. “The kids get to interact with their peers and they really enjoy coming to this event each year.”

The OUC softball team also gained valuable training through the clinic including understanding how to work with students with developmental disabilities to promoting an inclusive culture through shared physical fitness interests.

Alexis Cooper, a Freshman outfielder and pitcher for the Lady Hilltoppers who’s studying Early Childhood Education, described her experience with the clinic for the first time.

“This has been really great. I love the kids and they’re just awesome,” she said. “It’s really great to be tied into the community and get to have all of them come out and play softball with us.”

When describing her experience with the clinic, Freshman Mary Howard explained, “This [softball clinic] teaches us and them a valuable lesson to work well with others and to show them that we all always need help with something, and that it’s okay to ask for help.”

The partnership between OUC’s softball team and the Pioneer School brings together the two entities twice a year to expose the students at both schools to one another and build stronger bonds.  

“We partner in a lot of different projects and with numerous venues, but the students definitely enjoy spending time with the college athletes that are here in the community and learn a little bit from them,” said Patrick McFadden, Director of Communications for the Pioneer Center. “They all really enjoy sports and we like being able to expose them to more [sports], but sometimes they don’t get the technical teachings that someone at this level would get. It’s great for them to get to come up and get to utilize these facilities and spend time with these ladies.”

McFadden described the experience that he sees take place between the students and athletes as one that’s very special and a raw human connection.

“This group, in particular, have had many interactions with one another and it’s cool to see those relationships build,” he noted. “What’s interesting to me is to see the college students and how they interact, because for some of them it’s their first time interacting with someone with a developmental disability. I think with anything, there’s a fear of the unknown so when they can bond over a shared hobby like softball, or a sport in general, then you can see both sides open up. Whether or not they use a cane or a wheelchair melts away, and you see that real, human connection that comes through.”

The next clinic with the Pioneer Center will take place in the fall.

The OUC Lady Hilltoppers will begin their 2017 season in March after returning from pre-season camp in Pensacola, Florida.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

OUC Diversity event sparks discussions about key issues in South Central Ohio’s evolving workforce environments

Ohio University Chillicothe hosted a diversity discussions event on campus Feb. 21 to engage students and faculty in talks centered around dynamic workforce environments and the role diversity plays in them.  

More than 25 students participated in the come and go, round table discussions with topics aligned to some of the most popular degree paths at OUC. From diversity in nursing to the issues surrounding the law enforcement community to understanding LGBTQ concerns in other career fields, faculty members served as moderators, encouraging open and honest dialogue among students.

Mary Ellen Rapp, a sophomore at OUC studying wildlife conservation, shared her thoughts on the first diversity discussion event she’s ever participated in.

“I think it’s important to get everyone’s thoughts out there,” she noted. “And also, [figure out] what does diversity mean to everyone? It’s a broad subject and it has a different meaning to everyone. We all come from different backgrounds and diversity may mean something more to one person than another.”

The table that Rapp was sitting at focused on diversity in the science field and what that entailed. She relayed that student-centered dialogue hit on topics such as the meaning of diversity to each of them, employer hiring practices and stereotypes in the workplace.  

When asked why these kinds of events are necessary and relevant to today’s conversations, Rapp explained, “I think people just need to have an open mind. I don’t think that your genes or your family history should matter on who you are, or who your friends are or where you get employed. It should focus on your character, what you bring to the table. Who you are as a person should matter more.”

Faculty moderators included those who have personal ties to understanding the complex environment diversity can bring about in their fields.

Ronald Edwards, adjunct faculty for the Law Enforcement Technology program, shared his experiences as a former police officer and military first sergeant with students both inside and out of the LET program.

He discussed the evolving nature of race, ethnicity and community policing and how it’s important for police officers to understand the emerging environments and work together to create community advocates.

Additional moderators included Ronald Vance for nursing, Greg Obi and Tayna Hire for business and Mary Ellen Rapp, who served as student moderator for Science.

Ashlee Rauckhorst, coordinator of student activities, developed this program for OUC students after her work at the University of Georgia’s Gwinnett Campus. She noticed the need for this type of programming, since regional campus students are often busy outside of school with families, work and other responsibilities.

“Campus engagement is important for student success and a well-rounded college experience, she explained. “This event gives students the opportunity to do that in a manner that is comfortable and not incredibly time consuming. Additionally, students are able to learn something and provide their opinions in a safe and respectful environment.”

This diversity event is one of several that are held each semester. New themes are brought to life each time an event is planned, in order to keep the conversations relevant to today’s issues. The next diversity event will take place in the fall.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

History of Ohio University’s regional campus system highlighted in Alden Library Founders Day Exhibit

OHIO celebrated Founder's Day this year by focusing on the Regional Campuses in the system. The opening reception was held yesterday at Alden Library on the main campus and featured a beautiful display of all the regional campuses' history throughout the years. OUC's own Brandi Weaver, director of the Quinn Library, curated the exhibit, which payed homage to our storied history in Chillicothe.

Courtesy Story Ohio University's Bill Kimok

When, in 1946, Ohio University opened its first three branch campuses in Chillicothe, Portsmouth, and Zanesville, the institution already had plenty of practice in offering classes for academic credit outside of its main campus in Athens. As early as 1909, Ohio University faculty members were traveling to Jackson, Pomeroy, and Nelsonville to teach University-sanctioned and accredited college-level courses. The 1913 OHIO bulletin reported that the number of enrollees in such "extension courses" around the Southeast Ohio region totaled 164 students.

By the late 1930s, with the addition of correspondence courses, the popularity of higher education opportunities offered by OHIO beyond its main campus was such that the extension division had a director and an office in the East Wing (Wilson Hall) on the Athens Campus. Meanwhile, the regional demand alone for Ohio University courses necessitated the opening of so-called “centers” of education in Portsmouth and Zanesville which, in cooperation with the school boards in those cities, offered evening college courses to “recent graduates of high schools who do not find it possible to go away” to take college classes. By 1940, the Zanesville Center was enrolling 70 such students while 136 students enrolled in OHIO courses at the Portsmouth Center.

So, as World War II ended and young men returned home from the military to their Southeastern Ohio roots, Ohio University already had a history and a blueprint for giving those men—who had earned the opportunity of the so-called “G.I. Bill”—and others in the region access to higher education within their communities. In September 1946, OHIO's branch program was officially begun in Chillicothe, Portsmouth, and Zanesville. The University’s catalog proclaimed that "all students regularly enrolled in the branches are considered to be ‘regular’ students of Ohio University and receive full residence credit for all successfully completed courses.” Late afternoon and early evening classes were held in the classrooms, laboratories, and gymnasiums of local high schools, and, while veterans were encouraged to attend classes at the branches, non-veterans were admitted as well. By the second semester of the 1946-47 academic year, Portsmouth had enrolled 361 students, while Chillicothe and Zanesville had enrolled 255 and 198 students respectively.

It was not originally Ohio University’s intention to make the branches a permanent fixture of University concern. But even as enrollment declined temporarily in the early 1950s during the Korean conflict, the branch system had attained such prominence in the communities that it served that OHIO vowed it would continue to “make every effort to offer limited educational opportunities in the three cities.” Moreover, by the mid-1950s, the demand for a quality higher education in Southeast Ohio led to the establishment of three new branches in Lancaster and Ironton in 1956, and in Martins Ferry in Belmont County in 1957.

Eventually, one way or another, throughout the 1960s and 1970s, land was afforded for the constructing of actual campuses in all six OHIO branch communities. Despite Portsmouth’s withdrawal from the branch system in 1975 when it merged with a local technical college to become Shawnee State, the remaining five branches—or, as they later became known, “regional campuses”—have expanded and thrived throughout the past decades.

Today, more than 6,900 students are enrolled at the five regional campuses—Eastern (Belmont County), Chillicothe, Ironton, Lancaster, and Zanesville, and two so-called “satellite” campuses at Pickerington and Proctorville. More than 250 majors are available at the regional campuses to students who are on their way toward earning one of 15 associate’s degrees and 18 bachelor’s degrees. During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 1,400 degrees were earned by students attending the regional campuses.

Thus, a program that was begun more than 70 years ago as a temporary solution to deliver higher education to communities in Southeast Ohio which included hundreds of returning veterans in the 1940s has impacted the lives and circumstances of several generations of Southeastern Ohio individuals and their families. It is estimated that the economic impact of the regional campuses alone today is at $141.2 million.

We therefore celebrate Ohio University’s 2017 Founders Day in this exhibit space by commemorating the founding and the history of our regional campuses and some of the people—directors, instructors, and students—who helped to make them what they are today.

Each year, the Ohio University community celebrates Founders Day by reflecting on the journey of Ohio’s first institution of higher education. February 18, 2017, marks 213 years since the Ohio General Assembly approved charter plans for the creation of Ohio University.

The University has a long and rich history of serving students across Southeast Ohio, dating back to the early 1900s when faculty traveled to local communities to teach college-level courses. Since then, Ohio University’s regional campuses and centers have enriched generations of nontraditional and lifelong learners.

In recognition of the role the regional campuses have played in Ohio University’s history and to commemorate this year’s Founders Day, a special exhibit is now on display on the fifth floor of Alden Library that includes historic and current photos from each regional campus. In collaboration with the librarians at each regional campus, the exhibit highlights the defining features of each OHIO campus and is available for viewing during regular Library hours through Friday, April 21.
In his own words, Bill Kimok, University archivist and records manager, tells the story of OHIO’s regional campuses and the role they have played in providing opportunities to access higher education for many Southeast Ohioans.