Ohio Today Online reaches great heights this summer by “taking flight.” Said another way, this theme explores some of the numerous ways that Bobcats soar.
For instance, astronauts descended onto the Athens Campus this summer as part of the International Space University 28th annual Space Studies Program. Also, Ohio Valley Summer Theater revived the airborne Mary Poppins, with help from OHIO. And freshman and transfer students attended a summer orientation to launch their higher education. Meanwhile, the school participated in the world’s largest international paper airplane contest last spring. Plus, two alumnae relaunched their careers in personal ways.
Check out these stories, photos, video, and audio—and several other pieces about rocketing Bobcats!
Editor Peter Szatmary
Art Director Sarah McDowell
Illustration on landing page by Midori Sakurai
A deaf, part-time instructor at Ohio University Lancaster Campus earned her pilot license. Jenny Hurst, who teaches sign language, took her first solo flight last July. Deaf since age 2, she longed to be at the controls, just like her grandfather, a captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, according to an article in the Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette. Hurst has had cochlear implants since 2001. She owns Hammock Gear camping outfitters with husband Adam, who had contacted an aviation school for her. They have four children. Hurst hopes to become accredited in instrument flight rules to fly larger planes.
OHIO students, alumni, and faculty traveled to Ghana in June to participate in Diema, a celebration of contemporary Ghanaian music and dance.
Twelve OHIO students and alumni performed with the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Dance Company of Ghana at the National Theatre of Ghana. Works were composed and choreographed by Paschal Yao Younge, professor of music, and Zelma Badu-Younge, associate professor of dance, respectively.
“This bi-continental and multicultural project raises OHIO’s profile for artistic and scholarly contributions to international education,” the creators wrote via e-mail.
“Diema” is a Dagbamba Ghanaian term for “a celebration of the performing and visual arts.”
OHIO’s Center for Entrepreneurship received the 2015 Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program Award from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
“Like the entrepreneurs we serve, this award reflects the big push we have made in innovation and education for students and the community,” said Lynn Gellermann, executive director of the center, in a statement.
“It is an honor to be recognized out of the hundreds of colleges and universities represented,” added Luke Pittaway, director of the center.
The Center for Entrepreneurship is a partnership between the College of Business and Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
—Sara Jerde, BSJ ’15, and Maygan Beeler, BSJ ’17
Spatial relations, close encounters, & super men & women
Think you possess the right stuff to become an astronaut? Then be prepared for surprises.
Expecting the unexpected proved a takeaway at an “International Astronaut Panel” held in mid-June at Ohio University’s Baker University Center.
“Apollo 17 was a continuous set of surprises,” said retired astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, lunar module pilot for Apollo 17, and a geologist by trade, plus a onetime U.S. senator from New Mexico. The first scientist-astronaut to land on the moon,
he collected the largest lunar sample on a 12-day mission in December 1972.
“We had prepared for most of them, but every once in a while there would be something surprising, particularly when we got into exploration on the actual surface,” he said at a media Q&A before the public panel. The presence of orange volcanic ash on the moon, for example, amazed him.
“I spent a surprising amount of my time doing repair work,” said Canadian former astronaut Bob Thirsk at the media Q&A. “I never trained on fixing the oxygen generator, I never trained on fixing the carbon dioxide scrubber, I never trained on fixing the toilet, but I had these generic skills,” he explained. “It was a lesson for me that you have to be ready for anything.”
Thirsk served as a payload specialist aboard NASA’s Columbia space shuttle in 1996 for a mission lasting almost 17 days. He also was a flight engineer for a six-month assignment at the International Space Station in 2009, docking there via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Schmitt and Thirsk and three other astronauts shared
surprises, along with lessons, plus a few chuckles, during the OHIO exchange.
The capacity crowd interacted by posing questions; social media allowed virtual attendees to ask some, too. Dennis Irwin, dean of the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology at
The discussion formed part of the International Space University (ISU) 28th annual Space Studies Program (SSP), hosted this year by OHIO. The galactic summer school seeks to educate graduate students, post-graduates, and professionals—and the public—on subjects ranging from space programs to space enterprises to space culture. Previous SSP host cities include major metropolises such as Barcelona and Beijing. Irwin is a longstanding faculty member of ISU, and ISU’s dean, Angie Bukley, once was a Stocker Visiting Professor at Russ College of Engineering and Technology.
“With its cutting-edge academic facilities and modern accommodations all situated in the rolling hills and forest of southern Ohio, the university is one of the nicest spots in America,” John Connolly, SSP director,
ISU President Walter Peeters praised OHIO’s “well-thought and excellent SSP proposal.”
The term ran June 8 through Aug. 7. More than 110 participants from 30 countries took graduate-level curriculum in fields such as space applications and space engineering. Study involved core lectures, department activities, and team projects.
Other public events included a model rocket launch; a robotics competition; a panel discussion, “Where Space Meets Popular Culture,” with speakers led by five-time Hugo Award-winning science fiction author Mike Resnick; a lecture by NASA’s administrator Charles Bolden about the future of NASA, planetary science, Earth science, and human exploration; and talks by space entrepreneurs and about the Hubble
South Korea’s first and only astronaut, Soyeon Yi, also on the astronaut panel, entered the field through a surprising turn. A mechanical engineer by training, she was chosen from 36,000 applicants to travel to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz rocket in April 2008 as a payload specialist, completing experiments and medical tests during the 10-day mission. The former astronaut’s voyage ended with another surprise: unanticipated ballistic reentry.
“Ballistic reentry means just coming down,” European Space Agency astronaut Paulo Nespoli explained at the media Q&A. “Nothing is working. It’s a rock coming down from space and eventually the parachute opens.”
Nespoli was a mission specialist on the Discovery space shuttle to the International Space Station for about two weeks in 2007 and a flight engineer for a 159-day stay on the International Space Station in 2010-11. The awkwardness of physically adjusting to space
“It’s really hard to move from one place to another without hitting anything, without ripping computers off and banging walls and splitting your head somewhere,” he said during the panel discussion.
Space travel provides another surprise: enjoyment.
“Flying around like Superman from place to place, looking out the window at this beautiful blue marble down below, you can’t help but have fun,” said Thirsk.
—Maygan Beeler, BSJ ’17
The next generation of Bobcats lifts off
Completing a schedule and making a friend topped the list of priorities for incoming freshmen, their families, and Ohio University personnel during undergraduate Bobcat Student Orientation this summer.
“I liked making the schedule,” said Evan Rodivoyevitch, of Cleveland, Ohio, during a two-day session in early June, “and sort of planning out what I will be taking and learning.”
“Our main goal as orientation leaders is to have every student leave with a complete and appropriate schedule and make a new friend,” echoed guide Kayla Scott, a senior majoring in integrated language arts education and a distance runner on the women’s track and field team.
More than 4,650 first-year and transfer students and upwards of 6,435 parents and family members attended the mandatory orientation in phases throughout June. Current OHIO students and recent graduates assisted OHIO staffers in preparing the new arrivals for a Bobcat education and on-campus living. The incoming students stayed in residence halls while parents and family made their own overnight arrangements.
The diverse itinerary covered everything from academics to advising, health matters to safety issues, and living away from home to “Expectations and Opportunities,” a talk led by Jenny Hall-Jones, AB ’95, MED ’97, PHD ’11, dean of students and interim vice president of student affairs. Parents and family could attend a few sessions with the new students. Both groups spent the majority of their time in meetings tailored for them. Orientation lasted from early morning through late night on day one and all morning on day two.
“The program is really about transitioning to OHIO and making sure that you’re prepared in many different ways: being prepared to move into a residence hall, understanding what kinds of things you might like to join when you get here, all of that,” said Jennifer Klein, assistant dean for persistence and student success.
Jordann Schach, an incoming freshman from Bay Village, Ohio, and Janine Schomer of Latrobe, Pa., both music therapy majors, first came to OHIO in high school to participate in music camps. Stepping foot on the Athens Campus was love at first sight, they agreed during lunch break.
Jillian Petrina, of Mason, Ohio, felt the same way.
“I literally walked on this campus [during a tour when in high school]—it wasn’t even on my radar—and after the first time being here, I was like, ‘This is it.’” Petrina said.
The “it” for her mother, Lisa Petrina, proved more practical. “I hoped that she got the right schedule,” the matriarch said about orientation during lunch break. “I hoped that she would make some connections with people.”
And Jillian Petrina achieved both, the daughter said.
Technology also played a prominent role in orientation. OHIO debuted an app for smartphone users. It offered features such as orientation schedules for parents and students, a campus map, and answers to frequently asked questions.
—Maygan Beeler, BSJ ’17
Supporting OHIO soldiers
In February, Ohio University rechristened its Veterans and Military Student Service Center to commemorate two Bobcats with distinguished careers in the armed forces. Over the past year, the since-redesignated Brigadier General James M. Abraham-Colonel Arlene F. Greenfield Veterans and Military Student Services Center also relocated to a larger facility and reached more clientele. These measures, both inspirational and practical, help OHIO student veterans take educational flight to a greater degree, administrators agree.
The relocation has attracted up to 60 percent more student veterans on the Athens Campus, estimated David Edwards, the center’s director and a retired senior master sergeant in the Air Force. There are approximately 400 student veterans on the Athens Campus and 800 at the regional campuses, he said. Center resources include academic tutoring, job assistance, and résumé writing. The center also sends updates on the GI Bill.
The center has been “a big factor in getting me to come out of my shell,” said Tyler Daniels, a senior majoring in political science and in war and peace studies and a
U.S. Army specialist/veteran. “You come from the military where nobody is really nice, but faculty and staff here are more generous than I thought they would be.”
OHIO officials gathered in February at the new site to pay tribute to the namesakes. The grand reopening occurred in March. The operation moved from a one-room office in Chubb Hall to a bigger space on the third floor of Baker University Center to accommodate additional student workers and an expanding staff.
“Arlene Greenfield’s most important mission was taking care of Ohio University veterans,” stated Renée Middleton, dean of the Patton College of Education, from which Greenfield, BSHE ’71, had earned her undergraduate degree. “I know she would be proud of the new veterans center. Having it named, in part, in her honor will allow her legacy to live on as we continue to embrace our beloved veterans as she would have,” Middleton continued via e-mail.
Greenfield retired from the Army in 2001 after more than 30 years of service. Highly decorated, she led three successful command tours and specialized in human resources, personnel management, administration, utilization, and readiness. Greenfield’s commitment to OHIO included chairing both its Women in Philanthropy and Alumni Association, supporting the ROTC, and endowing numerous scholarships. She died at age 64 on Aug. 26, 2014.
Abraham, BSEE ’43, BSIE ’48, received his first commission from Gen. George Patton, missing his OHIO graduation due to WWII duty. Abraham, who served in the Army for some 40 years, authored the groundbreaking Simultaneous Membership Program for OHIO, the nation’s first tuition grant opportunity for National Guard soldiers. A registered engineer, he held several patents. Abraham endowed many OHIO scholarships and continues to mentor ROTC students, some from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, where he earned his undergraduate degrees.
“The General has had a strong but surprisingly gentle effect on the college and its relationship to its students,” wrote Dennis Irwin, dean of the Russ College, via e-mail.
“With the General, it has always been about the students, as it should be.”
Edwards, the center director, wants “to ensure what we provide here is known by students,” and Daniels applauds the outfit for its “good customer-service atmosphere.”
—Sara Jerde, BSJ ’15
My runway, connection, & hangar: Athens & OHIO
I grew up in Athens and, like many residents, considered the town and its university synonymous. However, both felt small to a wild teenager with big dreams. Departing to Point Loma Nazarene University at age 18, I had no plans to return save to visit my family. But funny things can happen at cruising altitude.
Business Insider called 2009 the “year the newspaper died,” as 105 ceased printing, including my own Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Ten thousand of us in the print world lost our jobs in a collapsing economy. And I, with countless peers, lost my career.
I had spent 12 years in the industry. I had never done anything else for a living. I had never wanted to do anything else. When the press box is your office, when you tell stories that entertain and inform, when you eat free hotdogs at halftime, other vocations pale—and terrify.
What was I going to do: Put on a suit and clock in at a corporate cubicle? Nope.
I chose a holding pattern—one year of graduate school. A master’s degree in journalism, with a concentration in digital skills, new prerequisites in the evolving marketplace. Then, refortified with qualifications, I’d find another sportswriting job.
I applied to a handful of schools nationwide. When Joe Bernt, now professor emeritus of the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism, offered me a teaching assistantship and stipend, I went home again.
I landed in the best of both worlds: immediate family and new academic kinships.
Learning and, especially, teaching thrilled me.
Students asked questions about craft and careers. I answered professionally and personally. We connected.
So I stayed for a Ph.D.
But part of me missed my former life: the excitement of games, the sagas of players, the competition, the travel.
Then something shook the foundation of sports: the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. I teetered between disillusion and excitement. I was distraught that we in the field and on the sidelines had overlooked so much. Yet I was inspired by the work that everyone—teams, officials, media, fans—needed to do.
Covering college football had prepared me to understand zealous participants and rabid spectators when it came to consumption. OHIO gave me the intellectual tools to analyze the systemic failure of the cover-up, the blind spots of fanatic consumers, and the clarion call for reforms.
I was right where I was supposed to be!
I told students, colleagues, and mentors, “Hey, I love sports, too. But if we root without reflection, we contribute to
Thanks to my OHIO professors and students, and to lifelong supporters in Athens, I arrived at my final destination: academia.
I am an assistant professor of journalism at Quinnipiac University. In research and teaching, I try to ensure that sports journalists see the games clearly as pieces of a complex cultural puzzle.
I can’t imagine doing anything else. But I know I can change course again if necessary. And there’s no better place to do it than OHIO.
—Molly Yanity, MS ’11, PHD ’13
Actress relaunches actress
Fact: Nobody makes it in show business alone. Actress star and Ohio University alumna Brandy Burre knows that maybe more than most.
In the 2014 film, Burre seems to portray herself at home; the story places the titular character in a rustic house in Upstate New York with her two young children and long-term boyfriend—mirroring Burre’s actual existence—domesticity now her main role. The portrait has enthralled most critics, who respond to the intimacy, and baffled some, who cannot tell if the movie is documentary or fiction.
Burre returned to OHIO in the spring to screen Actress at the Athena Cinema, one of many stops along the film festival circuit for the independent hit. Students, faculty, and alumni packed the venue to hear insights afterward at a Q&A with the Bobcat and with the film’s director and co-producer, Robert Greene. He is Burre’s next-door neighbor in Beacon, N.Y.; their proximity further complicates whether to interpret the flick as real life or
Regardless, Actress has helped revive the buzz around Burre after she took time off to raise her two kids, and Burre has presented it not only across the country but also internationally at cities such as Hong Kong, Auckland, London, and Istanbul.
While in Athens with the movie, Burre, BFA ’96, MFA ’99, also gave an interview on WOUB Public Media with Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies, College of Fine Arts, Maureen Wagner, MA ’98, formerly in the
School of Theater.
In the roughly 30-minute exchange, Burre recounts how OHIO played a significant part in the development of her
acting career, which includes the breakout role of Theresa D’Agostino in HBO’s critically acclaimed “The Wire.” With acting, Burre says, you can’t stay autonomous for long.
“You realize, especially in graduate school, that you are a troupe. Acting is all about interaction,” she explains. “So whoever you are interacting with are pretty special, amazing people that you need to tend to and take care of.”
Listen to the Burre WOUB interview to learn more about her work in Actress and about OHIO’s positive influence on her.
—Kelee Garrison Riesbeck, BSJ ’91 assistant director, Advancement Communication & Marketing
With some creative folding, wrist flicks, and boundless enthusiasm, scores of Ohio University students became de facto pilots in March at the world’s largest international paper airplane contest.
Walter Fieldhouse transformed into a makeshift runway one Friday night in this qualifying event for Red Bull’s Paper Wings Competition. Contestants hoped to win a spot on the American team that traveled to Salzburg, Austria, in May to battle top contenders worldwide.
Paper Wings, part of an OHIO Relay for Life cancer research fundraiser, attracted a diverse crowd of 68 participants who entered up to three challenges: distance, airtime, and aerobatics. Rules stipulated that vessels be made from one piece of
standard 8.3 inch x 11.7 inch A4 paper—what’s used in printers and scanners.
Caroline Hildebrand, a junior electrical engineering major, drew attention with 19 entries in aerobatics. “Everyone, please, fasten your seatbelts. We are going to be expecting some turbulence,” she announced before firing off the planes, each executing multiple midair flips, as spectators oohed. Unlike most participants, who seemed to enter on a whim, Hildebrand was, as she put it, “in it to win it.”
Pop music blasted. Competitors hooted. And Relay for Life walkers detoured to watch. Some contestants strode up to the line to take their turns; others laughed when approaching it; still more were encouraged—pushed—by friends. A few of the pseudo aviators declared that they had practiced the night before. Most, apparently, winged it. Blueprints and calculations to make engineers and mathematicians proud? Not so much.
Carly Hartman, a junior studying athletic training, folded her plane in deliberate fashion for the distance segment. “I’m a craftsman with this sort of thing,” she explained with
a smile. “I’ve designed this plane for competition!”
Members of the OHIO Flying Bobcats flight team, part of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, attended both to compete and to raise awareness for their organization.
Corey Fisher, a junior in the aviation flight program, built a sharp, jet-like plane a few minutes before his launch in the distance event. He said he wanted to “represent the Flight Team and to have fun at the same time.” Fisher added, “Plus, free Red Bull doesn’t hurt.”
First place in each event won a Red Bull signature series backpack, second place a Google Chromecast, and third place a case of Red Bull.
—Kelly Limpert, BSJ ’15
Practically perfect make-believe
Mary Poppins took flight at Ohio University’s Baker Theater this summer after tireless hours of rehearsal, body harnesses supported by wires connected to a pulley system, and a bit of magic.
Ohio Valley Summer Theater, with help from On the Fly rigging company, spent three days preparing the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” illusion of human flight, to borrow a hit song by the famed Sherman brothers from the family-friendly musical about a nanny who can fly.
The fantasy, paradoxically, makes the entertainment seem real for audience and troupe alike, said Bonnie Hall, who portrayed Mary Poppins, and who teaches voice at OHIO. “Here is this person who is just disappearing into the sky, you know? Not just walking offstage or disappearing into a trapdoor but actually disappearing into the sky and the magic goes with her.” Thus, the imperative of the
Mary Poppins the stage version, debuting in 2004, follows the 1964 Disney movie musical based on children’s books by P. L. Travers and starring Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke as her friend Bert, a chimney sweep. Literally descending on the scene via an umbrella, Mary Poppins totes a bottomless carpetbag of wonders and snaps her enchanted fingers to care for the two unruly young children of a well-off but strict father and a distracted but affectionate mother in 1910 London. Other popular numbers include “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”
Ohio Valley Summer Theater’s lofty effect required considerable technical planning, physical exertion, safety precautions, and signal training.
“First thing, we have to work with the artistic and creative staff to understand where we’re going to fly and what we want to achieve out of the flight,” said Jason Whicker, owner/president and aerial choreographer for On the Fly, based in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Then, we’ll pick the right equipment,” and “inspect the theater.”
Next comes installing the apparatus and then instructing the company on mechanics—two crew members hauling each performer. Logistics span ascent, descent, turns, proper posture for actors, avoiding rope burns for operators, and connecting and disconnecting cables.
And how to communicate, said Gregory Hofmeister, a junior music education major, who depicted Bert—and who took the role despite being afraid of heights. Thumbs up means go up; thumbs down, go down. And remember to face your lifters.
Such basics prove vital, Whicker said, because the operator could drop the performer or the cast member could “come down wrong,” twist an ankle, or “fly into
Fly captain Max Pendel, a senior studying production, design, and technology, called the tasks simple yet exhausting. “It’s definitely cool,” he said, creating the illusion, and “really scary” being responsible for
Only after these preliminaries does Whicker choreograph.
Other than a busted lip, Hall soared through the initial flight rehearsal.
“At first, I had all this energy and adrenaline, like, ‘Oh, I’m going to go up in the air and fly!’ Then when they lifted me up, it was so gentle, like, ‘Am I still on the ground?’” she said. “It was very smooth.”
And essential. “Part of the magic of Mary Poppins is that you actually get to see her fly,” said director Aurora Held, BSS ’12, MFA ’15. “You need that aspect of the play in order to be true to the play.”
Hall agreed. “She’s all about magic.” And flight “makes it all happen.”
—Maygan Beeler, BSJ ’17
Reading up on OHIO
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