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Otterbein Towers: A Legacy of Education - The Phinneys

Otterbein Towers: A Legacy of Education - The Phinneys


Editor's Note: This and other stories appear in the Summer 2017 edition of Otterbein Towers Magazine, available online now.


Dr. Melinda (Mindy) Phinney ’85 grew up with Otterbein in her blood. Her father, George Phinney, was a professor of life science from 1962-1992, retiring with emeritus status. Her mother, Donnalea Cain Phinney ’75, graduated from Otterbein a decade before Mindy.

“We spent a lot of time at Otterbein,” said Mindy. “My father was very involved with the College — academically, as a trustee, and with the Athletic Department and the ‘O’ Club.”

The Phinney family legacy is one of education. “He felt strongly in the value of education and welcomed the opportunity to teach at Otterbein,” Mindy said of her father. “He was not only a professor to his students, he has built long-lasting friendships with many of them.”

“He held very high expectations of his students and to this day, enjoys hearing about their success.  He has a profound sense of pride and admiration for what they have accomplished,” she said.

Her fondness of Otterbein since her childhood was only one factor in Mindy’s decision to become a Cardinal. “I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, and I felt the pre-med program at Otterbein was stellar,” said Mindy, who completed her medical degree in 1989.

As a student, she saw another side of her father—as her own professor. As a member of the faculty, George hooded both his wife and daughter at their respective graduation ceremonies.

“I was never shown any favoritism, nor pushed any harder than he pushed all of his students,” Mindy said. “He gave pop quizzes during his classes to be sure we were all studying daily. The first one he gave that fall, I received a D.”

Now a nephrologist with Northeast Ohio Nephrology Associates, Inc., in Akron, with teaching responsibilities, Mindy still recalls a basketball, signed from the entire team, she received for her birthday as a child and dancing in the May Pole Dance.

“My experience is unique because I spent much more than the typical four years every other student enjoyed on campus. Otterbein, to me, is much more than an institution of higher learning. I rarely encounter people who have the same affection for their alma mater that my friends and family have toward Otterbein,” she said.

“I have remained connected to Otterbein due to the profound influence attending there has made on my life. In a sense, my genetic family, and Otterbein family, are inextricably interwoven,” she said. “The relationships that form there, whether among classmates, between students and teachers, or with other alumni are like family.”

“Otterbein, like my genetic family, encouraged me to consider the blessings and gifts of being a part of something larger than myself,” she added. “In this sense, I’ve wanted to ‘pay-forward’ so that other current and future students could enjoy a similar experience — not only in lifelong learning, but being a thoughtful and considerate citizen of our communities.”


Read the entire Summer 2017 edition of Otterbein Towers Magazine online now.