Michael Hoggarth

From Where Professor Michael Hoggarth Stands

Note: Faculty/Staff Campaign Committee Chair Michael Hoggarth shared the following remarks at the Welcome Back convocation to help announce the campaign and its initiatives on August 18, 2014 the campus community. He is a professor and chair of the Department of Biology and Earth Science.

I have been a part of the Otterbein community for 22 years.

I’m here today because I want you to know why I STAND with Otterbein.

I also want you to know why I decided to serve as the chairman of the faculty-staff committee for the University’s largest-ever comprehensive campaign.

Earlier this summer, I was sitting with a small group of Ph.D. students in the dining hall at Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie, where I teach field zoology. Each of these students was describing how he or she would finish the degree in a year or less and their apprehension and anxiety with finding that first job. 

I told them a story about the time I was in their shoes, but instead of a discussion around a breakfast table it was in a huge lecture hall at an AAAS meeting surrounded by other graduate students (standing room only), all of us drawn to the session entitled, How to Land an Academic Job

The panel was informative—I’m sure—but the only thing I remember about the session was that at the end, in a bit of frustration, following quite a large number of questions from the soon-to-be-job-seeking audience, one of the presenters simply stated, “If you’re good, you’ll get a job.” 

It had been my dream since the ninth grade to someday be a professor of biology, although I didn’t know what that meant.  And a few years after that panel, I discovered I was good—I made it, I got a job and that job was here.

After the interview process and the job offer, I received a note from Simon Lawrance (by mail none-the-less) asking that I seriously consider the college’s offer and that he hoped I would decide to take the job. I still have that note.  Perhaps he knew I would be taking a cut in salary coming to Otterbein from the Ohio Department of Transportation, but his encouragement, although much appreciated, was unnecessary—I wanted that job. 

Otterbein saw my potential. The college gave me a chance to prove myself. In the years that followed, that investment grew. As a result, I had the chance to further my scholarly pursuits, focus my work and develop my strengths as a teacher and a researcher.

I stand with Otterbein because Otterbein saw value in me.

Today, I am honored to share details of Otterbein’s largest comprehensive campaign in history—a campaign that reminds us that “Where We STAND Matters.”

Over the next five years, we will endeavor to raise a total of $50 million dollars for these three priorities.

They are:

  • Campus Renewal
  • Building a Model Community, and
  • Access and Affordability

We will raise $15 million dollars in support of Campus Renewal.

The Campus Renewal funding priority challenges us to serve as responsible stewards of all that we have.

Whether it is a laboratory in the Science Building where students and faculty explore the fundamental questions of nature…

Or this very stage where acting careers are launched…

Or the trees that shade historic Towers Hall and that lure our future students…

Otterbein’s facilities and green spaces are among the university’s greatest assets.

Our campus connects faculty, students, staff, alumni and guests.

It serves as a home to our learning experiences and an incubator for the greatness we hope our students aspire to achieve. 

Campus Renewal gives Otterbein resources to protect and enhance that engagement and experience. It gives more support for the master plan while creating a standing fund to maintain and enhance facilities in the future.

Currently, the largest funded project is the turf and track, with $1.6 million in support.

Through Campus Renewal, the University also has secured gifts that brought both the past science and equine campaigns to a close. One of those gifts included a $1.5 million endowment for the Austin E. Knowlton Equine Science Center.

Finally, one other note of significance. We have a solid running start for a new University Campus Center, which includes the Dr. Joanne Van Sant Office of Student Affairs Endowment.

In fact, the majority of the remaining funds raised for Campus Renewal will help Otterbein realize an improved Campus Center.

This is about more than enhancing a University hub. It will be about creating a space and a resource for students as they begin to test and grow their understanding of what it means to a part of a model community.

Building a Model Community is another one of the Campaign’s funding priorities.

When we raise $18 million in support of Building a Model Community, we will give departments, programs, faculty and students a strong and stable link to resources.

As chair of the Department of Life and Earth Sciences (now Biology and Earth Science), I have had the opportunity to hire staff and faculty. 

Each of these hires has affirmed my belief in the quality of our people and over time, as we have learned to work together, the value of our collective efforts. 

I teach about biodiversity and tell my students that biodiversity isn’t simply the number of species that inhabit an area—that’s species richness. There will be a quiz at the end.  

Biodiversity is species richness multiplied by the number of interactions these organisms form with each other.  Described in this way, biodiversity is greater than the sum of its species parts.

I stand with Otterbein because the value of our collective efforts soars beyond what any one of us could ever do alone. 

Because I believe in this so strongly, I funded an endowed faculty award in my department.  This fund has helped support research on frogs and fossils, microbes to molecules.  Faculty and students both have benefited from these few dollars.

What else does it mean to build a model community?

It means giving the Enrollment Management Division the resources they need to implement the strategic enrollment plan to recruit future generations of talented and promising students in an increasingly competitive market.

Fellowships, research, faculty development, classroom and laboratory enhancements and creative campus initiatives are critical to the work we do. They are an important part of building a model community.

Consider, for example, Dr. Aaron Reinhard, an assistant professor of physics.  He will tell you that one piece of equipment—a laser—is all that stands in the way of real progress in his research.  Having this tool could mean a breakthrough—the kind of discovery that could contribute to data security, encryption and code-breaking technology.

Building a Model Community also means supporting the best ways to help our students learn.

What if all that stands in the way of a student’s ability to make real contributions to their discipline is the chance to travel for research or an internship or some form of cultural immersion and engagement?

A model community understands a travel fund means more of John Tansey’s students could present their research findings at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

It means Dan Steinberg can encourage his students to accept prestigious internships in New York City because a travel fund will help defray living expenses.

It means nursing students can travel to South America to experience the power of their care through medical clinics in remote villages.

As an institution, if we are truly going to have strong, stable resources to build a model community, then we need to diversify our revenue.

We need to find other means to fund our creativity and to foster innovation that includes unrestricted giving for the institution.

You might be pleased to know the Annual Fund team has momentum—2014 was the fourth consecutive record-breaking year for Otterbein’s Annual Fund.

Additional unrestricted funds to Build Otterbein’s Model Community have come in through realized bequests and contributions to the general endowment fund.

Diversifying our revenue comes through an increase in the Annual Fund and through increasing the general operating endowment. But we are also looking to create more endowed funds that provide departmental support.

Consider the Kay Dornan Ciminello Memorial Music Fund—a $25,000 campaign gift made in honor of a 1959 graduate who was tragically killed in an accident while traveling to meet with her Otterbein sisters. This new endowed fund, created in Kay’s memory, is an added resource to help the Music Department.

Former students of Larry Cox contributed nearly $14,000 to create a fund for professional development in the psychology department. 

Finally, Building a Model community means securing funds that enhance the faculty and student experience. 

University Board Chairman Mark Thresher and his wife Debbie, as one of their initial commitments to the Campaign, will give $350,000 to promote experiential learning opportunities for faculty and students.

The Threshers’ fellowship recognizes that it is just as valuable for faculty to have that kind of learning experience as it is for students.  This Fellowship will alternate each year between a student and a faculty member until the fund can support two fellowships at a minimum of $5,000 each.

Finally, the Campaign has received almost $1.8 million in kind. That translates to giving our students state of the art equipment to be used to learn, to compete and to perform. These gifts have, or will, provide horses for Equine Science, a new practice basketball court in the Rike Center and musical instruments.

And on that note, we’ll discuss the final campaign funding priority—Access and Affordability.

We will raise $17 million for this funding priority.

And here is why...

The reason we are all here comes down to this fact: 

There are students to teach and lives to change.  

That was my experience as a first generation college student at Seattle Pacific University. 

Many of our students are just like I was in 1973 when I first stepped onto a college campus.  We knew college would be different than high school, but we didn’t know how other than there were these blocks of time, sometimes entire days, when we would not be in class. 

We share something else too: some of these times were the most important times of our lives.  In my case it was time to think on my own, including reading books about evolution that simply rocked my fundamentalist upbringing world. 

It also was time to work with my research advisor on projects as varied as fighting behavior in tropical hermit crabs (my first published paper) to zooplankton diversity in the nearby estuaries and bays of Puget Sound (my first professional presentation). 

Otterbein students have similar, life-changing opportunities every day—some they encounter in the classroom, the field, or the laboratory while others they tend on their own. 

We hear about them at every commencement and we get the crib-notes with each email, phone call or letter sent to ask for a reference or share a success. 

I stand with Otterbein because changing lives is our shared story—a story that grows with every new student that arrives on campus.

Otterbein stands for opportunity and has since the University’s first days.

Otterbein values talented, promising scholars who are eager to learn, to lead and to better themselves so they can better their world.

We believe in rewarding hard work and offering support to make sure more students have the opportunity to benefit from our experience.

I’m fairly certain that we agree that cost should never prevent a great student from attending our University.

But even if we agree, that’s not enough. It is not enough to agree upon that value; to believe that, we have to act upon it.

If Otterbein stands for opportunity then we need to make sure that scholarships and enhanced learning experiences make it possible for students—regardless of their financial circumstances—to be able to access and afford an Otterbein education.

Nearly 30 percent of our students come from families with the means to make only a very small contribution toward annual college costs. Many of them are first-generation college students striving to alter their life’s course by attaining an Otterbein degree.

If Otterbein stands for inclusiveness, then we need to make sure we are attracting and competing for the best, the brightest, the most deserving and the most promising students.

If Otterbein stands for learning, then we need to make sure all who stand to gain the most from what each one of us has to offer will have the opportunity to call themselves a Cardinal.

To date, there are 119 scholarships that have received funding for the Campaign. Their purposes are as varied and as meaningful as each student who will ultimately benefit from receiving them.

They are specific to programs of study—like the Lewis E. Myers Scholarship, a $1-million-dollar endowed scholarship for education majors.

They are specific to purposes that have significant meaning for each donor—like the Phillip L. Johnson Endowed Scholarship for a Second Chance. This fund was created by a gift of $50,000 dollars from 1963 alumnus Phillip Johnson, who wanted to give other students the same second chance in life he credits Otterbein with giving him.

And they are specific to families who value their legacy at Otterbein.  Collectively, the Widdoes, Miller and Metzger Families Scholarship Fund has raised $52,000 dollars.

I am going to stop for a moment and have each of us look around at the colleagues and friends who are here this morning.

Each one of us stands here because someone along the way believed in us. Someone made sure we had the support we needed to do more, to be more.

Our work, our mentoring, our accomplishments…

Somewhere along the way, these experiences were possible ONLY because of scholarships, grants, aid and assistance that helped us earn our degrees or find a job.

They allowed us to stand out as individuals who were deserving of a chance.

And that is what it means to make access and affordability a priority. 

I am proud to stand as the chairman of the Faculty-Staff Committee for this comprehensive campaign.

And I’ll remind you why…

  • I stand with Otterbein because Otterbein saw value in me.
  • I stand with Otterbein because the value of our collective efforts is more than what any one of us could ever do alone.
  • I stand with Otterbein because changing lives is our shared story.

I stand with Otterbein and I give to Otterbein because I believe in what Otterbein stands for.

The question I ask you to consider over the weeks, the months and the years ahead is this—and here’s the pitch:

Will you join me? Will you stand with Otterbein?

What kind of space and facilities and environment do we want our colleagues and our students to have for learning and working?  THAT is why this campaign STANDS for Campus Renewal.

What kind of resources will your counterparts need to teach and inspire discovery? What kind of life changing experiences do we value so much that we will help fund them for our students? THAT is why this campaign STANDS for Building a Model Community.

What kind of students will be Cardinals—just those who can afford to attend, or all students who hold promise of a brighter future?  Who will have the opportunity to learn here? Who will benefit from Otterbein’s excellence?  THAT is why this campaign STANDS for Access and Affordability.

What future will you help this University write?

From where I stand—in my daily work in the classroom, the laboratory, the hallways and in the field—we are all better for such a place as Otterbein.

And that is why I believe that Where We STAND Matters.

Thank you.



Giving to Otterbein

Gifts of all sizes bolster the collective strength of the STAND initiative.  Through your contribution, you join other donors in making a significant, immediate and lasting difference in the Otterbein community.


Otterbein volunteers have always played a critical role for the University. Your role as a campaign volunteer is to cultivate and develop and shape the Institution's future by helping to raise Otterbein's profile, advocating for support, and securing resources for specific initiatives. 

Contact Us

The Division of Institutional Advancement is located in Howard House at 131 W. Park St.

Office Hours
M-F: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

614.823.1400 or 1-888-614-2600