Excellence in Academics

Systems Engineering

Otterbein’s systems engineering program has earned accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), an internationally recognized agency that accredits programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. For Otterbein’s systems engineering students, the ABET accreditation will allow them to continue their education with professional licensures, registrations, and certifications.

Master of Science in Athletic Training

Beginning in fall 2022, accredited athletic training programs must prepare students at the graduate level. To meet this new requirement, Otterbein’s Health and Sport Sciences Program has developed and will launch its new Master of Science in Athletic Training program summer 2023, with the first graduating class anticipated in spring semester 2025.

Actuarial Science

Otterbein is the only private school in Ohio with an actuarial science program recognized for an “Advanced Curriculum” by the Society of Actuaries.

Teaching Awards

Teaching in Excellence Part-Time Faculty Teaching Awardees
Victoria Frisch (History, Political Science, and Modern Languages) and Melinda Murphy (Theatre and Dance).

New Teacher of the Year Full-Time Faculty Award
Brandon Sinn (Biology and Earth Science)

Teacher of the Year Full-Time Faculty Award
Kristina Escondo (History, Political Science, and Modern Languages)

Exemplary Teaching Award from the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education
Tammy Birk (English)

Teaching Awards

L to R: Victoria Frisch, Melinda Murphy, Brandon Sinn, Tammy Birk, and Kristina Escondo.

130th Anniversary of Otterbein’s First African American Graduate

Otterbein’s First Black Graduate William Henry Fouse ’1893 In His Own Words.

Otterbein University’s first Black graduate, William Henry Fouse, class of 1893, was a teacher, a principal, a lifelong learner, a musician, and an inspiration to students and educators in his 45 years of work in public education. On the 130th anniversary of his graduation from Otterbein, there is no one better to tell his story than Fouse himself.

In 1927, Fouse wrote to Mrs. George Alexander of Westerville, thanking her for an invitation to the Westerville High School Golden Anniversary. He wrote:

“I will not be garrulous but I must say that I was born in your beautiful town 59 years ago, son of two slaves who came to Ohio from bondage and never were able to read or write. They gave 27 years of their lives without recompense. I was born in a log cabin a mile or so from Westerville.”

Fouse’s family later purchased a house on Home Street, where William and his two brothers were raised. In 1889 his father, Squire, purchased a home that had been owned by William Hanby and had it moved to a plot of land on Home Street, where the Campus Center is today. In an article written for the Westerville Public Opinion in 1938, Fouse wrote:

“Three interests dominated the life of Squire Fouse. They were a home, the education of his children, and his church. If he could speak now, (he) would say that the spirit and literary gifts of Ben Hanby had been infused into his own son, and that he, though a slave for many years, had made the correct appraisal of the magic and power of education.”

Fouse was the first Black graduate of both Westerville High School and Otterbein University.

According to Otterbein historian Harold Hancock, “[Fouse] taught school in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, serving as principal of Dunbar School in Lexington, KY, for 24 years. In Kentucky he organized the Bluegrass Oratorical Association and Bluegrass Athletic Association, instituted the Penny Saving Bank Plan in schools, and guided the development of Dunbar School into a modern school. He became president of the Kentucky National Education Association [in 1937]. Just before he retired in 1937, he received an M.A. from the University of Cincinnati.”

That same year, Otterbein gave him the honorary degree, Doctor of Pedagogy.

William Henry Fouse died on June 1, 1944. His work continues to bear fruit today in the schools of Lexington, KY, where he worked for a quarter of a century, and in his hometown of Westerville, where an elementary school bears his name, and his alma mater hosts The William Henry Fouse House of Black Culture. In addition, he continues to inspire us over a century later through his writings.

Henry William Fouse wrote of his father, Squire Fouse:

“He, though a slave for many years, had made the correct appraisal of the magic and power of education.”

Inspiring Graduates of 2023

These students from the Class of 2023 represent a small sampling of the excellence heading out into the world. We congratulate our graduates and look forward to news of their future successes.

Jenna McPeek

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Equine Pre-Veterinary

“The fact that Otterbein allows me to complete two unrelated majors and make them related is special. I also value the flexibility of my schedule being at a smaller school.”

Jenna McPeek excelled on horseback and in the classroom. She is a member of Otterbein’s national championship-winning equestrian team and landed a competitive lab internship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. After graduating from Otterbein, she plans to pursue both master’s and doctorate degrees.

Jenna McPeak
Timmy Wotring

Timmy Wotring

Public Relations & Communication Studies

“Otterbein has given each and every one of us an opportunity to make our college experience what we want it to be. I’m thankful for my time at Otterbein and excited to see the growth Otterbein has moving forward!”

Timmy Wotring is a familiar face on campus as an active student leader and current president of the Otterbein University Student Government. He has worked in the Office of Admission, served as an Orientation Leader, and been active in Greek life. He found the right fit working in higher education and plans to attend graduate school for a master’s degree in higher education.

Gabriela Ahumada Mier y Concha

Theatre Design & Technology

“I love the Otterbein community. Otterbein helps you learn more and leaves you with a network you can rely on. I have honestly had so many great professors who in their own ways have helped me so much, it has truly been a pleasure being in their classes. They have taught me things that have made me a better-rounded artist and person.”

Gabriela Ahumada Mier y Concha is giving a global perspective to her theatre career. While at Otterbein, she interned with the Des Moines Metro Opera and participated in study abroad travels with the Art Department to London, Rome, and Florence. Next up, she will be attending a master’s program in fine arts in England with a focus on stage design and scenic paint.

Gabriela Ahumada Mier Y Concha
Nick Wile

Nick Wile

Mechanical Engineering

“Otterbein helped me pave my path for my career and introduced me to friends that I know I will keep for a lifetime. I learned so much about what I enjoy and what I want to do for a career moving forward from the research positions I held under my engineering professors and an internship that Otterbein helped make happen.”

When he’s not on the lacrosse field earning OAC honors, Nick Wile spends most of his time at The Point, where he has served as a research assistant for Associate Professor of Engineering Mike Hudoba’s research of DNA nanotechnology design, and as a laboratory assistant in the Biomechanics Institute. He was also an engineering intern at Aviation Medical. After graduation, he will pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on biomechanics at The Ohio State University.

Hannah Sturgeon

Environmental Science, Sustainability Studies, and Political Science

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I had from my Otterbein family. From my friends in my classes to my supportive professors and the amazing administration, ‘Only at Otterbein’ truly is the perfect phrase.”

Hannah Sturgeon has been working as a fellow for the Legislative Service Commission with a focus in finance policy for the Ohio House of Representatives since graduating with three majors in December. In addition to serving as a student trustee at Otterbein, she was a CardinalCorps Leader and co-leader of Raise Your Voice, Otterbein’s studentled, non-partisan, voter education and registration organization. She was also involved in student government, Alpha Lambda Delta/Phi Eta Sigma national honor societies, and Women for Economic Leadership Development.

Hannah Sturgeon
Gabe Sharrock

Gabe Sharrock

Allied Health

“The thing that I will miss the most when I graduate is my daily interactions with everyone on campus. That includes classmates, professors, teammates, coaches, food service staff, and everyone else that makes this campus so amazing. There is a sense of community on the Otterbein campus, and I am going to miss being a part of that every day.”

Soccer standout and academic all-star Gabe Sharrock plans to spend the next year working in the medical field before he applies to physician assistant graduate school programs. On the men’s soccer team, he won athletic All-OAC and academic All-OAC honors three-times, as well as all-conference, all-regional, and all-state honors.

Madelyn Nelson

Public Relations

“The individualized opportunities available on campus are amazing. The one-on-one attention with professors and staff and the opportunity to build relationships with students and teachers made Otterbein perfect for me.”

Madelyn Nelson has paved the way for an exciting career by sampling several industries as an intern: higher education with Otterbein’s Office of Marketing and Communications, professional sports with the Columbus Crew, craft brewing with Columbus Brewing Company, and a major national corporation with Southwest Airlines. On campus, she took leadership roles as a student trustee on the Otterbein Board of Trustees and recruitment chair for Sigma Alpha Tau.

Madelyn Nelson
Logan Nelson

Logan Nelson

Psychology & Criminology & Justice Studies

“The individualized opportunities available on campus are amazing. The one-on-one attention with professors and staff and the opportunity to build relationships with students and teachers made Otterbein perfect for me.”

Madelyn Nelson has paved the way for an exciting career by sampling several industries as an intern: higher education with Otterbein’s Office of Marketing and Communications, professional sports with the Columbus Crew, craft brewing with Columbus Brewing Company, and a major national corporation with Southwest Airlines. On campus, she took leadership roles as a student trustee on the Otterbein Board of Trustees and recruitment chair for Sigma Alpha Tau.

Students Working to Create an Environmentally Sustainable Campus

In a 2022 survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse, 85% of college students say it’s important for their campus to prioritize sustainability. At Otterbein, students are taking leadership roles in developing sustainability projects and educating others on topics from pollinators and recycling to food waste.





on Campus with Smaller Impact on the Environment

Hannah BrownSenior Hannah Brown, a double major in biology and zoo and conservation science, has been working with Facility Services on a project to plan a pollinator and rain garden since spring 2022. Now, in her final semester, the gardens are ready to be planted north of the Campus Center, with Facility Services planting an additional pollinator garden at The Point.

Brown received funding for the project from the Otterbein Sustainability Committee and a Vernon Pack Fellowship of $1,000, as well as a seed donation from Marci Lininger, a district environmental coordinator at the Ohio Department of Transportation. Professor Jeff Lehman and the Otterbein Chapter of the Botanical Society of America recommended native plants for the garden.

Rain gardens improve drainage, purify storm water runoff, and prevent erosion using a combination of rocks and deep-rooted plants. Brown stressed the importance of using native plants as habitat for bees, songbirds, and butterflies in this plan.

“We’re losing pollinator species, and they’re in great decline all throughout the world. Just by starting off small, we can make a big difference in the pollinator species around Otterbein,” she said.

Brown hopes students will use the gardens in many ways.

Although he retired from Abbott Labs in 2018, Cordle says he was mesmerized as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He closely followed the race to develop a vaccine to combat it.

“Students can go out and collect observational data for research projects, or just go out and use the garden for leisure. There are going to be signs talking about the different plants that are there and the types of pollinators you might see,” said Brown. She also hopes it will inspire more projects across campus.


Student Organizations

In addition to the students profiled in this story, these student leaders are running programs to educate their peers about sustainability issues:

Animal Conservation Club
Payton Chatfield

Bellastar Jakresky, Evan
Friend, and Breanna Teece

Plan-It Earth
Abby Hanselman,
Phoebe Gibson, and
Tess Gallaspie

Student Taking Picture

Otterbein Animal Coalition
Lauren Fedder

Kendall Sestili

Hannah Brown and
Eli Gould

Katelyn Shelton

Students also kick-started a new initiative by the campus Sustainability Committee.

Lucas Patel

Junior Lukas Patel, a studio art major with a ceramics concentration, brought concerns about campus recycling from the Otterbein University Student Government to the Sustainability Committee. As a member of both, Patel has a unique opportunity to generate change.

The biggest concern was the mixing of recycling and trash on campus. As a result, the Sustainability Committee is starting a “Recycling Reboot” following conversations with students, faculty, staff, and Rumpke, Otterbein’s waste management vendor.

Patel explained that this project was created to divert items going into the landfill and improve recycling habits on campus. “The plan will start with a focus on the things we can recycle correctly and phase in more items as we are able to educate everyone on campus. Creating better signage for all recycling and trash bins is included in this plan,” he said.

“The reboot has already begun as a pilot in Roush Hall, and we hope to fully implement the plan across campus in the fall,” Patel said.

Brown hopes students will use the gardens in many ways.

As for the student role in this project, he said, “I think it is essential to have student voices in conversations affecting campus, like this committee does.”

Associate Professor Bethany Vosburg-Bluem, chair of the Sustainability Committee, agrees. “I believe it truly takes a whole community to successfully contribute to sustainability efforts and student voices and participation are both essential.”


Rachel MalekFirst-year Student Rachel Malek, used an art class project to educate others about food waste. For Art 1150: Design 3D, the freshman art and psychology major created a board game.

“I was inspired to make this game because I think teaching people about certain food groups might help people better understand the choices that they make when shopping or throwing their food away,” said Malek.

The four-player game, Let’s Taco ‘Bout Food Waste, is designed with lunch tray-styled game boards and food chips with “trash points” based on the environmental impact of the food. ​For instance, salmon is ranked as a six because it contains chemicals that contaminate water and hurt biodiversity. Mushrooms are zero because they are natural decomposers and help the environment.

“I found out that for a lot of healthier foods, there’s a lot of fertilizer that goes into production,” said Malek.


Dean of Student Engagement Melissa Gilbert advocates for the student leaders and environmentalists on campus. “They are applying the skills from their academic pursuits to the big questions in front of us and are showing their peers that change is possible. Illuminating possibility is one of the best ways to mobilize others to get involved, whether it is the possibility of a butterfly landing on the coneflower, or the plastic bottle from your soda making its way to a recycling facility,” said Gilbert.

students painted rocks for the pollinator garden

Academic Programs:

Students with an academic interest in sustainability and the environment can combine their interest in science with their passion for the planet in these programs:

International Student Finds Success on Campus and the Baseball Field

The Journey of a Japanese student who finds his home-away-from-home at Otterbein.

HARUKI TADA ’24 chose Otterbein sight unseen, as barriers during the COVID- 19 pandemic forced the Japanese baseball player to make a college decision without ever stepping foot on campus. Once he was on campus, he found a supportive and welcoming community dedicated to his success.

A native of Tokyo, Tada began forming a unique relationship with head coach George Powell while attending IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Powell visited Tada three times during Otterbein’s 2020 spring break trip and became intrigued with the dual talent, who could play the infield and pitch.

“Coach Powell was such a big influence for me,” Tada said. “He made me feel really comfortable even though I had never been here. He made sure I met everyone and felt good about this new journey. I’ve never felt like I don’t fit in.”

Questions arose about Tada actually showing up when messages through WhatsApp went unanswered for most of that summer due to internet issues. But Powell received a message in August from the 5-foot-5 recruit, saying he would be in Westerville the following day.

Since that time, Powell has completed Japanese lessons on the Duolingo app and even suggested he would consider sponsoring Tada for dual citizenship down the line.

“It’s been a real pleasure watching him develop,” Powell said. “Seeing a young kid embrace our Otterbein culture and adjust to college is always rewarding for a coach, but especially Haruki’s acclimation. He brings such a positive energy and continues developing across all phases—athletics, academically, and socially.”

Tada spent his first two seasons as a backup/JV option but continues working for more opportunities on the diamond. In the classroom, he has a 3.55 cumulative GPA as a sport management major and finance minor.

“I was more nervous for the academic setting than baseball,” Tada said. “Some classes were overwhelming at first, but it’s taught me not to be shy or afraid of a challenge.”

He has formed quality relationships with many teammates, notably roommates/teammates Jamie Perebzak and Nick Plucinski.

His path recently opened the door for another player from Asia, Minseo Jang (MJ) from South Korea, to join the program at the recent semester break. The two were former teammates at IMG Academy and are now reunited.

Tada also completed an internship at IMG last summer, working as a camp counselor and on the operations side as a translator for other Japanese prospects. His long-term goal is to remain in the United States, obtain a work visa, and own a company helping more international/Asian student-athletes do what he’s done.

Haruki Tada with roommates/teammates Jamie Perebzak and Nick Plucinski

Haruki Tada with roommates/teammates Jamie Perebzak and Nick Plucinski.

Powerful Faculty Collaborations

Faculty Pairings Amplify The Power Of Collaboration

What happens when you make a smart pairing? At Otterbein, faculty collaborations are the norm but the outcomes these partnerships produce are anything but. From Integrative Studies collaborations, which bring seemingly disparate subjects together into one class, to research projects with multidisciplinary applications — faculty partnerships are inspiring knowledge, discovery, social change, and exciting studentlearning experiences. Art secrets unlocked. Global wellness initiatives. Injury prevention for senior citizens. Happiness and the good life. These collaborations highlight the expertise, passion, and purpose that double when Otterbein professors join forces.

For Department of Art and Art History instructor Janice Glowski and Professor and Chair of Chemistry Joan Esson, collaboration is a passion. In their Integrative Studies classes together, and in Otterbein’s museums and galleries, they teach that “an art project is a chemistry experiment in disguise.”

Glowski, as Otterbein’s director of museums and galleries and art historian, brings her degrees in Asian art history, comparative religious studies, and chemistry to the collaboration while Esson’s research and teaching focus includes technical art analysis and applications in environmental and clinical chemistry.

“Soon after I arrived on campus in 2014, I approached the Chemistry Department and talked about collaboration,” Glowski said. “Joan was the quickest to respond and we began a project looking at African masks in the Otterbein collection. My students recorded from where the masks originated, who used them, and the context in which they were used. Joan’s chemistry students took samples and used light fluorescence to discover what substances were found on the masks.”

The early collaboration previewed what the two departments could achieve together.

One such collaboration currently can be found in Otterbein’s Frank Museum, where art and chemistry students are working together on the C.Y. Woo Chinese painting art collection. A $98,000 Henry Luce Foundation grant procured by Glowski helps orchestrate student collaboration.

L to R: Professor and Department Chair Joan Esson + Instructor Janice Glowski making seal impressions using C.Y. Woo’s original paste.

L to R: Professor and Department Chair Joan Esson + Instructor Janice Glowski making seal impressions using C.Y. Woo’s original paste.

C.Y. Woo artwork from Otterbein’s collection.

Artwork with light fluorescence.

Top: C.Y. Woo artwork from Otterbein’s collection. Bottom: Artwork with light fluorescence.

Glowski has earned National Endowment for the Arts and Ohio Arts Council grants in support of her efforts. She has managed projects supported by the Mellon and Kress foundations and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has curated more than 20 exhibitions.

Esson actively involves undergraduate students in her work, is the co-principal investigator on the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Cardinal Scholars Program and is the co-lead on the Choose Ohio First Cardinal STEMM Scholars Program. She also enjoys her faculty-led study abroad course to Italy to study preservation and restoration of art.

“In Milan we visit Castello Sforzesco built in the 15th century, where Napoleon’s troops later plastered over art by Da Vinci,” Esson said. “We observe the restoration work, then go see The Last Supper in town. It’s amazing.”

Another collaborative partnership involves extending Otterbein’s community to rural Ugandan communities. Since 2016, professors Diane Ross in Education and Heidi Ballard in Sociology, Criminology, and Social Justice have collaborated in communities and remote rural Ugandan schools to implement Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and Sexual Reproductive Health Education (SRHE).

Ross has been traveling to Uganda since 2009 supported by her non-profit organization — Forum For Youth Advocacy (FOYA) Uganda — to engage more than 75 students and community members to improve literacy, education, health and wellness, gender equity, and community engagement in rural Uganda. This work led to building libraries in multiple communities.

“An exciting feature of this work is that the projects support sustainable development as they align with several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Ballard said.

Ross also was awarded a three-year Fulbright research grant to work with young adolescent development and teacher preparation. Ballard joined in 2016 to bring a global health perspective to the team. With partial funding from internal Otterbein grant awards, Ballard’s global health and sociological perspective helped to develop tools to measure the efficacy of the MHM/SRHE projects.

Ross and Ballard’s work incorporates participatory action research. In this methodology, community partnerships are developed to empower the local community members to create positive social change.

“We try to facilitate service-learning opportunities to empower American students to become global citizens,” Ross said.

In 2018, Ross and Ballard expanded their work from West Nile and Eastern Uganda to the Rwenzori Mountain region. They developed a partnership with an indigenous Bakonzo community who requested collaboration in establishing a community library, MHM/SRHE in their rural schools, and video recording of tribal elders’ climate change stories. Ballard earned the Otterbein High Impact Grant in 2022 to support the work along with FOYA funding.

“We envision a Uganda where youth are empowered to create and extend their skills and talents to build a strong future. We also hope we can contribute to an America where people value other cultures and ways of being,” Ross writes.

Professor Heidi Ballard (top far left) + Professor Diane Ross (second from top right) in Uganda.

Faculty partnerships are inspiring knowledge, discovery, social change, and exciting student learning experiences.

Assistant Professor of Engineering Elena Caruthers and Assistant Professor of Health and Sport Sciences Ashley Simons are using Otterbein’s Biomechanics Institute, created by the two departments, to study human movement. The lab is equipped with motion capture cameras and specialized software that allows Caruthers and Simons to record and analyze how people move.

Their latest work uses the lab’s camera system to focus on factors related to senior citizens’ risk of falls. Students are identifying best practices in senior citizens’ activities of daily living, including gait, rising from a chair, and stair climbing.

“We’re hoping to gather data to discover how people’s confidence levels affect their normal activities of daily living,” Caruthers said. “We have engineering and health science students working on the study, and we’re collaborating with the Lifelong Learning Community for study participants.”

L to R: Assistant Professor Ashley Simons + Assistant Professor Elena Caruthers.

L to R: Assistant Professor Ashley Simons + Assistant Professor Elena Caruthers.

Caruthers has had a passion for biomechanics ever since she was a dancer growing up but needed expertise on the clinical side. Simons is a doctorate-level physical therapist but realized she needed the biomechanical side. The collaboration was a natural fit.

The lab’s 10-camera Vicon Nexus system gives Caruthers and Simons the ability to study movement in three dimensions with great accuracy and precision. Once reflective markers are placed on various anatomical landmarks of the subject, the cameras track and recreate the subject’s three-dimensional movement. This data can then be further analyzed on a biomechanical level by examining variables like joint angles, velocities, and accelerations throughout the entire motion.

In other applications, Otterbein athletes use the lab to study, for example, their baseball pitching motions, and pinpoint specific biomechanical patterns that could be worked on to improve their delivery. But Caruthers and Simons are taking the technology to a different generation.

“By allowing us to evaluate body movement in senior citizens — to see how their joints are moving, how they use space, their velocity of movement,” Simons said, “we can correlate what we see in the physical world with the biomechanical measures in the data and perhaps help improve their movement during daily living activities to reduce the risk of falls.”

Caruthers and Simons hope to present their findings at conferences and in research journals.

Students are identifying best practices in senior citizens’ activities of daily living, including gait, rising from a chair, and stair climbing.

English Professor Jeremy Smith realized a few years ago his teaching and research interest in comparative literature would pair well with Associate Professor of History Richard Yntema’s focus on European economic and social histor y. Smith approached Yntema to teach an Integrative Studies course together, and that’s how INST 2204: Happiness and the Good Life was born.

In their course, Smith and Yntema lead students to discover how Western societies have defined “the good life” and the critical social challenges each society faced. They examine beliefs, culture, and conflicts over four eras: classical Athens, the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, and post-World War II Europe.

Jeremy Smith Richard Yntema

L to R: Associate Professor Richard Yntema + Professor Jeremy Smith.

“ Raising questions with students about concepts such as virtue and justice provides them with more of an openness to the past by looking at it in a multidimensional way.”

– Richard Yntema

“We have a lot of common interests,” Smith said. “I always thought it would be a true integrative course to teach the great works of Western literature in tandem with Western civilization concepts. That’s what we do.”

Smith and Yntema use the texts of classic literature and history to examine ancient concepts and compare them to contemporary topics. The class integrates the study of social, political, and economic history with the close reading of works by Sophocles, Dante, Mars, and Camus.

“Raising questions with students about concepts such as virtue and justice provides them with more of an openness to the past by looking at it in a multidimensional way,” Yntema said. “Examining the past and relating it to the present highlights juxtapositions and inequalities students may not have realized before or allows them to see current issues in new ways.”

Smith has pursued his research interests in religion, philosophy, and literature throughout his career. He is the author of The Staircase of a Patron, a book chronicling the United Brethren in Christ’s presence in Sierra Leone, with a special focus on the missionary work of Otterbein graduate Lloyd Mignerey ’1917.

Yntema’s research focuses on European economic and social history. He explores the development of capitalism in Holland before 1800 in a global framework. In 2010, he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Utrecht. In his courses he explores the Renaissance and Reformation, revolutions in early modern Europe, and global capitalism, among other eras.

The collaboration contributes a humanistic capstone to Otterbein’s Integrative Studies program and is a prime example of how Otterbein’s faculty community maintains Otterbein’s commitment to the contemporary significance of a liberal arts education.

Letter from President Comerford, Spring 2023

​Dear Friends,

We all have our little favorite memories, moments, and places at Otterbein. One of mine is at the back of Towers Hall, on the southwest corner of the building. In the mulch by the building are daylilies and I have noticed these particular daylilies are Otterbein’s first sign of spring. Their green shoots are the first to appear in February and their flowers the first to bloom in March. Seeing those green shoots appear is a better predictor than any groundhog that spring is coming.

And now it is here! Spring on campus is a frantic schedule of celebrations, performances, honorary inductions, and countless other events designed to mark the end of another school year, and for the Class of 2023 the culmination of their Otterbein education. It is exhilarating and all builds up to graduation day.

You will find some of that same energy in the pages of this magazine. Otterbein has so much going on, it can seem a little dizzying at times. But, it is all an expansion and celebration of what has always made this place so special. You can read more about the remarkable Class of 2023 — those whose first year on campus was cut short by a pandemic.

Antioch University And Otterbein Faculty And Staff
Antioch University and Otterbein faculty and staff gathered at Antioch’s Seattle Campus (in-person and virtually) for a Q&A panel discussion featuring Chet Haskell and Ben Pryor from Antioch and Wendy Sherman Heckler and Bridget Newell from Otterbein.

You will learn about how our great faculty are working across departments and disciplines to create dynamic student learning experiences. And, of course, there are always campus leaders to highlight — past and present — who have transformed Otterbein and all the lives we touch.

Leadership has always mattered. Otterbein is leading again in higher education. We are meeting the full cost of tuition for lower income students — without loans. While other schools talk about affordability, we are walking the walk.

Our formation of an independent university system is also garnering a great deal of attention. I have been asked to speak at several higher education conferences and find colleagues across the country that know of Otterbein, know of our innovative spirit, and want to learn more. We have a growing list of other institutions interested in joining the effort to expand access for adult learners and so far, the Higher Learning Commission and other regulatory bodies have been supportive.

There is a lot going on and it can feel a little overwhelming at times. But, we can each do our part — starting with my favorite daylily telling me spring is coming. And nothing can stop Otterbein when we are all pulling together.


John L. Comerford, Ph.D.