Letter from President Comerford, Fall 2023

​Dear Alumni and Friends,
Not a day goes by at Otterbein that I’m not reminded we are all learning together. The public may think that college is a one way street for learning. Faculty and staff, loaded with graduate credentials, teach the undergraduates like a “sage on a stage.”

Of course, you know that is not how Otterbein works. In small classes, on athletic teams, and through fraternities and sororities, we are all learning from one another. Yes, our faculty, and staff, and alumni have great expertise to share. But our students have wisdom and life experiences too.

This was illustrated for me recently. Our office has an intern, Olivia, who majors in Public Relations. Among other things, she is assigned to help me manage social media. Communicating and being accessible, especially to students, requires being on the platforms they use.

Olivia advised I needed to get on Instagram. Apparently, students rarely use Twitter (or X or whatever it’s called) anymore. I agreed and we set a time to create the account. The meeting appeared on my calendar as “Olivia teaches John Instagram.”

Luckily, she was a patient teacher. I repeatedly got confused about why stories are temporary, while posts are permanent unless, that is, you create files for your stories. And while people will follow me, unlike Facebook or Twitter, I should not follow them. New platform, new rules, apparently.

At one point in my lesson, Olivia mentioned something about boomerangs and reels (this is all real, by the way). I asked about why you would use a reel instead of a story. Olivia cocked her head to the side and said kindly, “Why don’t we save that question for next time.” I was in Instagram 101 and that was an Instagram 102 question apparently!

The point of this is not to demonstrate my Instagram naivete. That should be evident to anyone who understands the words above.

I learned a lot from Olivia — not just about social media, but how to teach, be patient, and be kind. And hopefully she will learn something from me during her internship.

This is just like anytime I attend a class, a meeting of the Black Student Union, or a volleyball game. There is always something to learn, something to impress me, something to remind me what a remarkable group of people Otterbein manages to attract for our community. You’ll enjoy a few stories that demonstrate this quality throughout this Towers. Whether it’s an alumna who, in her personal time, matches custom fitted bicycles to kids with special needs or a group of students creating new ways to instill sensitivity and awareness on important topics.

These are hallmarks of those who call themselves a part of Otterbein. And I am grateful to be a learner here.


John L. Comerford, Ph.D.

P.S. Follow me on Instagram @otterbeinpres. It’s not that bad, I promise!

Olivia teaches John Instagram
Thank-you donuts
Selfie with the Class of 2027

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