Otterbein’s Top Fundraising Priorities

Each year, University leaders identify the key programs and initiatives for which we seek philanthropic support from our Cardinal community. This year, these include:

Otterbein Fund
Benefits all areas of campus via unrestricted funds that can be used for our greatest needs. Giving options include annual donations, as well as our Otterbein Fund Scholarship, which allows you to spread an impactful pledge over four years that directly benefits a student each year.

Learn more at

Campus Center Renovation – Phase Two
With phase one complete, we are ready to continue the transformation of this beloved space for our students and community. Plans for phase two include renovation of the dining hall (Nest) and kitchen from a 1960s style “hot line” into a modern food court, allowing for greater customization including special dietary needs. The decorative stairs on the north side of the building will be removed, allowing seating up to the windows and the first floor to become more flexible. A new stairwell will be added to the northwest corner, offering a glass-enclosed modern look to the building.

Endowed Scholarships
Endowed and annual scholarships help to make an Otterbein education affordable. Named endowed funds begin at $25,000 and provide impact in perpetuity and can be pledged over five years. Annual support for scholarships help today’s students and provide immediate assistance.

Learn more at

Innovation Fund
This fund is a catalyst for developing new and dynamic academic and extra-curricular programs. Supporting the Innovation Fund helps Otterbein drive our strategic priorities and mission, vision, and values while giving the University the flexibility to explore new and exciting paths.

Otterbein READY
Support for this innovative new Otterbein program helps fund career and professional preparation programs that guide our students through a four-year plan with advisors and mentors along the way. All students will graduate with at least one immersive, experiential learning experience.

Learn more at

Interested in supporting our top fundraising priorities? You can support online now at or contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 614-823-1400.

Grants, Corporate, and Foundation Support

Grants help to provide essential funding for new programs, research, and other areas that directly impact our students at Otterbein. Our faculty and staff have recently been awarded grants from several organizations, including those listed below.

Henry Luce Foundation

National Endowment for the Humanities

PROGRAM: Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

AMOUNT: $50,000 (Planning Grant)

The University Archives has been awarded a NEH grant to facilitate the development of a compact shelving installation plan. Schorr Architects and preservation consultants LYRASIS will be instrumental in preparing the detailed plan needed to install compact shelving, which would drastically increase the amount of usable storage space and increase the preservation of collections.

Choose Ohio First

Ohio Arts Council

PROGRAM: Sustainability

AMOUNT: $35,104 (Year One)

The Department of Music has been awarded a four-year OAC Sustainability grant. Funds will support public programming, including a visiting artist, public performances, and external community engagement events.

Opening the doors to Ukraine

Opening the doors to

Growing Culture & Community
At The Garden

The Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio (UCAO) is cultivating tradition and culture at the Otterbein Community Garden. “The garden has become a space where different generations and backgrounds converge, where our shared Ukrainian heritage becomes a bridge that connects us. Together, we remember and honor our cultural roots, sharing traditions and recipes that have been passed down through the years,” said UCAO garden leader Michael Litvinovich. “Our plot and gardeners inspire reflection and conversation on the current war in Ukraine,” said Associate Professor Megan Chawansky, a UCAO member.

Otterbein & The Arts: Opening Doors to the World invites you to explore Ukraine next spring, as The Frank Museum of Art and Fisher Gallery in Roush Hall feature work by Ukrainian artists Zaryana Bezu and Oleksii Koval, respectively. Both shows explore possibilities of diverse and expansive worlds grounded in and inspired by nature, as well as beauty and balance. The shows will run from Jan. 10-April 19, 2024.

Zaryana Bezu, a fiber and sculpture artist who was born in Kyiv, was 17 years old when the Soviet Union broke apart, and her country was thrown into economic and social chaos. Amid the hardship, Bezu turned for solace to the ancient Ukrainian folktales she found deeply embedded in the country’s history — stories, images, and realities that lived just beneath the surface of communist and orthodox narratives. Her environmental installation in The Frank Museum will introduce visitors to some of the realms and beings she has encountered over three decades.

Also born in Kyiv, Oleksii Koval has worked with hot enamel according to the tradition of Leonardo da Vinci for more than 16 years. Also a mixed-media printmaker, Koval’s art amplifies natural and human-made beauty and harmony, as well as the joy of communication through exploration. The exhibition in the Fisher Gallery will invite viewers into a joyful experience of diversity and call for the care of all living things around us. Koval has had more than 50 solo exhibitions in leading art museums in Ukraine and galleries in Europe and the United States

Koval’s Art

Learn more about Otterbein’s art exhibits at

Meet Otterbein’s Newest Cardinals!

Meet Otterbein’s Newest Cardinals!

Here’s a look at the

Class of 2027

Otterbein welcomed
519 first-year students
from 18 states
to campus this fall!

Incoming Class Overview

Men 37% Women 63%

36% Students of Color

48% Already have college credit

38% Pell-eligible students

Significant Retention Gains

82.4% Entering Fall Students +3.9%
82.8% Men +8.5%
80.8% Students of Color +11%
78.7% Pell-Eligible Students +7.1%
86.7% Columbus City Schools +24.2%
78.8% First-Generation Students +2.5%

Academic majors: 24% STEM • 13% Health and Sport Sciences • 12% Business, Accounting, and Economics • 12% Nursing

Otterbein Homecoming and Family Weekend 2023

This year’s Homecoming and Family Weekend, held Sept. 15-16, was a wonderful weekend of festivities for our alumni, students, and their families. The 50th Golden Reunion class of 1973 came to campus to reconnect and walk down memory lane. The annual Alumni Awards and State of the University Address were held in Riley Auditorium as part of the Celebration of Otterbein. Eta Phi Mu (Jonda) fraternity celebrated its 100th anniversary and Lambda Gamma Epsilon (Kings) fraternity celebrated 75 years. Kerr Hall was officially dedicated in honor of late President Emeritus Thomas Kerr and his wife, Donna. During OtterFest on Friday and Saturday, we welcomed local band The Moonbats, alumna performer Allison Asarch ’18, and emcee Johnny Steiner ’96 to help keep the festive vibes flowing all weekend.

2023 Homecoming Livestreams

Homecoming Recap
Celebration of Otterbein

2023 Homecoming Photos

Photo Credit: Chaz O’Neil ’06

Eta Phi Mu (Jonda) Fraternity Celebrate their 100th Anniversary

Lambda Gamma Epsilon “Kings” Celebrate their 75th Anniversary

Otterbein Football

OtterFest Fun

Students Gather Together

Class of 1973 Golden Reunion Class Photo

Class of 1963 60th Reunion Class Photo

Family Weekend Photo Op

FreeZone and Cardinal Pride

Homecoming Parade

Three Generations of Cardinals in the Freshour and Halterman Family

The Black Student Union welcomes Distinguished Alumni Award honoree Eunice Fanning Foster ’70 to its annual Homecoming cookout

View more photos and videos visit

Sharing Culture, Finding Community At Otterbein

Sharing Culture, Finding Community At Otterbein

This year’s Common Book is the story of a Somali immigrant and his experience of becoming and being an American. In Call Me American by Abdi Nor Iftin, the author chronicles his love for all things American, his life in Somalia laid waste by war, the perils of leaving Africa and his immigration to the United States.

Otterbein has a thriving and growing immigrant population on campus taking leadership positions within the student community. Here, in their own words, are their experiences.

Hanan Hussein

Junior, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Public Health majors (Pre-Med), Psychology minor

Hanan Hussein, second from right, with friends.

Why did you choose to come to Otterbein and major in your chosen field?
I am pre-med track and that is why I major in BMB. Otterbein was a perfect choice because of the small, focused education environment compared to public school setting.

What do you like best about Otterbein?
The class sizes are small which means focused education. The campus feels like a family because everyone knows everyone.

What leadership positions do you hold on campus? Why did you seek leadership positions?
I am the president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA). When I came to Otterbein, MSA, was not an active organization because there were not many Muslim students on campus. It was hard for the people that were on campus to find each other and connect to renew MSA.

I took it upon myself that I would work hard to find a way and work with other Muslim students to work and make MSA an organization. I managed to get a proposal and pitched what MSA was for and about and after years, MSA was once again an active organization.
I loved the sense of bringing the Muslim community back together and giving them as well as myself a sense of belonging on Otterbein’s campus because I am also a Muslim student that needed that faith-centered organization. So while I did it for everyone I also did it for me. And that is what we stand for, speaking for the minority and those that don’t speak up, because not everyone knows how to speak to or when to speak up.

What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite space on campus is without a doubt the Masjid (a Muslim place of worship), despite that physical location and the space. We are currently working on getting a new space in the Science Center so that is exciting. But regardless where the Masjid is located it will always be my favorite place on campus.

Describe briefly your Otterbein experience so far.
For the past two years, Otterbein has been the best experience that I have had. Dr. Masterson’s FYS class was the best. And many other professors make my education experience rich. I am also so excited to be working with Dr. Bennett and in her research lab and grateful for the opportunity.

Where are you and your family originally from? What nationality are you?
I lived in the US for about six years. I lived my whole life in Saudi Arabia, so did my mother and coming here was merely for educational purposes. Both my parents are Somali but raised in Saudi as well.

Did you experience hardship(s) growing up and in coming to the U.S.? If so can describe your journey and some of the hardships?
I had a wonderful life growing up in Saudi Arabia. The hardship was when my mother left to the US so she can file for me and my siblings to also travel to the US. The process alone took three years and I was only ten. Nonetheless I had to look after my siblings and support them as the process was taking a while.
Traveling here was also a hurdle. My mother had to meet us in the airport so we took a plane with my siblings (the youngest was 4 at the time). My sister was sick my brothers were also tired and the flight was 18 hours. I was the soldier looking after them. We traveled with a relative but I never depended on anyone else to look after my siblings. Settling in the US was not a hardship, it is easy to be foreign in another country when you have always been a foreigner. But jokes aside, I always felt I shared so much with everyone I met no matter the background or religion.

What do you like best about being in the United States?
I love the people that became part of my life: my friends, campus community, the opportunity to help others in every way I can. Whether I am an EMT and dealing with patients, or MSA president and helping new students to feel they belong in a private university, or just being a student and helping my friends.

What do you miss most about your original homeland?
I miss publicly hearing the adhan (the call to worship that is recited by muezzin prescribed times of the day). I also miss speaking Arabic all the time.

Kunkaron Adawe

Senior, Public Health Education and Global Studies majors, Psychology minor

Kunkaron Adawe

Why did you choose to come to Otterbein?
I chose to come to Otterbein University because along with all the amazing opportunities, it has the best Public Health Education major with an amazing advisor (Dr. Braun).

Can you tell us your nationality, a little about your birthplace and journey to the United States?
I am Somali American. I was born in capital of Somalia (Mogadishu).

My journey to the United States was a significant turning point in my life. Arriving at the age of 12, I faced numerous challenges as I adapted to a new culture and language. Learning English was particularly tough, and I struggled to fit in at first. However, compared to my father, who had experienced even greater hardships, I recognized that I was relatively fortunate.

Can you tell us about your father’s hardships?
My father, a true survivor, had experienced the hardships of war-torn Somalia as a child. His stories of resilience and sacrifice served as a constant reminder of how far we had come. It was his unwavering support and hard work that paved the way for our family’s journey to the U.S.. I highly recognize and respect him for it.

Despite having vivid memories of Somalia due to leaving as a baby (4 yrs old), I still held onto the dream of a peaceful homeland. The ongoing prayers for Somalia’s recovery were not just from myself but also for my father, who had seen the worst of it.

Although my memories of Somalia are limited, what I miss most about my original homeland is the idea of a peaceful and stable Somalia. My father’s stories of a harmonious past, before the turmoil, painted a picture of a place with a rich cultural heritage and close-knit communities.

I hold onto the hope that, one day, Somalia will see peace and prosperity return. It’s a hope not just for myself but for all those who have endured this hardship. Many immigrants, like us, carry a heavy burden of trauma from their past experiences, and the dream of a peaceful homeland is a common thread that unites us in our new lives in the United States.

What do you appreciate about living in the United States?
What I appreciate most about being in the United States is the abundance of opportunities it offers. Despite the initial challenges, this country provided me with access to education and a chance to build a better future. It’s a place where hard work and dedication can lead to success, and I’ve seen my father embody that spirit.

I also value the diversity and freedom in the U.S. I’ve had the privilege to learn from people of various backgrounds, and this exposure has broadened my horizons. While there are undoubtedly challenges here, the sense of possibility and the chance to create a brighter future are what I cherish the most.

What do you appreciate most about Otterbein?
There are many aspects of Otterbein that I deeply appreciate, and some of these stand out, such as its vibrant and diverse community. This diversity not only enriches the overall experience but also opens up new horizons, including the exciting prospect of studying abroad: in which I had the opportunity to participate in. Additionally, Otterbein offers an extensive range of majors and minors, which allows students to explore their interests thoroughly. What I find particularly admirable is how Otterbein actively supports students in discovering their true passions.

Have you held any leadership positions here?
During my time on campus, I had the privilege of holding several significant leadership positions. These roles not only enriched my college experience but also allowed me to contribute to the community. Two years ago, a group of dedicated Muslim students and I sought to revive the Muslim Student Association. I served as the President of the Muslim Student Association. We took on the responsibility of providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for Muslim students on campus. We organized various cultural and educational events, which not only helped in promoting understanding and tolerance but also created a strong sense of unity among our members. I am also the current Vice President of Etta Sigma Gamma; which is a Public Health Honorary organization.

Ikra Koriyow

Junior, Political Science and Communication majors, Legal Studies minor

Ikra Koriyow, left, with friends.

Why did you choose to attend Otterbein?
I visited Otterbein twice during high school, but did not really consider going there for college until my senior year. Otterbein is close to home which I have always loved as well as the scholarships offered to me has helped my family and I from financial burdens.

I also chose Otterbein because I always saw myself going to a small campus and Otterbein is just its own little community.

What do you like best about Otterbein?
What I like the best about Otterbein is the courses I have taken. I believe they have molded me into being a well rounded person and student. As well as the connections I have made here, I have made lifelong friendships and relationships here at Otterbein.

What leadership opportunities do you avail yourself of?
I am the Vice President of The Black Student Union.

Can you tell us about your background and nationality?
My mother grew up in a small village in Jijiga, Ethiopia. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. My family’s Nationality is Somali, going down generations. I will say I had a culturally diverse upbringing, adhering to my family’s customs while still being able to learn and grow through experiences beyond Somali culture.

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

Tony Bishop III ’15, MSAH ’18 Goes to Washington, D.C.

When Tony Bishop III ’15, MSAH ’18 earned his bachelor’s degree in communication and master’s degree in allied health at Otterbein, he never intended to work in politics. But he used his liberal arts background to adapt and apply his critical thinking skills to places outside of his major — including the White House.

“Otterbein teaches you how to think — not what to think. What I learned as a Cardinal meant I could jump into any career and be prepared from the beginning to make an impact,” Bishop said.

Being prepared for any career is one thing; finding the right career is another. For Bishop, public policy turned out to be the perfect fit.

“What’s truly unique and special about Otterbein is how you come to campus with one passion in mind and then through the guidance of professors, mentors and the entire community, you begin to discover another passion and then another. Ultimately through these extraordinary relationships that push you forward, you discover what it is you really want to pursue as a career, he said.

Photo, taken by Bishop, includes President Joe Biden, President Macron, the First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and the French President’s wife, Brigitte Macron.

His passion for public policy turned into jobs as a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives and as a fellow with then-Chairman Hakeem Jeffries in the Congressional Black Caucus for the U.S. House of Representatives.

With the Emerging Leaders delegation for the Congressional Black Caucus, Bishop traveled to Japan to establish bridges of diplomacy. Later, he was stationed in Brussels, Belgium, with the U.S. Liaison Office for the European Parliament for seven months. He then served as the executive director of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

His latest position lands Bishop in the White House as an advisor to the White House Office of the National Cyber Director.

He credits Otterbein with helping to prepare him for his new position. “To change things for the better in our country, I had to learn how to influence people, and communications seemed to be the perfect skill set to get that job done. I do this every day at work as I try to have positive impact on one of our highest institutions in the U.S.,” Bishop said.

At the heart of everything he does is Bishop’s compassion for others. “It’s all about helping someone else. If you have wisdom that you can share with someone to make their time easier, you should do it. That’s how we advance as a country.”

These photos were supplied by Tony Bishop and show an event that was part of the first state visit by a foreign allied leader during the Biden administration — French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron. Bishop attended and helped execute the event.

Above: Bishop at the White House before the event’s start.

Spring Semester Sees Outstanding Lineup of Speakers

Otterbein planned a lineup of signature events this spring featuring speakers on social justice, servant leadership, and the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Donja Thomas

Donja Thomas, Ph.D.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation

The Otterbein community celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual MLK Convocation on Jan. 18 with a keynote address by Donja Thomas, Ph.D., an educator, writer, scholar, and Black studies activist. She shared how King’s dream is not just about the attainment of an ideal aspiration, it is also about the determined ambition behind our collective intentions towards economic and social justice. She encouraged each person to use their “superpower” to work together.

You can watch a recording of the convocation at

The Kathy A. Krendl Distinguished Lecture Series

The Kathy A. Krendl Distinguished Lecture Series welcomed U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty to campus on Feb. 15. She discussed the types of leaders we need to create unity and overcome the unique challenges our society faces. Beatty represents Ohio’s Third Congressional District. In the 118th Congress, she serves on the exclusive House Committee on Financial Services as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions.

U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Heather McGhee

Vernon L. Pack Lectures

Finally, the community is invited to attend the Vernon L. Pack ’50 Distinguished Lecture Series featuring author and activist Heather McGhee at 7 p.m. on April 4.

Go to for additional information, including the location and livestream

Over her career in public policy, McGhee has crafted legislation, testified before Congress and helped shape presidential campaign platforms. Her book The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together spent 10 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list and was longlisted for the National Book Award and Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The New York Times called it, “the book that should change how progressives talk about race.”

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy visited Otterbein on Oct. 18 to have a discussion with students, faculty, staff, and the community about America’s mental health crisis as part of Nationwide Children’s On Our Sleeves campaign. The nation’s top doctor, Surgeon General Murthy, is a national advocate in the youth mental health movement.

Watch his discussion here:

Introducing New VPSA William Fox

Vice President for Student Affairs William (Bill) Fox, Ed.D, took a seat in his new office for the first time in January ready to advance Otterbein’s mission by focusing on student well-being and equity. He will oversee student health and wellness, residence life, student engagement, athletics, and student conduct programs — but that’s nothing new for this seasoned professional. Fox has worked in higher education for over 20 years, including a decade as dean of students at Denison University in Granville, OH. He most recently led the student affairs division at Antioch College* in Yellow Springs, OH.

We talked to Bill as he begins his new role:

We talked to Bill as he begins his new role:

What interested you in this role?

Otterbein is a special place. I have lived and worked in central Ohio for most of my career and have always been fond of the sense of community that Otterbein fosters. I am now fortunate to be able to enjoy that feeling of belonging and pride. I have big shoes to fill and cannot wait to continue a legacy of success in building strong relationships, role modeling a strong ethic of care for students, and designing innovative programs to help students have a superb experience that prepares them for life after Otterbein.

What are some of the biggest opportunities you see at Otterbein?

I am inspired by the energy and ideas coming from the students. Part of being a student-centered educator means spending time listening to how students describe their experience here and what they want to see continue, change, or stop. Then it’s important that we work alongside and empower students to be responsible and accountable for co-creating that next step. I am paying attention to spaces students enjoy as they live and learn on our campus and ways to further enhance those over time. I am looking forward to leading and further developing our student affairs team — we have great people who are driven to do good work on behalf of students.

Your research focuses on student wellness. How will you apply that research at Otterbein?

I bring a focus on how mission, well-being, and equity are connected, and I wake up every day thinking about the role of student affairs in advancing our mission through advancing a strategic focus on well-being and equity in our work. This is shared work and I look forward to identifying ways that the Division of Student Affairs can work across the various areas of the University community to create the conditions upon which we can more fully live out our commitments to well-being and equity.

What is your approach for connecting with students?

Over the past 20 years, my approach has evolved with practice and student preferences. I hope our students will come to find that I am visible and accessible; genuinely curious about their experience; honest; direct when we agree/disagree; open in terms of letting them know when I don’t know and asking for help and student input; supportive of their expressions about change that is needed; and that I am in their corner and hoping for the best possible outcome for their experience here and lives after Otterbein.

*Antioch College is not affiliated with Antioch University. Otterbein is currently partnering with Antioch University to create a new system of mission-driven, not-for-profit independent institutions of higher education.

William Fox, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs

New Vice President for Student Affairs William (Bill) Fox, Ed.D., says he is “inspired by the energy and ideas” coming from Otterbein students.

Student Well-Being and Equity are top of mind for new Vice President for Student Affairs Bill Fox.

Otterbein Homecoming and Family Weekend September 15-16, 2023


& Family WeekendSeptember 15-16, 2023

Save the date to come home to Otterbein for this special weekend and all the experiences you’ve come to love!

  • CLASS OF 1973: It’s time for your 50th Golden Reunion! Learn more at
  • Join us as we dedicate and re-name the 25 West Home Street residence hall in honor of late Otterbein president, Dr. Thomas J. Kerr IV H’71, and his wife, Donna Kerr H’71.
Home Coming Parade

Don’t miss the parade, the big game, and time with friends on our beautiful campus.

Home Coming Gathering

SEPT. 15-16

Learn more at

Home Coming Gathering