Otterbein Receives Fourth Choose Ohio First Grant

Otterbein has received a Choose Ohio First (COF) grant of $462,621.60 over five years from the State of Ohio and the Department of Higher Education (ODHE) for scholarship support for students from Ohio majoring in allied health, equine pre-veterinary, and veterinary technology. Otterbein currently has three additional Choose Ohio First scholarship awards, including support for scholarships for Ohio students in nursing and mathematics, computer science, and STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) and STEMM education.

Choose Ohio First

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.”

Upcoming Alumni and Family Events

The Otterbein Alumni and Friends Travel Program has covered a lot of territory, so we’d like to hear where you think we should go next. As we plan our future travel endeavors, please contact Becky May ’78 at or 614-823-1305 to share your ideas for the destinations that have always been on your bucket list.

Visit for more details.

Save these Dates!
Upcoming Alumni and Family Events

The Office of Alumni and Family Engagement is planning a variety of events — both in-person and virtual — for you to reconnect with your Otterbein family. Here’s what is coming up in the months ahead:

  • April 25: Senior Theatre Showcase in New York City.
  • April 29: Toast to the Class of 2023 (for graduates and their families).
  • May (TBD): New Graduate Happy Hour in Columbus.
  • June 6: Washington, D.C., Area Happy Hour with President Comerford.
  • Aug. 20: Columbus Crew Soccer vs. FC Cincinnati in Columbus.
  • Sept. 15-16: Homecoming and Family Weekend.

We’re always adding new events, so be sure to check our events page for details and updates at

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:

Philanthropy in Action – Spring 2023

Campus Center Exterior

Support for the Campus Center renovation continues to make a major impact as Phase 1 of the project nears completion, which includes the addition of a new elevator to access all three floors, additional restrooms, and refreshed lounge spaces. Boosted by an additional $1 million gift from alumna and emerita Board of Trustees member Annie Ames ’86 this past fall, the University is now shifting to secure funding for Phase 2 of the renovation.

New Lower Level

The new lower level features an enhanced lobby and ticket booth for the Campus Center Pit Theatre, additional restrooms, and study spaces.

To support this project, visit and select “Campus Center Renovation” under the designation drop down field.

Second Floor Lobby

The second floor lobby gives students a new gathering space and new restrooms.

Main Entrance

The main entrance greets guests with a lobby that features access to a new elevator, new front entrance to the bookstore, and an Otterbein wallscape.

Cardinals Baseball Breaks MIT Record for Academic All-Americans

Barber AAA Graduation

Otterbein Baseball is currently riding one of the most impressive streaks in all of college athletics, having achieved at least one Academic All-America selection for nine straight years. The Cardinals surpassed the previous record of seven, held by MIT, in the spring of 2021 and continue striving for new heights.

This run began roughly a decade ago when head coach George Powell and (now former) assistant John LaCorte made a conscious decision to focus recruiting efforts on higher academic prospects, who also happened to be talented on the baseball diamond.

The strategy has clearly paid off with the program earning four OAC titles and three NCAA appearances since 2016, in addition to multiple other players receiving countless academic awards at conference and district levels.

College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), rebranding itself to College Sports Communicators this past year, began the distinguished AAA program in 1952 to honor student-athletes across all divisions for combined success on the playing surface, in the classroom and throughout the community. To be eligible, you must hold a 3.0 cumulative GPA and reach sophomore academic/athletic standing.

Year-By-Year Look:

  • 2022 - Luke Barber (1B)
  • 2021 - Luke Barber (1B)
  • 2020 - Luke Barber (1B)
  • 2019 – Tim Snyder (CF)
  • 2018 - Justin Feltner (C)
  • 2017 – Caleb Norton (P) and Bryan Stopar (DH)
  • 2016 - Tyler Kent (CF)
  • 2015 - Ty Compton (DH)
  • 2014 – Billy Harkenrider (LF)

Learn more at:

Otterbein Earns National Recognition for Student Voter Participation

Otterbein has been recognized by the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge as a 2022 ALL IN Most Engaged Campus for College Student Voting. This national designation recognizes colleges and universities for making intentional efforts to increase student voter participation. According to a report from the Institute of Democracy and Higher Education, 74% of Otterbein students voted in 2020 — 12.3% over the voting rate in 2016.

“Students on our campus are beginning to realize that voting is a way that they can voice their opinions and needs to the government. Students are realizing how much their voice matters,” said Lindsey Payton, co-coordinator of Raise Your Voice, a student-led, non-partisan group focused on voter education, engagement, and registration.

Classes of 1971 and 1972 Make an Impact During 50th Golden Reunions

Class Of 1971 Community Garden Pavilion

Congratulations to last year’s Golden 50th Reunion Classes of 1971 and 1972 for their support of two worthy initiatives that are making a major impact on our students and Otterbein community. The Class of 1971 spearheaded the fundraising and efforts to establish the Community Garden Learning Pavilion (shown here during the ribbon-cutting ceremony this past fall), and in an effort to address the rising cost of college textbooks, the Class of 1972 created the Class of 1972 Textbook Affordability Endowment, which enables Courtright Memorial Library to purchase curriculum materials for students to use to reduce the costs of their curricular expenses.

To learn more about the upcoming Class of 1973 Golden Reunion fundraising efforts, please contact Kathleen Bonte at

Meet the Advancement Team

We are excited to share that the Advancement team has added some wonderful colleagues in recent months to assist with alumni and family engagement, events and conferences, and serving the needs of our donors.

We’re proud to introduce you to the new Advancement team members you might see on campus or hear from in the future.

Justin Akers

Event & Technology Coordinator
Justin works closely with clients to arrange customized event venues and provides excellent audio and visual resources for both big and small events.

To book your next event, contact Justin at

Stephanie Clark

Senior Director of Development
Stephanie creates opportunities for alumni, parents, and friends of the University to make major transformational gifts through endowments, planned gifts, and scholarships.

Contact Stephanie at

Marcus Fowler

Director of Alumni & Family Programs
Marcus directs, improves, and expands alumni and family engagement programs, both in-person and virtual, and works with the Young Alumni Board, Student Alumni Board, and long-established 50th Golden Reunion programs.

Contact Marcus at

Carley King, ’22

Annual Giving Program Coordinator
Carley manages the Student Engagement Officers and strengthens campus philanthropy through the Student Alumni Board, Senior Class Gift, and faculty and staff giving programs.

Contact Carley at at

Alexis McNeal ’23

Event and Conference Coordinator
Alexis works collaboratively with all campus partners and community members to provide convenient and comfortable spaces for events and conferences at Otterbein.

To book your next event, contact Alexis at

Mary Beth Metz

Coordinator of Alumni and Family Programs
Mary Beth grows engagement with alumni, families, and friends of Otterbein through virtual and in person programming and social media outreach.

Contact Mary Beth at