Ohio Wesleyan launched the public phase of its $200 million Connect Today, Create Tomorrow fundraising campaign during Homecoming and Family Weekend, which also celebrated the 175th anniversary of OWU's founding in 1842. (Photo by James D. DeCamp)

OWU in Review 2017

By Cole Hatcher

As we prepare to usher in 2018, here is a look back at Ohio Wesleyan University’s 2017 highlights, including our 175th anniversary celebration and the public launch of our Connect Today, Create Tomorrow fundraising campaign. (Photo by James D. DeCamp)


  • The Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship and the City of Delaware launch “Delaware Does Business,” a recurring forum that invites budding entrepreneurs to present their ideas to peers and possible investors. The inaugural event includes Zack Katona ’17 sharing information about a dietary supplement, Rise, that he developed and hopes to market.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, OWU students qualify to compete in the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s national tournament. The team of Caroline Hamilton ’17 and Madeleine Juszynski ’18 represent the Bishops in the 2016-2017 competition.
  • Jennifer Jolley, D.M.A., assistant professor of Music, is named a finalist in The American Prize in Composition – Choral competition, professional division, for her work “Prisoner of Conscience.” The composition is inspired by the Russian musicians Pussy Riot.
  • Ohio Wesleyan alumnus Max Razmakhin ’10 earns a spot on the Forbes 2017 list of “30 Under 30” leaders in the food and drink category. Razmakhin is the co-founder of Thirstie Inc., an e-commerce platform for the retail alcohol industry.


  • The OWU Men’s Basketball Team wins its third consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference championship and hosts NCAC tournament play for third straight year. Nate Axelrod ’18 is named the NCAC Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Ohio Wesleyan announces plans to add Men’s Wrestling and Women’s Rowing as varsity sports for the 2018-19 academic year. The additions bring to 25 the number of Battling Bishop varsity teams – 13 for women and 12 for men.
  • The University receives a $1.5 million contribution from James F. Dicke II and his wife, Janet S. Dicke, to fully fund construction of its third Small Living Unit duplex. The new “SLUplex,” named the Jim and Eilleen Dicke House in honor of James Dicke’s parents, opens in time for fall classes.
  • OWU’s Richard M. Ross Art Museum launches its first outdoor exhibit with a series of word banners. The “Inside/Outside” exhibition series continues in the fall with “The Shadows We Cast,” an architectural-scale video projected nightly onto the museum’s front façade.
  • OWU students launch the University’s first International Queer Film Festival to showcase acclaimed cinema from around the globe and create an opportunity to discuss LGBTQ issues.


  • The OWU Men’s Track & Field Team wins its second consecutive NCAC indoor championship. Nate Newman’18 is named Men’s Field Events Athlete of the Year, Tommy Davis ’19 is named Men’s Sprints/Hurdles Athlete of the Year, and head coach Kris Boey is named Men’s Coach of the Year.
  • OWU Women’s Track & Field athlete Cirrus Robinson ’20 wins the NCAA Division III high jump championship, becoming the University’s first women’s individual national champion since 1982.
  • OWU announces plans to begin conferring Bachelor of Science degrees in addition to the Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts, and Music degrees it offers. Students will be able to graduate with Bachelor of Science degrees in Geology, Microbiology, Physics, and Astrophysics beginning in May 2018.
  • The University announces the return of the OWU Marching Band in fall 2018 to support Battling Bishop athletes and perform at other OWU spirit activities and community events. An OWU Marching Band last took the field in the 1960s.
  • Randolph Quaye, Ph.D., associate professor of Black World Studies, earns his second Fulbright Scholarship to research health care financing in East Africa and assist Tanzania’s University of Dar es Salaam with its master’s degree program in public health.
  • “The Academic Minute” National Public Radio program features comments by OWU English professor David Caplan, Ph.D. In his one-minute segment, Caplan shares his thoughts on “Is Hip-Hop Poetry?”
  • “Nightline” co-anchor, “ABC News” chief national correspondent, and OWU alumnus Byron Pitts ’82 is selected to receive a 2017 Horatio Alger Award in recognition of his “remarkable successes in spite of adversity.” Only 11 people nationwide are chosen for the honor.
  • Ohio Wesleyan holds “Charter Day” to celebrate the University’s 175th anniversary. The State of Ohio issued the University’s charter on March 7, 1842.


  • Michael Mora-Brenes ’17 earns a 2017 Charles J. Ping Student Service Award for his work to help address language and other barriers impacting the lives of immigrants, migrants, and refugees. The award is presented annually by the Ohio Campus Compact.
  • OWU Fine Arts professor Cynthia Cetlin, M.F.A., and student Wyatt Hall ’17 are among the artists selected by jury to exhibit works in the 34th annual Ohio Designer Craftsmen “Best of 2017” showcase.
  • Ohio Wesleyan Life Trustee Helen Crider Smith ’56 is awarded the Earl F. Morris Trustee of the Year Award from the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges. Smith is the first OWU Trustee honored with the Morris Award.
  • OWU creates new programs in Environment and Sustainability and in Film Studies with both resulting in expanded academic offerings for students beginning in fall 2017.
  • Ohio Wesleyan hosts its first Summit of Ohio Latinx (SOL) Conference, featuring speakers Sonia Manzano, who portrayed Maria on TV’s “Sesame Street” for 44 years, and Angel Colon, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shootings in Florida.


  • OWU’s Department of Education is one of 16 colleges and universities recognized nationwide with a “Top Tier” rating for effectiveness in preparing secondary education teachers. The honor comes from the Washington, D.C.-based National Council on Teacher Quality.
  • Ohio Wesleyan announces creation of the Panhellenic House, the only known dwelling in the United States purposely created to provide women from multiple sororities with a collaborative Greek living and learning environment. The dwelling houses up to 22 women from each of OWU’s National Panhellenic sororities.
  • A new agreement between Ohio Wesleyan and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine enables qualified OWU students to gain provisional early acceptance into LECOM’s medical school.
  • Kristin J. Weyman is appointed as OWU’s new associate dean for student success. In her role, Weyman oversees the areas of Multicultural Student Affairs, Counseling Services, Student Conduct, and Residential Life.


  • Ohio Wesleyan joins with Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy to create new post-graduate pathways for students seeking advanced degrees in Management, Public Policy, or Information Technology.
  • The OWU Chaplain’s Office hosts its first High School Youth Theology Institute, a summer program created to prepare high schoolers to become Christian leaders for a global society. The institute is supported by a $600,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
  • OWU receives a $131,250 Dash Emergency Grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates. The program enables the University to help low-income students who face unexpected financial crises, such as a need for urgent medical care, to remain in school and graduate.
  • Doug Zipp is appointed as OWU’s new athletic director. He is the University’s 12th athletic director since Branch Rickey held the position in 1907.
  • Classics professor Lee Fratantuono, Ph.D., publishes his 12th book, “Lucullus: The Life and Campaigns of a Roman Conqueror.” It is illustrated with photographs by OWU classics alumna and freelance photographer Katie McGarr ’10.


  • Money Magazine lists Ohio Wesleyan among its Top 500 U.S. and Top 16 Ohio schools in its “Best Colleges for Your Money” rankings. OWU jumps 112 points nationally, coming in at 488 based on Money’s formula of “educational quality, affordability, and alumni success.” 
  • The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018 includes Ohio Wesleyan on its list of “Best and Most Interesting” four-year colleges in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
  • Mary Kate McNally is appointed director of the OWU Marching Band, which returns to campus in fall 2018. McNally is responsible for recruiting, selecting, and training band members; planning their performances; budgeting for program operations; and assessing the band’s activities and success.


  • Ohio Wesleyan welcomes its Class of 2021, with students from 33 states and 15 countries. After Ohio, the largest numbers of new U.S. students come from Florida and California. The largest numbers of international students come from Pakistan, China, and India.
  • OWU adds new major in Special Education. The major prepares students to earn an intervention specialist, kindergarten-grade 12 teaching license.
  • Robert Olmstead, M.A., professor of English and director of Creative Writing, releases “Savage Country: A Novel.” The book earns widespread acclaim, including starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist, and a spot at No. 48 on Amazon’s “Best Books of 2017” list. 
  • Ohio Wesleyan honors William J. Cronon, Ph.D., with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree – the University’s highest honor. Cronon is the author of “Only Connect: The Goals of a Liberal Education,” which helped to guide creation of The OWU Connection.


  • Raissa Kanku ’20 is one of 23 college students from 12 countries invited to Greece to participate in The New York Times Athens Democracy Forum. She also is one of four students selected to participate in an onstage panel discussion about “Bridging the Generation Gap.”
  • The Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs launches the “WCSA Library of Textbooks,” an affordability initiative that provides free access to more than 90 textbooks used in 100- and 200-level “general requirements” courses. The initiative is proposed by WCSA Senators Ryan Bishop ’18 and Nicholas Melvin ’19.
  • William Louthan, Ph.D., professor of Politics and Government, earns the 2017 Pi Sigma Alpha/James I. Lengle Chapter Advisor Recognition Award in recognition of his nearly 40 years of service to Pi Sigma Alpha.
  • Jennifer Jolley, D.M.A., assistant professor of Music, is named a winner of the International Alliance for Women in Music’s 2017 Annual Concert Competition for her cat-inspired composition “The Lives and Opinions of Literary Cats.”
  • Ohio Wesleyan launches the Latham Entrepreneurial Scholars Program, an initiative that creates an intensive two-year program to develop business leaders and innovators. The program is supported by alumna Carol Latham ’61.
  • Charles C.M. Kellom is appointed assistant dean for Multicultural Student Affairs to provide support and advocacy for OWU’s diverse student body. Kellom works to support students’ personal and academic success as well as their persistence to graduation.


  • Catie Kocian ’18 is honored by the National Association for Campus Activities with its “Outstanding Undergraduate Student Leader” award. Over the summer, Kocian served as a student leader of the Orientation program for new students.
  • Ohio Wesleyan dedicates the Gillespie Honors House, funded by a $2 million gift from Robert Gillespie ’66 and Ann Wible Gillespie ’67. The building houses 27 OWU honors students.
  • OWU visiting poet Maggie Smith ’99 releases “Good Bones,” her third book of poetry. The title poem was shared online by thousands of people in 2016 as a message of healing after Florida’s Pulse nightclub shootings.
  • Ohio Wesleyan celebrates its 175th anniversary and welcomes more than 1,000 alumni, parents, and friends for Homecoming and Family Weekend Oct. 19-22.
  • Entrepreneur and celebrity Daymond John, an investor on ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank,” visits OWU during Homecoming to share his “5 Shark Points: Fundamentals for Success in Business and in Life.”
  • OWU’s 175th anniversary celebration includes the public launch of its $200 million Connect Today, Create Tomorrow fundraising campaign. During its leadership phase, begun in 2014, the campaign received more than 32,600 gifts totaling over $140 million. 
  • Robert Harmon, Ph.D., professor of Physics and Astronomy, along with a Canadian-led international team of astronomers, publish research in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, one of the world’s leading astronomy journals.
  • Paul Reid is named head coach of the OWU Men’s Wrestling Team, which returns to varsity competition in 2018-2019. At Alfred (N.Y.) State College, Reid rebuilt the wrestling program as it transitioned to NCAA Division III status.


  • The OWU Men’s Soccer Team earns its 10th NCAC tournament title and makes an NCAA-record 40th Division III playoff appearance.
  • Ohio Wesleyan announces an expanded and simplified 2018-2019 merit scholarship program that awards $30,000 to prospective students who have a minimum 3.4 GPA and either an 1150 SAT or 23 ACT score.
  • Dustin Reichard, Ph.D., assistant professor of Zoology, and OWU students Daniel Brothers ’19 and Serena George ’19 publish research in the Journal of Avian Biology exploring female sparrows in the wild that sing male-like songs.
  • Andriel Doolittle is named head coach of the OWU Women’s Rowing Team, set to begin competition in 2018-2019. At Bates (Maine) College, Doolittle helped coach the Bobcats to NCAA Division III national championships in 2015 and 2017.
  • The Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship is featured in an article published on Forbes.com recognizing universities that “offer unique entrepreneurship programs for college students.”
  • Larry Griffin, D.M.A., professor of music, performs with “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s annual New York Fall Gala. The event raises more than $4.4 million to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, supporting services, and advocacy programs.


  • OWU’s UC 160 program and its first-year students are honored with the 2017 Litter Prevention Award from the Keep Delaware County Beautiful Coalition for volunteering annually to help with the Scioto River Sweep. “Over the last several years, your class service project has been responsible for the removal of more than 100 tires and one and a half tons of trash from the Scioto River,” officials say.
  • Brian Emerick is named director of Residential Life. Emerick oversees the efforts of the office to provide a dynamic, energetic, and engaging on-campus housing experience for OWU students.
  • Ohio Wesleyan awards eight Theory-to-Practice Grants totaling $59,500 to support projects ranging from exploring freedom of the press in Norway to conserving wildlife in Zimbabwe. Since fall 2009, more than 800 OWU students, faculty, and staff have used the University-funded grants, part of The OWU Connection, to conduct research or complete special projects in more than 60 countries.