The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University opened its doors Oct. 4 with a ribbon-cutting and open house. The first-of-its-kind center is a collaboration of the University, Delaware County, and City of Delaware. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

OWU in Review 2018

By Ohio Wesleyan University

As we prepare to usher in 2019, here’s a look back at some of our 2018 highlights.

These Oh-Wooo moments include opening The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University; cheering on men’s soccer head coach Jay Martin as he earns his 700th career victory, and watching the first student-directed Theatre Department main season production in 42 years.


  • Ohio Wesleyan receives a $150,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support “enhancing interdisciplinarity” – an initiative by OWU professors to create classes that combine different academic areas with team teaching to deepen the educational experience for students.
  • After analyzing more than 40 data points for over 650 U.S. colleges and universities, The Princeton Review® names Ohio Wesleyan as one of “The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck.”


Raissa Kanku ’20
  • Delaware County commissioners and Delaware City Council members vote to collaborate with OWU to create The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University – a first-of-its-kind partnership among a county, city, and private liberal arts university.
  • Raissa Kanku ’20 of the Democratic Republic of Congo shares insights on being an OWU international student with U.S. News & World Report writer Kelly Mae Ross.
  • Classics professor Lee Fratantuono, Ph.D., publishes “Caligula: An Unexpected General” about Rome’s third emperor, Gaius Caligula. The book features photos by alumna Katie McGarr ’10. In April, he is a co-author and editor of a newly published study about the Roman poet Virgil and Virgil’s epic poem “Aeneid.”


Nate Axelrod ’18
  • Nate Axelrod ’18 receives the Jostens Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding NCAA Division III men’s basketball player who excels on the court, in the classroom, and in the community. For his successful season, Axelrod also is named NCAA Division III Player of the Year by, and he is a first-team All-America and Academic All-America® selection.
  • The OWU men’s track and field team wins its third consecutive NCAC indoor championship. Nate Newman ’18 is named Field Events Athlete of the Year for the third time, Marquis Sena ’21 is named Newcomer of the Year, and Kris Boey is named Coach of the Year for the sixth time in men’s indoor track and field.
  • Cirrus Robinson ’20 wins her second consecutive national championship in the high jump at the NCAA Division III indoor championship track and field meet in Birmingham, Ala.
  • OWU faculty member and administrator Dale Brugh, Ph.D., is one of 45 emerging higher education leaders nationwide selected as a 2018-2019 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow. A chemistry professor, Brugh also serves as OWU’s associate dean for innovation.


Malik Leisinger ’19
  • Jenna Champers ’18 and Carly LoVullo ’16 are selected to receive Boren Awards from the National Security Education Program. Each will spend a year conducting research abroad: Chambers in Croatia and LoVullo in Tanzania.
  • Malik Leisinger ’19 is one of 102 gamers drafted from a national pool of more than 72,000 for the NBA 2K’s inaugural season of video game competition. He is drafted by Utah Jazz Gaming Esports Team.
  • Chloe Dyer ’18 is honored with a 2018 Charles J. Ping Student Service Award and $250 Legacy Award mini-grant to benefit a charity of her choice. While at OWU, Dyer helped to ensure that more than 3,000 pounds of unused food set for disposal was diverted to help feed the local community. Her grant benefits Grace Clinic Delaware, which provides free medical care to uninsured and underinsured residents.
  • Slater Sabo ’18 is selected to present a scholarly paper at the 2018 National Phi Alpha Theta Conference in New Orleans. His topic is “The Compromise of Individual Freedom in the Interest of National Security: The U.S. Fighting Man’s Code of 1955.”
  • Janelle Valdinger ’20 spearheads a collaboration between the University and City of Delaware to install two 30-foot-by-15-foot rain gardens on the OWU campus. In addition to being a student, Valdinger works as a Geographic Information System (GIS) technician for the city. 
  • The Battling Bishop men’s lacrosse team defeats Wooster to win the NCAC championship. The win is OWU’s 20th in the 34 seasons of NCAC competition.
  • University Chaplain Jon Powers, Th.M., is inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College (King’s alma mater) in Atlanta, Georgia, in recognition of his work to “promote peace, tolerance, interfaith understanding, healing, reconciliation, nonviolence, moral cosmopolitan social progress, agapic justice, and care for the ecosystem.” 
  • All in one week, alumna Meredith Palmer, Ph.D., ’11, is selected to receive a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, a Smithsonian postdoctoral fellowship, and a Fulbright Scholars fellowship.
  • Alumna and entrepreneur Carol Latham ’61 is inducted into The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence at the OFIC’s 2018 Evening of Excellence. Her work helped to enable the development of personal electronics by helping to prevent them from overheating.
  • Ohio Wesleyan receives a gift of more than $4.5 million from the estate of alumnus James Morris, M.D., ’44, of Portland, Oregon. The bequest is used to create one of OWU’s largest endowed student scholarships.


Delanie Baker ’19
  • Delanie Baker ’19 becomes the sixth student in OWU history to earn an American Society for Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Her award supports research in Iceland into megaviruses.
  • Cirrus Robinson ’20 wins the national championship in the outdoor high jump, her third national title.
  • The OWU men’s track and field team wins the NCAC outdoor championship for the second time in three seasons. Nate Newman ’18 is named Field Events Athlete of the Year for the second straight year, Cade Richeson ’21 is named Newcomer of the Year, and Kris Boey is named Coach of the Year for the fifth time in men’s outdoor track and field.
  • The OWU men’s lacrosse team defeats Denison, 11-10, in NCAA Division III third-round game to advance to national quarterfinal.
  • Ahmed Hamed ’20 earns a competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to help support his studying Arabic in Morocco.
  • 2018 graduates Mary Cranley, Derek Shank, and Haley Talbot-Wendlandt become the first students to graduate with the university’s new Bachelor of Science degrees in the areas of microbiology, physics, and geology.
  • Harry Bahrick, Ph.D., psychology professor emeritus, receives the Association for Psychological Science’s Mentor Award at the APS Annual Convention in San Francisco in recognition of his “extraordinary effort to shape the future of the discipline by influencing the career paths of the next generation of scientists.”
  • OWU presents Delaware residents Joseph and Linda Diamond with an Honorary Alumni Award in recognition of their “endless dedication to and support of the Delaware community and OWU.”


Robert Olmstead
  • Nominees for the third annual Ohioana Readers’ Choice Award include Robert Olmstead, M.A., OWU’s director of creating writing and English professor, for “Savage Country: A Novel”; Jeffrey Ford, M.A., part-time English instructor for “A Natural History of Hell”; and alumna and poet Maggie Smith, M.F.A., ’99 for “The Good Bones.” The award allows readers to choose their favorite tome from among the Ohioana Book Awards finalists selected by judges.


Lucas Farmer ’19
  • Lucas Farmer ’19 is selected as an International Community Scholar through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Of 547 applicants, Lucas is one of only 15 U.S. undergraduates to earn the honor. He uses his NFS funding to map the islands of Belize via drone and to conduct interviews for spatial storytelling.
  • Ohio Wesleyan’s Environment and Sustainability Program, consisting of students, faculty and staff, is honored with a 2018 Northern Olentangy Watershed (NOW) Conservation Award.
  • Stefanie Niles, Ed.D., is appointed as OWU’s vice president for Enrollment and Communications. In September, Niles also becomes president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), an organization of nearly 16,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about postsecondary education.
  • The “Fiske Guide to Colleges 2019,” created by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, names Ohio Wesleyan one of “the ‘best and most interesting’ schools in the United States, as well as in Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland,” providing students “a solid liberal arts experience focused not on bells and whistles, but on practical career-related experience.”


  • The Princeton Review’s 2019 guidebook lists Ohio Wesleyan as “Best” and “Best Midwestern’ Colleges.”
  • The OWU Department of Education adds Integrated Science for Teachers, a new major that will prepare secondary school educators to teach science in grades 7 through 12.
  • Ohio Wesleyan celebrates the arrival of its Class of 2022, including scholars from 38 States and 20 countries.


Jay Martin
  • On Sept. 22, the Battling Bishop men’s soccer team defeats Oberlin, marking the 700th career win for head coach Jay Martin, Ph.D. The victory makes him the first NCAA men’s soccer coach in any division to reach the 700-win mark.
  • Ohio Wesleyan holds its inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Summit, bringing more than 160 students, faculty, and staff together to discuss how to create an environment that embraces and supports all diversity.
  • The OWU Marching Bishops, complete with a color guard, return to the field for the first time since the 1960s. The new band performs at athletics, spirit, and community events.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranks Ohio Wesleyan at No. 95 among the nation’s “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges,” No. 67 among “Best Value Schools,” No. 51 among “High School Counselor Rankings,” and one of the nation’s “A+ Schools for B Students” in its 2019 Best Colleges rankings.


Ares Harper ’19
  • Rachel Ballitch ’18 earns first place in the Senior Women Division of the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Vocal Competition. She has competed three times in the competition and earned an award each time.
  • Ares Harper ’19 directs the play “Cloud 9,” making him the first student in 42 years, and only the second in OWU history, to direct one of the Theatre Department’s main season productions. The first student to direct a main season production was Bonnie Milne Gardner, Ph.D., ’77, who later served as an OWU professor for more than 30 years.
  • The Delaware Entrepreneurial Center at Ohio Wesleyan University officially opens Oct. 4, with an afternoon of ribbon-cutting, remarks, and public tours. Center members have access to OWU student-interns to help them realize their business visions.
  • The Ohio Wesleyan women’s rowing team makes its intercollegiate debut Oct. 27, competing in the Muskie Chase hosted by Marietta College. The team’s inaugural season will continue in March.


Chris Wolverton
  • Botany and microbiology professor Chris Wolverton, Ph.D., and the team working on his NASA-funded research earn a NASA Ames Research Center Honor Award for their study of how plants grow in outer space. The research was conducted on the International Space Station.
  • Politics and government professor Sean Kay, Ph.D., explores the question “Can rock and roll music make America great again?” in the newly updated and expanded paperback edition of his book, “Rockin’ the Free World! How the Rock & Roll Revolution Changed America and the World.”
  • Natalie Milburn Doan, J.D., ’03 is appointed vice president for University Advancement to oversee OWU’s alumni relations, development, and career services teams. Doan, who had been filling the role on an interim basis, has worked for the University since 2012, most recently as director of donor relations.
  • The new OWU men’s wrestling team returns to the mat Nov. 3 at the Adrian Invitational in Michigan. The match marks Ohio Wesleyan’s first intercollegiate competition in wrestling since the 
    end of the 1983-84 season.


Amy Butcher
  • OWU launches Winterfest, a new tradition that combines the annual “Lessons and Carols” holiday concert with the lighting of the Hudler Memorial Christmas Tree and adds an outdoor celebration to help cap off the semester and usher in the holiday season. 
  • An essay by assistant professor Amy Butcher, M.F.A., “Women These Days,” is nominated by Brevity Magazine for inclusion in the 2018 “Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses” series and selected by Entropy as one of the Best of 2018. A second forthcoming article, “Flight Path,” is selected as the grand-prize winner in The Sonora Review’s latest flash prose contest. “Flight Path,” on bodies falling from the sky, will be published in the spring.
  • Megan Ellis ’05 is appointed as executive director of the OWU Career Connection Center. The new center will help students to identify and embrace all of the opportunities provided by their Ohio Wesleyan educations, to understand their strengths and how those strengths may relate to career options, and to ensure they are prepared for their first jobs as well as a lifetime of meaningful work.