Feature Story

December 14, 2021 | By Ohio Wesleyan University

Ohio Wesleyan holds a combined 176th and 177th commencement ceremony in Selby Stadium to celebrate its Classes of 2020 and 2021. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

OWU in Review 2021

Celebrating the Year’s Most Memorable Moments

Before we ring in 2022, here is a look back at some of Ohio Wesleyan University’s 2021 highlights.

Among OWU’s most memorable 2021 moments are adding the “Back Porch” monument to OWU Black lives as a permanent piece of campus art; launching the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grant Program; providing an in-person commencement for both the Classes of 2021 and 2020; opening the Bradford Milligan Hall senior-student apartments and newly renovated Smith Hall residence for first-year students; shattering OWU fundraising records with the $237.9 million Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign; launching a new varsity esports program; creating a pre-nursing pathway with Mount Carmel College of Nursing; and watching the Bishops battle successfully -- including NCAA Division III tournament play for both the field hockey and men’s soccer teams.

We can’t wait to see what good things await in 2022!


  • Ohio Wesleyan names 25 faculty members as its first group of Equity Fellows. The professors collaborate on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives impacting the OWU curriculum.
  • Nate Axelrod ’18 is named a first-team, all-decade men’s basketball player for the 2010s by D3hoops.com. He also earned the Jostens Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding NCAA Division III player and was named Division III Player of the Year by D3hoops.com during his time at OWU.


Jonathan Quick and Andrew Wilson ’13 install Wilson’s “Back Porch” sculpture. (Photo by Paul Vernon)
  • Andrew Wilson ’13 is named OWU’s first artist-in-residence, supported by The Ebb and Teena Haycock Public Art Endowment. During spring semester, he works with faculty member Jonathan Quick to create “Back Porch,” a 14-foot-tall metal monument that honors OWU Black lives and legacies.
  • Staff member Lisa Tabak, curatorial director for the OWU Natural History Museum, creates and installs OWU’s first-ever exhibit at the Ohio Statehouse Museum Education Center in Columbus.
  • Men’s basketball head coach Mike DeWitt ’87 earns his 400th career win Feb. 11 when the Bishops defeat Denison.
  • Ohio Wesleyan joins JED Campus in support of student well-being and mental health. The national program helps schools strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs.
  • Ohio Wesleyan launches a University-funded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Grant program for students and employees with ideas to support OWU as an antiracist space.
  • Ohio Wesleyan celebrates 100 years of business classes and explores the power of business to create positive social change through the 2021 Sagan National Colloquium, “The Intersection of the Liberal Arts and Business.”


Provost Karlyn Crowley is honored as one of the nation's outstanding women in higher education. (Photo by Paul Vernon)
  • Provost Karlyn Crowley is honored by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education magazine as one of the nation’s top 25 outstanding women working in higher education in 2021.
  • Reese Little ’22 becomes the first recipient of an OWU Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Grant. He uses the grant to support the First Generation Investors chapter that he founded on campus. The organization teaches high schoolers in underserved communities how to invest and provides them with money to do so.
  • My Ta ’21 is named first runner-up in ASIANetwork’s national 2021 Marianna McJimsey Student Paper Competition. Her award-winning paper is “The Tale of Genji and the Purple Floral Metaphors.”
  • Women’s basketball head coach Stacey Ungashick Lobdell earns her 100th career victory March 6 when the Bishops defeat Wooster.


“Twelfth Night, 2020” becomes the first full-scale play performed outdoors in the OWU amphitheater. (Photo by Carl DeScott ’21)
  • Ohio Wesleyan receives a five-year, $830,466 Choose Ohio First grant to fund scholarships for Ohio residents pursuing degrees in the STEM fields of science (including medicine), technology, engineering, and mathematics. OWU awards its first 10 scholarships to incoming students in July.
  • Grace Ison ’23 earns a 2021 Ping Student Service Award from the Ohio Campus Compact. The award is given to “recognize and honor undergraduate students for their outstanding leadership and contributions to community service or service-learning.”
  • Women’s basketball guard Lauren Denison ’24 is named the Great Lakes Region Rookie of the Year by D3hoops.com.
  • The OWU volleyball team completes its spring season without a loss, finishing 7-0.
  • Ohio Wesleyan awards its first round of faculty-staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grants. The funding supports two projects: “Social & Political Responses to Racialized Health Messages” proposed by Phokeng Dailey, Brianna Mack, and Jason Timpson, and “Oral Histories of Food, Community, and Migration” submitted by Christopher Fink and Eugene Rutigliano.
  • OWU presents “Twelfth Night, 2020,” an updated version of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy rewritten by OWU instructor and actor Bradford Sadler ’05. The play marks the first time a full-scale, faculty-directed and designed production has taken place outdoors in the amphitheater.
  • Ohio Wesleyan is included in The Princeton Review rankings of “The Best Value Colleges for 2021,” featuring schools deemed “the most exceptional in the nation at delivering great academics, affordable cost, and great career foundations.”


OWU celebrates the Classes of 2020 and 2021 with its first combined commencement ceremony. (Photo by Rachel Bush ’19)
  • Men’s lacrosse goalkeeper Zach Brasser ’22 is named the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year, making him the third Battling Bishop ever to receive the recognition.
  • OWU women’s track & field teammates Peyton Howell ’23 and Chase Patton ’22 are nationally ranked for the indoor season. Howell is first in the high jump, and Patton is second in the pole vault.
  • Wrestlers Max Beard ’22, Ross Eggleston ’22, Ethan Laws ’24, Ryan McElwee ’22, and Bryce Wittman ’22 earn Scholar All-American honors from the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
  • Baseball player Izaiah Withrow ’22 drives in 9 runs in a single game enabling the first baseman to break the 8-RBI record held in a tie by four former Bishops.
  • Volleyball player Molly Jewett ’22 earns the Presidential Award, the highest honor given at OWU’s 17th annual Dale J. Bruce Scholar-Athlete Awards ceremony.
  • Meaghan Teitelman ’18, a French and Sociology and Anthropology double-major, earns a highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program fellowship to spend eight months teaching English in Lyon, France.
  • In its first cohort hire, Ohio Wesleyan adds six assistant professors who will work collaboratively to help advance OWU academics and support a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus environment.
  • Ohio Wesleyan holds a combined 176th and 177th commencement ceremony to celebrate its Classes of 2020 and 2021. The in-person ceremony is held in Selby Stadium to accommodate physical distancing for attendees.


Slocum Hall is undergoing a complete renovation supported by the largest single outright gift in OWU history. (Photo by Paul Vernon)
  • Isa Johnson ’22 is one of 28 students nationwide to participate in the 2021 Boyce Thompson Institute Summer Research Experience for Undergrads (REU). The institute is affiliated with Cornell University.
  • Men’s lacrosse players Zach Brasser ’21, Conor McGeeney ’21, and Miles Rathell ’22 are named to the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-America teams.
  • Former men’s lacrosse head coach Jay Martin and players Dave Maguire ’98 and Darren McGurn ’98 are inducted into the Ohio Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
  • Ohio Wesleyan announces an $11.25 million renovation of iconic Slocum Hall, supported by a $10 million contribution from an anonymous alumni couple. The contribution, announced previously, is the largest single outright gift in OWU history. The renovated building is set to reopen in fall 2022.


  • Team forward Ashley Smiley ’22 is named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America women’s soccer team.
  • Ohio Wesleyan is part of a consortium of 14 independent, liberal arts colleges and 10 community colleges working together to create transfer pathways to help Ohio community college students earn their four-year bachelor’s degrees.
  • OWU creates 50 openings for fall for new students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and want to attend a University requiring vaccination.
  • Ohio Wesleyan is listed in the “Fiske Guide to Colleges 2022” as one of the “best and most interesting” schools in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland.


OWU opens Bradford Milligan Hall, its first on-campus, senior-student apartment building, in August. (Photo by Pirlo Soe ’21)
  • Ohio Wesleyan welcomes its Class of 2025 and new transfer students. The students represent 32 states and 16 countries. “By the time you graduate,” WCSA President Autumn Ford ’23 tells them at convocation, “you will be astounded at the growth you have made during your four years at OWU.”
  • Ohio Wesleyan opens its first on-campus apartment building, Bradford Milligan Hall. Housing 124 seniors, the complex prepares students to live more independently after graduation.
  • Smith Hall reopens following a two-year, two-phase renovation completed as part of OWU’s $60 million Residential Renewal The building houses 398 first-year students and is intentionally designed to help the incoming Bishops make connections, create communities, and persist to graduation.
  • The Princeton Review names Ohio Wesleyan as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduates. Only about 14% of America’s 2,700 four-year colleges are included in the guidebook.


Dawn Chisebe is named OWU's permanent chief diversity officer. (Photo by James DeCamp)
  • Professor of English Mark Allison releases his first book, “Imagining Socialism: Aesthetics, Anti-politics, and Literature in Britain, 1817-1918.” The book examines British socialist writing across the long 19th century – the century of socialism’s origin.
  • Ohio Wesleyan appoints Dawn Chisebe as its permanent chief diversity officer. Chisebe had served in an interim capacity since August 2020. She will continue to lead, build, and strengthen OWU’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and initiatives.
  • Ohio Wesleyan launches a varsity esports program with the hire of program coordinator and head coach Kyle Jenkins. Competitive play will begin in fall 2022.
  • Fifty-three Ohio Wesleyan students present original work at the University’s 29th annual Patricia Belt Conrades Summer Science Research Symposium.
  • OWU announces its second cohort hire, seeking to hire six tenure-track professorships for the 2022-2023 academic year. The new faculty will work collectively to help the University provide the most connected, innovative, and relevant education possible.
  • U.S. News and World Report ranks Ohio Wesleyan as one of the nation’s “Best Liberal Arts Colleges” and “Best Value Schools” in its “2022 Best Colleges” publication. OWU also is included in the magazine’s unranked list of “A+ Schools for B Students.”


OWU celebrates the success of the seven-year Connect Today, Create Tomorrow fundraising campaign. It is the most successful comprehensive campaign in University history. (Photo by Paul Vernon)
  • Ellie Bearss ’22 is one of 24 college students nationwide selected to participate in this year’s Athens Democracy Forum held in association with The New York Times. Her video also is selected to be played before a forum panel discussion on “Art as Activism.”
  • For 2021, Ohio Wesleyan inducts eight former Battling Bishop standouts – five of them All-America or Academic All-America selections – and a former coach and athletics director into its Athletics Hall of Fame. Inducted are:
    • Kara Dickinson ’95, field hockey
    • Jason Fogelson ’01, men's lacrosse
    • Clarence Hendricks ’34, men’s basketball
    • Roger Ingles, athletics director from 2004-17 and baseball coach from 1984-2005
    • Kirk Jackson ’91, football
    • Sharon Rymut ’10, women’s track & field
    • Andy Schillig ’09, men's golf
    • Sarah Shinn ’10, women’s track & field and cross country
    • Tyler Wall ’11, men’s soccer
  • For 2020, Ohio Wesleyan inducts eight former Battling Bishop standouts – seven of them All-America or Academic All-America selections – into the Athletics Hall of Fame and bestows the Robert M. Strimer Honor Award upon Charlie Hartigan ’75, men’s lacrosse, and the George Gauthier Award upon Catie Butt ’91, women’s swimming and diving. Hall of Fame inductees are:
    • Owen Case ’07, football
    • David Gatz ’10, men’s swimming and diving
    • Chris Goss ’88, men’s lacrosse
    • Norman Lambacher ’31, men’s track & field
    • Laura Marean ’99, women’s swimming and diving
    • Dustin Rudegeair ’08, men’s basketball
    • Rachel Seibel ’10, softball
    • Josh Warren ’07, men’s soccer
  • As part of Homecoming and Family Weekend, Ohio Wesleyan celebrates the end of its seven-year Connect Today, Create Tomorrow comprehensive fundraising campaign. The most successful campaign in OWU history, it raises $237,995,578 in gifts and pledges – surpassing even its $225 million stretch goal by nearly $13 million.


Michele Kibler is named Ohio Wesleyan's new registrar, committed to helping students persist to graduation.
  • Creative Writing Director Amy Butcher releases her second book, “Mothertrucker: Finding Joy on the Loneliest Road in America,” which tells the story of Alaskan truck driver Joy Wiebe as it explores the issue of intimate partner violence. The book is an Amazon No. 1 bestseller in the memoir, travel writing, and feminist theory categories.
  • Ohio Wesleyan appoints Michele Kibler as its new registrar. A 21-year higher education innovator, Kibler helps keep students on track as they work to earn their bachelor’s degrees.
  • Professor of Biological Sciences Chris Wolverton and four student-researchers – Leanna Bauer ’23, Regina Campbell ’22, Abbie Courtright ’21, and Sai Siddharth Suresh Kannan ’24 – present information about their NASA-funded research at the annual conference of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • The men’s soccer team makes its NCAA-record 42nd Division III playoff appearance and its 40th under head coach Jay Martin. In recognition of the successful season, Jaggar Brooker ’24 is named the NCAC Offensive Player of the Year, and Hector Gomez ’22 repeats as the NCAC Midfielder of the Year.
  • The field hockey team wins its first NCAA Division III tournament game and continues to second-round play. The games mark the team’s ninth overall playoff appearance. In recognition of her success, midfielder Astrid Koek ’22 is named the NCAC Offensive Player of the Year.


Sarah “Sally” Ross Soter contributes $1.25 million to the Richard M. Ross Art Museum, which is named in memory of her father.
  • Following the fall sports season, the Battling Bishops are in fourth place in the North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports title chase. Historically, Ohio Wesleyan has earned 157 titles.
  • Professor of English David Caplan publishes his seventh book, “American Poetry: A Very Short Introduction,” part of Oxford University Press’s highly regarded “Very Short Introduction Series.”
  • Ohio Wesleyan and Mount Carmel College of Nursing (MCCN) announce new pre-nursing pathways for students interested in beginning their academic careers and participating in campus life at OWU before earning Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees at Mount Carmel.
  • Ohio Wesleyan adds free telehealth services for students through the Virtual Care Group. The online platform gives OWU students benefits including unlimited medical visits with board-certified physicians, 50-minute counseling visits, life coaching, and on-demand crisis counseling.
  • Sarah “Sally” Ross Soter contributes $1.25 million to the Richard M. Ross Art Museum to create the William and Sarah Soter Endowment. It will help to fund a curator position.