Dec 13, 2012
By Monica Chapman
Poverty isn’t news to Appalachia. It’s simply the state of affairs in many pockets of the region. So when Ohio University’s University Communications and Marketing (UCM) team sought to highlight the institution’s contribution to the lifting up the region, it was faced with a challenge: How do you give a fresh perspective to such a pervasive issue?
The solution is simple but effective: One face at a time.
That’s the approach taken by UCM’s ongoing “Appalachia Rising” series, which features the programs and initiatives through which the University community is elevating lives across the region. These people-focused success stories take you behind the scenes and highlight the many meaningful ways OHIO serves society by supporting educational, economic, creative and wellness endeavors, as well as other humanitarian efforts.
Originally created as an editorial series in Compass, many of these articles are now being compiled into a new book - "Appalachia Rising: Stories of Hope and Achievement from Ohio's Appalachian Hills and Valleys" - to be published by Ohio University Press in early February 2013. The series achieved international recognition by placing in the top three in its category in the 2011 Ragan Employee Communications Awards.
Through 17 feature-length articles, "Appalachia Rising" exemplifies the mutually reciprocal relationship between Ohio University and its Appalachian setting. The stories artfully illustrate how these communities are forging ahead hand-in-hand: Revitalizing the environment through stewardship of shared resources, empowering entrepreneurs through economic development, and bringing hope and healing to neighbors in need through access to programs and services.
"'Appalachia Rising' captures the essence of the University through the works and words of the people in and of the region – students, faculty, staff, alumni and others involved in support and revitalization," said UCM Executive Director Renea Morris.
Made possible through a partnership between UCM and Ohio University Press, the book and series highlight contributions by a broad spectrum of academic programs, including the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, the College of Health Sciences and Professions, and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. In addition, the series features the work of many student organizations and administrative offices at OHIO's main and regional campuses.
"A point of pride for me over the 32 years I've worked at Ohio University is the commitment across all six campuses to elevate the quality of life in Appalachia Ohio, whether it be through students doing community service, our health professionals providing essential care, the advice our faculty and staff offer to local communities on economic development, sustainability and environmental conservation, and the cultural enrichment that our extraordinary fine arts programs provide to local communities," said University College Dean David Descutner, whose vision and experiences as a first-generation college student inspired the series.
"Relationships between the campuses of Ohio University and the communities in which they are embedded historically have been strong and fruitful, and it is more important than ever that those relationships continue to be mutually nurtured and reinforced," he added.
Throughout the centuries, Ohio University has become synonymous with the rolling Appalachian foothills. The region’s picturesque setting, together with its hard-working people and their core values, has been the cornerstone upon which the University has built its legacy.
Today, collaborations between faculty, staff, students, and community members have created a synergistic environment where new methods can be developed to address age-old problems in the community, according to contributor Richard Greenlee, an eighth generation Appalachian and first generation college student, who now serves as dean of Ohio University's Eastern Campus and interim dean of Ohio University's Zanesville Campus.
"The stories in this book reflect the essence of the Appalachian spirit and the power of combining the academic culture of higher education with the culture of the surrounding community in which we live," Greenlee said.
This winter, approximately 300 copies of "Appalachia Rising: Stories of Hope and Achievement from Ohio's Appalachian Hills and Valleys" will be mailed as part of the President’s Annual Report package to college and university presidents around the country. According to Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, the book demonstrates Ohio University's commitment to Appalachian Ohio in its quest to become the nation’s best student-centered, transformative learning community.
"As we seek to position ourselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century, this partnership has never been more important," President McDavis said. "The stories outlined here offer a glimpse into the work that is raising the region - our region - day by day. They are points of pride and sources of inspiration, but it is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can and will accomplish."
Individual copies of "Appalachia Rising: Stories of Hope and Achievement from Ohio's Appalachian Hills and Valleys" will be available through Bobcat Essentials in Ohio University’s Athens Campus Baker University Center. Institutional copies in bulk order will be available for purchase through University Communications and Marketing, www.ohio.edu/ucm.