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Scott Titsworth and Lynn Harter

Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth and his wife, Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies and the Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professor of Health Communication Lynn Harter

Photographer: Megan Westervelt

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On becoming a Bobcat and giving back

Dean and professor in the Scripps College of Communication establish fund that benefits communication studies undergraduates and honors Scripps College faculty and staff


Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth and his wife, Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies and the Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professor of Health Communication Lynn Harter, put a lot of thought into how they wanted to leave their legacy at Ohio University. Reflecting on their time at OHIO and in Athens helped them decide to give in a way that honors students as well as four of their Scripps College colleagues. In answer their desire to give back, Titsworth and Harter established and endowed the Excellence in Undergraduate Education, Communication Studies.

The gift is a support fund for undergraduate students in the School of Communication Studies (COMS). Titsworth and Harter set up the fund to establish four awards that will be given to outstanding communication studies students annually starting in 2014. All of them are named in honor of colleagues with whom they have worked alongside. (See sidebar)

Communication Studies students at OHIO learn best practices on how to ask questions and pursue answers by critically thinking, describing, synthesizing, critiquing, and imagining, Harter said. Students are taught how messages and interactions occur and how they are shaped by institutions, emerging technologies, and globalization. They often apply these skills into one of three areas of concentration: Organizational Communication, Health Communication, and Communication and Public Advocacy. Graduates have careers in a range of fields like healthcare as patient advocates or human resource professionals, finance as financial service providers and in politics as campaign managers and legislative staffers.

“When thinking of how we wanted to give back to Ohio University, we reflected on our 11 years here as faculty members. We understand how blessed we are, how enriched our lives have been because of the students we’ve taught and learned from, and how fortunate we are to work with this faculty,” Titsworth said. “This gift is aimed at honoring both of them because they have helped us become Bobcats.”

“It’s a privilege to be a footnote in a student’s life as an instructor,” Harter said.  “It’s a gift to be able to learn from students. This fund honors and acknowledges those students as well as some of our colleagues.”

The Gayle D. McKerrow Outstanding Student Employee recognizes McKerrow’s long tenure at COMS as an office administrator and for her mentorship of undergraduate student workers, Titsworth said.

“Gayle helped those students grow. Faculty also benefitted from the guidance Gayle gave student workers as they worked on projects for COMS faculty.” McKerrow retired from her position in COMS in October, 2013.

Titsworth said he knows Professor Tom Daniels as someone who has always stepped in to assist with a variety of projects. Establishing the Tom D. Daniels Outstanding Junior Award recognizes his body of work.

“Over the years, Tom has been asked to do several jobs with a wide range in duties and responsibilities. To my knowledge, he’s never said no,” Titsworth said. “He has served the university and college for years. He’s worked closely with me over the past few years on the Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication building project.”

“For me, Tom’s primary contribution was in co-teaching statistics with me,” Harter said. “He is truly gifted in teaching analytic reasoning and can translate statistical analysis in a way that students really understand.” Daniels will continue working on the Schoonover Center renovation project before returning to the classroom as part of his early retirement from the college.

While Titsworth and Harter look forward to new beginnings in the Scripps College’s newly-opened home at the Schoonover Center, they are honored to be able to look back… and give back.

“Ohio University is a wonderful place to work. We have beautiful scenery and a great community,” Titsworth said.  “The people here create a special community and we are in a position to give back and honor it. That’s exciting for us.”

Raymie C. McKerrow Student Leadership Award
“Honoring students for their leadership reflects Scott and Lynn’s commitment to recognizing outstanding students for their contribution to the School, University, and community. I am honored to be associated with this commitment, as it is one I share.”

Anita C. James Outstanding Senior Award
“I am humbled that Scott and Lynn have honored me by creating the Anita James Outstanding Senior award. It was my good fortune to spend most of my teaching career among the incredible faculty, staff, and students in the School of Communication Studies. This award is a reminder of the power of the teacher in the lives of our students.”

Tom D. Daniels Outstanding Junior Award
“I am quite honored to have the outstanding junior recognition made in my name. I have been attached in one way or another to Ohio University and the School of Communications Studies since I first came here as a graduate student in 1972, and I know the value of such scholarships for the students who receive them.”

Gayle D. McKerrow Outstanding Student Employee (retired)
“I am very appreciative of the honor the Outstanding Student Employee Award represents, both for the students who will be recognized, and for the recognition of my own commitment to the student employees of the School of Communication Studies.”

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