Jane Johnson

Assistant Professor of Education Jane Johnsen

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Lancaster | Pickerington

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First Family Pledges Funds for Tutoring Center at OUL

When Assistant Professor of Education Jane Johnsen passed away unexpectedly last January, retired Ohio University Lancaster Campus Assistant Professor of Health Technology Debra Smith and her husband, Lancaster Mayor Dave Smith, wanted to find the right way to honor her memory. After speaking to OUL Development Director Mandi Custer, the Smiths decided to pledge $25,000 to the fundraising effort for a new tutoring center on campus in hopes of naming it after Johnsen. 

"Jane Johnsen made a huge impact on campus. She engaged with students and had a wonderful ability to inspire them to reach their full potential by giving them guidance and support along the way," said Lancaster Campus Dean Dr. James Smith. "Her guidance ranged from encouragement to find the resources the students needed to be successful in a course, to helping a graduate apply to Harvard to continue his/her education. Naming a tutoring center after her is a wonderful way to continue her work on campus and honor her contributions." 

“Jane was here for 25 years teaching education," said Custer. "She went above and beyond for the students. She wanted to make their education as impactful as possible. She took the extra time and did the extras for the students. After she passed away, the Smiths said this is where we want our money to go if we can name the tutoring center after Dr. Johnsen."  

The new tutoring center will be located on the first floor of Brasee Hall across from "The Zone," which is the student lounge. There is already a tutoring center on campus, but it's limited with space and services. The new center will provide students with all the tools and resources they need to succeed in the classroom. 

"This is going to be a specific place for students to go get extra tutoring. There are going to be areas for group tutoring. There are going to be areas for private tutoring and quiet study," said Custer. "It's just the nature of a regional campus. We have a lot of non-traditional students returning to class and they haven't been in the classroom in 20 years. They are back in math class, and they haven't used this math since high school. It has nothing to do with intelligence, but they need to brush up on their math skills."  

The Smith's gift is called a matching gift. The Smiths will match every gift pledged to the tutoring center up to $25,000.  That means whatever is pledged will be doubled, and up to $50,000 can be raised for the tutoring center through this effort. 

"Anybody can give at any level. Students, faculty, staff, graduates, and community members are all welcome to give to this effort," said Custer. "I can't think of a better tribute to Jane Johnsen. She believed in going above and beyond. That is definitely what a tutoring center is."

If the money is raised and the Ohio University Board of Trustees approves it, the center will be called "The Dr. Jane Johnsen Tutoring Center." Campus leaders believe that the expansion of the tutoring center will help students in class during the short term and help them to graduate and be successful outside the classroom in the long term. 

"A tutoring center is crucial to student retention," said Custer. "This is a way to help get students that degree that is going to get them a job that is going to move them forward in life in a very meaningful and productive way." 

The fundraising effort for the tutoring center is part of The Promise Lives Campaign. The Campaign is a $450 million fundraising initiative at Ohio University to support scholarships, faculty, the student experience, facilities, and community outreach. So far the Campaign has raised more than $430 million in support of these priorities. The Campaign ends in June, 2015. 

On the Lancaster Campus, funds are being raised to support scholarships, arts and culture, facilities and future endeavors through planned giving. 

Ohio University's Lancaster Campus and Pickerington Center are a critical gateway to education and opportunity for students and the community. Fourteen associate's degree programs and nine bachelor's degree majors are offered, along with four master's degree programs at the Pickerington Center. 

The Lancaster Campus has experienced tremendous progress since its founding in 1956 and continues to provide a high quality university education within a small-college setting at an affordable price. Ohio University regional campuses create the opportunity for students to imagine unlimited possibilities because Ohio University inspires students to transform themselves and their community.  

To learn more about The Promise Lives Campaign or to make a donation to the Lancaster Campus and Pickerington Center, contact Mandi Custer at custera@ohio.edu or 740-654-6711 ext. 234.