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Patton College of Education Interim Dean, Sara Helfrich

Interim Dean Sara Helfrich

[*Read Dean Helfrich's mock testimony for the Speak Out for Honesty in Education campaign against HB 322 and 327, and find resources to craft your own message to legislators.] 


Welcome to the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education! Here in Athens and across our regional campuses, we prepare leader-educators, practitioners, and human service professionals who share our commitment to lifelong learning and serving society responsibly as change agents in meeting diverse human and social needs. We strive to impact our community locally and globally; continue to set and reach goals of academic excellence; provide an exemplary, engaging student-centered experience; and increase the national prominence of Ohio University. Keeping us on track with our goals is the 2029 Strategic Plan, which focuses on four key strategic areas: Academic Excellence; Rigorous, Influential Research; Exemplary Student-Centered Services; and Vibrant Engagement, Outreach, and Partnerships.

Academic Excellence

The Patton College of Education routinely ranks at or near 100 in the U.S. News and World Report. Our programs have a significant impact on P-16+ learners, providing innovative, forward-thinking advances in teaching, curriculum development, research and creative activities, and service/outreach. And, we capitalize on best practices in student success initiatives, experiential learning, emerging technology, and interdisciplinary discovery.

Our students enter the workforce prepared to lead in fields that include teaching, educational administration, student affairs, higher education, policymaking, counseling, hospitality, recreation, social/human services, fashion, retail, coaching, customer service, and entrepreneurism. No matter the path, our graduates are taking the world by storm. A doctoral student from the Educational Studies Department and specializing in comparative and international educational leadership was named the first OHIO student to receive a grant to travel to Finland through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. An alumna from our Recreation, Sport Pedagogy, and Human Services Department has been featured in the media for her innovative company and clothing line uniting sustainability and fashion.

Rigorous, Influential Research

Our faculty and students engage in research and scholarship that have local, national, and global impact. In 2019-2020, our College managed nearly $1.2 million in grants and awards. Recent awards to faculty in our Teacher Education Department include a $2.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a project that prepares STEM professionals to become teachers, and a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to research connecting elementary mathematics teaching to real-world issues.

We also have faculty from each of our departments who are published in top tier journals, have presented at national and global conferences, and serve as media resources and influencers as experts in their fields. Recently, two faculty from our Counseling and Higher Education Department have received lifetime achievement awards. The Patton College also offers honors programs for exceptional undergraduate students who wish to engage in rigorous, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary research, assisted by faculty leadership.

Exemplary Student-Centered Services

Our College has its own Student Affairs Department, which focuses on recruitment, student success and retention practices, professional advising, and career preparation and placement services. We offer prospective students a unique, individualized campus visit called “Green Carpet Day” where they can visit Patton Hall, sit in on a class, meet with faculty and current students, eat in the dining halls, and tour campus.

We have also instituted a Student Success Initiative to identify and support students who are engaging in challenging classes and/or struggling in classes. We recently launched Brothers RISE (Rallying to Inspire and Shape Education), an initiative designed to strengthen public education by recruiting students—particularly African American males—into Teacher Education and supporting them through graduation and beyond. And we offer career and leadership training and support to help students locate, apply for, and land internships, as well as employment after graduation.

Vibrant Engagement, Outreach, and Partnerships

The Patton College creates a measurable, positive impact on the local and regional area by building strong community partnerships and providing opportunities for service learning and community-engaged research centered on interdisciplinary, collaborative activities. The majority of courses and programs offered through The Patton College have experiential learning components where students engage, collaborate, and problem-solve with regional communities and organizations.

For instance, Teacher Education’s CARE program partners with the Federal Hocking School District to provide students with hands-on education in a rural environment, and the OHIO Teach Cleveland program partners with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to provide students with hands-on education in an urban environment. Our Stevens Literacy Center offers various workforce development initiatives, including a program that prepares soon-to-be-released incarcerated males to be “Restaurant Ready.”

Mission, Vision, and Values

Our students, alumni, faculty, and staff exemplify The Patton College’s mission and vision of lifelong and limitless learning and the values of leadership, change agency, and diversity. These virtues are integrated into every aspect of our daily work and the operation of the College. Simply put, we aim to make the world a better place.


Sara Helfrich's Signature



Sara R. Helfrich, PhD

Interim Dean