The Ohio University Lancaster Campus is mourning the loss of an assistant professor of education who taught on campus for more than 25 years. Dr. Jane Johnsen passed away in her sleep January 31.
"Her contributions to student and campus life were many, such as organizing Women in Technology and Science, advising student groups and taking students on a Study Abroad trip. She will be extremely missed on campus," said Lancaster Campus Dean Jim Smith.
Johnsen was hired in September, 1987. She was named 2003 Professor of the Year by members of the Ohio University Lancaster Campus Beta Beta Theta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
Retired Communication Studies Associate Professor Karen Evans had an office next to Johnsen for several years and the two became good friends. Evans said Johnsen was always there for students to help them with both academic and personal issues.
"She was very inspirational. She was there for students that felt out of place or felt that they didn't have a place here," said Evans. "She was one of the first faculty members to become an advocate for lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender students on campus. Jane was really dedicated to this campus and our community."
OUL Adjunct Instructor Kellie Demmler said Johnsen was her mentor when she was doing undergraduate work on the Lancaster Campus.
"She always challenged me and when I had the crazy idea of doing my master's degree at Harvard, I came in and talked to Jane. As soon as I told her she said 'Oh, absolutely! We are going to do this.' She wrote a wonderful recommendation letter for me," said Demmler. "She was a huge, wonderful support and she even came to my graduation at Harvard."
Demmler has been asked to take over the Educational Technology course Johnsen was teaching this semester.
"It's going to be hard to step into her shoes but it's an honor to be asked," said Demmler.
In addition to teaching and publishing research, Johnsen made presentations on topics ranging from television production and viewing to computers and technology at the Association of Educational Communications and Technology, American Educational Research Association, the National Survey of Student Engagement Authors Symposium and others. She also took the lead in a mentoring/partnership role with education majors and the Lancaster City Schools and served on many campus committees, including the scholarship committee, advising, computers and technology and women in technology and science.
"She loved teaching. She loved students," said Evans. "Students were drawn to her. The students are going to miss out by not having experienced her."
Johnsen was an integral part of bringing the Diversity Studies Certificate to the Lancaster Campus this spring. OUL is the first regional campus at Ohio University to offer the certificate.
"She was very passionate about diversity," said Evans. "I think being a woman, she understood what it was like to be discriminated against and to feel like a second class citizen.Her spirit was always about community. She was about drawing people in, never excluding people."
Associate Professor Jaylynne Hutchinson, program coordinator for the Cultural Studies in Education program on the Athens' campus, worked with Jane for 16 years.
"Jane was always a voice of support for me personally in our work in Cultural Studies and diversity," Hutchinson said. "There is one thing you could never doubt about Jane, and that was her passionate support for social justice and equity for all K-12 students in our nation. That was the guiding star in her work. It is not a coincidence then, that as soon as Jane heard that we had developed an undergraduate Diversity Studies Certificate program here at the Athens' campus, that she contacted me immediately and asked: 'How can I make this happen here in Lancaster?' That was her commitment--to educate. The world is better because she was in it. She will be greatly missed."
Johnsen earned undergraduate degrees in English, theater and secondary English education at Wittenberg University and The Ohio State University, and graduate and doctoral degrees in instructional design, school media and technology, also from OSU.
The 60-year old lived in Amanda and is survived by her husband, Don Renner.