Ohio University

OHIO faculty recognized for elevating University’s profile through the media

Published: December 16, 2020 Author: Staff reports

Every year since 2015, Ohio University community members have gathered at the annual Faculty Newsmakers Gala to celebrate hundreds of OHIO faculty who promote their research, expertise and overall excellence of our University through their interactions with the press.  

The Gala not only honors all faculty members who have been mentioned in the media, but also recognizes the “Top 10” faculty with the most media mentions.

Due to COVID-19, OHIO was unable to host a live event. Instead, OHIO has honored the dedication and work of our faculty through a digital Top 10 countdown on OHIO’s social media channels.

During the week, the Top 10 newsmakers were featured on social media, counting down to the sole faculty member with the most media mentions in 2019.

Created to honor faculty who elevate the University and raise its national and global profile through media coverage of their work and expertise, this year OHIO celebrates 284 faculty newsmakers who made headlines in calendar year 2019.

“We are grateful for the dedication and expertise these faculty members bring not just to their respective fields, but also to our students,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “To say this year has been a challenge would be an understatement, but I am incredibly proud to see how these faculty members have adapted and persevered, delivering excellence even during these difficult times.”

University Communications and Marketing (UCM) partners with faculty members and researchers across the University who are committed to sharing OHIO’s stories through engagement with media around the country and all over the world.

At UCM, these individuals are known as “OHIO faculty newsmakers” and are defined as employees who, regardless of their title or classification, teach at Ohio University and have been included in media placements provided by Cision, a monitoring service used by UCM to track the University’s media placements. Faculty newsmakers may include tenured and non-tenured faculty, as well as administrators who serve as educators in OHIO’s classrooms.

Many of OHIO’s faculty newsmakers take part in the 
Ohio University’s Experts Directory, a searchable database that makes it easy for members of the media to find and connect with Ohio University’s expert sources on a broad range of subjects.

“Ohio University is home to some of the best and brightest faculty in the world,” Executive Director of Communications Carly Leatherwood said. “We are indebted to these incredible experts who go above and beyond to share their knowledge and expertise to showcase our great institution in the global spotlight.”

Representing 10 academic units on the Athens Campus and all five of the University’s regional campuses, this year’s 284 faculty newsmakers were featured in 3,159 media reports and more than 1,000 news outlets during the 2019 calendar year.

“These awards demonstrate the broad impact that our faculty have, not just in their disciplines and on our students, but on society at large,” Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs said.  “Translating academic expertise and high-impact research into meaningful information for our broader communities is one of the critical roles of a leading public university. I am grateful that our faculty embrace that role as one of the many ways their expertise, hard work, and dedication continue increase the academic reputation of Ohio University and make a difference in the world.”

The following OHIO faculty newsmakers were named OHIO’s Top 10 Newsmakers for the most media placements in 2019:

  1. David Ridpath, associate professor of sport management in the College of Business, was mentioned 514 times in the media in 2019. He has been a top newsmaker every year since the inception of the Faculty Newsmakers Honors in 2015. He is an expert in intercollegiate athletics, intercollegiate athletic governance, sports law, sports administration, and governance reform, among others. To claim the top spot with the most news hits, the majority of Ridpath’s mentions came from commenting on athlete compensation, schools and coaches fighting NCAA allegations and changes to the NCAA. Ridpath recently announced a new OHIO partnership with the University of Bayreuth (UBT) in Germany that offers students an undergraduate double degree in sport management, in which he’s the program director.
  2. Katherine Jellison, history professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was mentioned 451 times in the media in 2019. She has been a newsmaker all five years, making the top 10 list four times. Jellison is an expert in gender in politics, women’s history, contemporary U.S. politics, marriage and wedding customs and first ladies. She is quoted regularly on Melania Trump and her role as the First Lady. One major news mention included Jellison discussing the First Lady growing into her role, yet not delving into the associated politics. Jellison has been honored with numerous awards including the Excellence in Feminist Pedagogy Award, the University Professor Award and designation as a Fellow in the Charles J. Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities. She has also received several research grants and fellowships, including awards from the Smithsonian Institution and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
  3. Patrick O’Connor, professor of anatomical sciences in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, was mentioned 212 times in the media in 2019. O’Connor has been a faculty newsmaker every year, and this is the third time he’s reached the Top 10. His expertise is in paleontology, specifically addressing how organisms are matched to their environments and how changing environments ultimately influence biotic diversity on the planet. He has conducted field research in various parts of the world, including ongoing projects in Tanzania, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt, and Antarctica. One of O’Connor’s major news mentions included commentary on how plant-eating crocodiles thrived during the Jurassic period.
  4. Nancy Stevens, professor of functional morphology and vertebrate paleontology in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, was mentioned 178 times in the media in 2019. Stevens has been a newsmaker every year since the beginning of the Faculty Newsmakers Gala, placing in the Top 10 for the second time. Her expertise is in paleontology, extinction, environmental change, fossils, and conservation, among others. She presently leads paleontological exploration in the Cenozoic deposits of the Rukwa Rift Basin of Tanzania, and her international team has discovered several new species of fossil mammals, crocodylians, snakes, frogs, fish, and invertebrates. Her study announcing a new species of meat-eating mammal larger than any big cat around was heavily reported in 2019.
  5. Lawrence Witmer, Chang Ying-Chien professor of paleontology and professor of anatomy in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, was mentioned 146 times in the media in 2019. Witmer was named the top newsmaker for the 2018 calendar year and has been a newsmaker since 2015. His expertise is in paleontology, fossils, vertebrate morphology, and evolution, among others. Witmer’s lab was one of the first research labs to use computerized tomography (CT) scanning and computer visualization in paleontological research, which he uses to compare the anatomy of modern animals with prehistoric fossils to reveal how ancient beasts may have lived and evolved. Many of Witmer’s mentions came from a study he co-authored revealing that the T-Rex had a built-in air conditioner that allowed its head to remain cool.
  6. Robert Föehl, executive-in-residence for business law and ethics in the College of Business, was mentioned 95 times in the media in 2019. This is Föehl’s third year as a newsmaker and his first time making the top 10. His expertise is in business ethics, business law, ethical leadership, and corporate social responsibility, among others. Föehl was quoted in numerous articles on how to deal with debt collectors, saying, “Usually the first thing that's going to happen is that the creditor itself is going to contact you to try to get payment, but if too much time has passed, that's usually when they will turn to the services of a third-party debt collector." Prior to starting in academia, Föehl was Target’s first Director of Corporate Compliance & Ethics, establishing the vision, strategy and team charged with ensuring an effective compliance program and advancing Target’s reputation for being one of the world’s most ethical companies.
  7. Elizabeth Beverly, associate professor and Heritage Faculty Endowed Fellowship in Behavioral Diabetes in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, was mentioned 88 times in the media in 2019. This is Beverly’s third year as a newsmaker and first year making the top 10. Beverly published a study on how people who worked at or attended universities had high levels of diabetes distress, a condition of feeling worried and frustrated about living with diabetes that is associated with fewer self-care behaviors, suboptimal glycemic control and lower quality of life. This study was featured in over 80 media outlets. Her expertise is in behavioral diabetes, psychosocial factors, diabetes self-care and qualitative methods.
  8. Janet Duerr, associate professor of biology and molecular cellular biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was mentioned 73 times in the media in 2019. This is Duerr’s first time being named a newsmaker. Her expertise is in molecular cellular biology, teaching laboratory genetics, fundamentals of animal cell biology, and biological sciences, among others. The majority of Duerr’s media mentions come from being quoted in a story about the first complete wiring diagram of an animal’s nervous system. Her laboratory research uses a model organism, the small soil nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, to examine the development and function of the nervous system. 
  9. Luke Pittaway, O’Bleness professor of entrepreneurship, professor of management systems and associate dean in the College of Business, was mentioned 59 times in the media in 2019. Pittaway has been a newsmaker every year since the beginning of this recognition, being named a top newsmaker for the 2018 calendar year as well. His expertise includes small businesses, business growth, leadership, corporate venturing, and entrepreneurship, among others. Many of Pittaway’s mentions come from numerous articles where he commented on how a survey revealed that most Americans want to start a business rather than retire. In 2018, Pittaway was awarded USASBE's Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year. He has also helped found and lead three centers for entrepreneurial research and education in the U.K. and the U.S.
  10. David Nguyen, assistant professor of counseling and higher education in the Patton College of Education, was mentioned 45 times in the media in 2019. This is Nguyen’s first time being recognized as a newsmaker. His expertise is in counseling and higher education, focusing his research on access and equity issues in postsecondary education. Nguyen was featured in numerous media outlets discussing what to consider prior to taking out a student loan, saying students should consider filing for federal aid early using old tax returns, understand the different types of loans, contact their financial aid adviser, understand the impact of debt and learn about repayment options. In 2019, Nguyen received OHIO’s Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award.

The full list of OHIO newsmakers for the 2019 calendar year can be found at the OHIO Faculty Newsmakers website.