Dr. Charles Jarrett
IRONTON, Ohio – Family, friends, colleagues and students gathered March 22 in Bowman Auditorium to celebrate the life of and to say goodbye to faculty member Dr. Charles Jarrett, who passed away March 19 following a short illness.
Jarrett was an associate professor of sociology, and he dedicated 34 years to touching the hearts and minds of thousands of students at the Southern Campus. In 2017, Jarrett’s excellence was honored when he received the “Regional Education Outstanding Professor Award.”
Additionally, he was recognized multiple times as an “Ohio University Faculty Newsmaker,” in Ohio Magazine’s 2014 “Excellence in Education” section for his dedication to research and students and he has been selected as the “Southern Outstanding Faculty Member” on numerous occasions.
Ohio University Southern Dean Dr. Nicole Pennington saw first-hand the impact he had on everyone in his life. “He truly cared about his students. It was one of the qualities that I most admired about him,” Pennington said. “We will work to carry on his legacy of being an excellent educator who cared about his students. We will all strive to be as passionate as he was about the Southern Campus.”
With Jarrett, mentoring was a common theme. Coordinator of University College and Special Projects Advisor Dr. Kim Keffer agreed. Keffer started her career at the Southern Campus as a student, furthering her education over the years, including the completion of her doctorate, and serving in various positions at the campus.
“Today, I live a life I never thought I’d have because of Dr. Jarrett. He changed my life completely. He changed the lives of everyone who ever sat in his classroom—he saw beyond who you were in that moment and instead recognized who you could become,” Keffer said.
Jarrett was the chair of the Ohio University Diversity and Inclusion committee, a cause that he supported in both words and actions throughout the Tri-State region as well as elsewhere. He spent years researching the Gullah culture on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and using that experience to affect change and social equity for the Gullah/Geechee people, who are African Americans, descendants of enslaved people living in Lowcountry regions of the United States – primarily in South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida.
In addition to his many titles of husband, father, musician and more, Jarrett was an accomplished writer and the 2008 author of “Journey to Wholeness,” an independent publishers IPPY Award winner for “best fiction” for 2008 in the category of literature from among 2,000 titles submitted in the national competition.
Shortly before his death, Jarrett described the impact his work had been on his life. "My research of the Gullah/Geechee community has taken me to the Sea Islands of South Carolina. I have been profoundly affected on a personal and professional level,” Jarrett said. “My National Public Radio stories are an attempt to preserve this unique indigenous culture and promote social and cultural diversity among our students and the residents of southeastern Ohio."