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Sharing rich vistas of the region
Tours earn geography professors Vision OHIO Excellence Awards 

Feb 15, 2008  
By Kim Corriher

On a day that celebrated -- among other attributes -- Ohio University's unique setting, two faculty members were singled out for helping others gain a greater appreciation of southeast Ohio. 

Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl presented Vision OHIO Excellence Awards to Timothy Anderson and Geoff Buckley, associate professors of geography, for their commitment to helping Ohio University realize its future through outreach and community partnerships. 

Specifically, Anderson and Buckley were commended for leading countless tours that familiarize faculty, staff, students and community members with the region.

"Outreach and partnerships must be based on mutual respect derived from knowledge," Krendl said. "That knowledge should encompass a familiarity with the history, the land and the people of the region."

One of their most recent excursions, this past fall, introduced new faculty and staff to the local communities and landscapes that have shaped the cultural, social and economic history of the area. For Anderson and Buckley, the tours are a small way to convey how Ohio University fits into the region -- and how the region has shaped the university.

"There's a rich history out there, and many people don't know about it," Buckley said. "A lot of people know Athens, they know 33 up to Columbus and 32 out to Cincinnati, but they've never been two miles off of the highway."

The excursions led by Anderson and Buckley first took the form of field trips for students in their undergraduate classes. Over the course of four or five years, the tours have grown to include members of the university's faculty and the Athens community.

"We were both humbled and honored to receive this award -- and surprised," said Anderson, chair of the Department of Geography. "We are honored to be recognized by the university for doing something that means so much to the both of us."

Buckley said getting out and about is vital in his profession.

"As geographers, it is one of our goals to get our students -- and all people really -- out into the field as much as possible," Buckley said. 

The tours center on two distinct areas of study where the professors have focused their respective research efforts over the years. 

Buckley -- whose research deals with historical geography and environmental history -- leads tours and discussions related to the region's coal-mining industry. The trip takes in working and closed mines and includes interactions with former coal miners who describe the industry in the 1970s and '80s.

Anderson was drawn to the area through his study of the Pennsylvania German settlers who came to the region during the early 19th century, transplanting their unique cultural identity and distinct agricultural system. The juxtaposition of the two communities and their physical and cultural landscapes gives the region an unusual physical landscape.

"There is a part of the trip where you are traveling through Appalachia and then, just two miles later, you suddenly 'punch out' into the Midwest," Anderson said. "You can see the difference very clearly. There are few other places in this country where you can see such distinct cultural divides over such a short distance." 

Related Links
New faculty members tour region http://www.ohio.edu/outlook/07-08/October/103f.cfm
Department of Geography http://jupiter.phy.ohiou.edu/Departments/Geography/ 

Published: Feb 15, 2008 01:09 PM  

Photo by Kevin Riddell

Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl presented the Vision OHIO Award to geography faculty Geoff Buckley (center) and Tim Anderson.

Photographer: Kevin Riddell

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