By Casey S. Elliott
Fifty years ago, Joseph M. Denham earned a spot in Ohio University history, becoming its first student to earn a doctoral degree.
Denham received his degree in organic chemistry in 1959. His degree helped him secure a faculty position at Hiram College, from which he retired in 1993. That experience gave him a solid foundation to build upon, he said.
"(My education) gave me excellent examples of teaching at the faculty level," said Denham, who lives in Hiram, Ohio, a suburb of Akron. "You have terrific faculty here."
In the ensuing years, Ohio University's graduate programs have only grown, but the emphasis on teaching and working with students hasn't diminished. Today, students can choose from among 40 Ph.D. programs at Ohio University; a number of those specialties will be represented at Friday's Graduate Commencement ceremonies.
"One thing that's really a key, unique strength about Ohio University is the very close interaction between faculty advisers and the doctoral and master's students," said Jenny Hines, interim associate dean for the Graduate College. "Being a smaller graduate institution, students are not lost in a big group when they are working with an adviser or scholar. I think it's that personalized attention that makes for a very strong education.
As the university looks toward its future in graduate education, Hines said she believes that faculty quality and the interdisciplinary approach of its programs will sustain and expand the graduate experience.
"The diversity in the topics being investigated and interdisciplinary projects is really where much of graduate education is moving," she said.