To lead is a responsibility that Ashland University doesn’t take lightly. This obligation is especially significant when it comes to setting up our students for success, both now and for the future.
Ashland’s “Accent on the Individual” motto has a long, rich history. And for good reason! It remains as true today as it did decades ago. The individual is always the primary focus—because it’s through inspired, educated, and enlightened individuals coming together that true, lasting change in our world happens.
See below to learn more about the dedicated individuals who work every day to create a holistic student experience for everyone who comes to Ashland to find their passion. Their life’s calling. Their story.
My story of Ashland is interesting, in that it didn’t happen here.
Back in my days as a professor, I taught 20th-century drama and English. I began all of my classes by going around the room and asking each student to name a book they loved. I didn’t care what it was—as long as they were reading, I knew I could get through to them.
One student in particular—we’ll call him George—answered the question with a shake of his head: “I don’t read,” he said. “At all. I hate it.” I worked with him all semester, but by the end, it didn’t seem like I’d accomplished much. George still didn’t seem interested in reading.
Fast forward a few years, and I was pulling up to a hotel in Las Vegas. I looked out my window and saw a valet I recognized. I asked another employee if it was George.
The man replied, “George? You mean Shakespeare?”
“Shakespeare?” I asked, a bit confused.
“Yeah,” said the man. “We call him Shakespeare because he never shuts up about the books he’s always reading.”
I consider this my Ashland story because it fully encapsulates what our mission is here at this institution. Because, if we truly believe in the “Accent on the Individual” credo, then it directly follows that we believe each and every student, faculty member, alumnus and staff member has intrinsic worth. Each has extraordinary value. From day one, it’s been my mission to make sure no student fails here at Ashland as long as I’m President. I—and my entire team—work every day to make sure no individual is ever treated like just another member of the group. I firmly believe there is no such thing as “an average human being.” We all have a higher purpose, a divine calling, and it is our job to make sure everyone within the Ashland community is given every opportunity to realize their potential.
Vice President Institutional Advancement
The years earning my undergraduate degree at Ashland shaped me into the person I am today.
My family began at Ashland. I met my husband here. Our sons, Luke and Jack, have grown up as Eagles. Ashland has given me more than I can express in words.
Professors such as Dr. Richmond, Dr. Shockney and Dr. Randall saw me differently than I saw myself. The friends I made, my sorority—Alpha Delta Pi—Orientation Team, tennis and the Women’s Chorus were as influential as my academics.
Many women leaders—Becky Barnes, Sue Heimann, Sue Ramsey, Dr. Khush Pittenger and Dr. Lucille Ford—laid a strong foundation and invested in me. I have desired to carry their passion and mission forward and prepare Ashland for the next generation of students and future leaders.
I was drawn to Ashland because of the people, and for that reason, I have dedicated my career to my alma mater.
The day we dedicated the Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences was a career highlight! Standing amongst friends and waiting for the ribbon to be cut, surrounded by nursing students dressed in their scrubs, I knew this college would graduate talented nurses who understand the meaning of “Accent on the Individual.” Many individuals gave gifts so Ashland could provide students with an education that will serve others and indeed impact the world. Is there any greater gift? Education is the great equalizer, and at Ashland, we provide an experience that can’t be duplicated.
Class of 1972, Ashland University Board of Trustees, The Jack W. Liebert Military & Veteran Resource Center
Applying to Ashland College in 1968 was an easy decision for me. I knew I wanted to attend a small college, and I did not want to be too far from home in Columbus. Also, Ashland College was offering a two-year secretarial degree, which was of interest to me having worked alongside my father’s secretary over the summers. When the letter arrived, I discovered I had been conditionally accepted. The College was implementing a new program for students whose grades were borderline or just below the criteria for Fall acceptance. This experimental program would accept 20 males and 20 females for a six-week summer program. After the six weeks, if my grades met the criteria, I would be accepted for the Fall semester. I knew what I had to do, and I succeeded. I was accepted, received my BS in Business Education from Ashland College, and taught for eleven years. Because Ashland College accepted me, I can truly say I experienced the “Accent on the Individual” that was so important in 1968 and still is today to the University.
Now I have the opportunity to give back to the University by committing to establish The Jack W. Liebert Military & Veteran Resource Center. I do this in honor of my father who served in WWII and the Korean War. It is important for me to let the Veterans attending Ashland University now, and in the future, know how much we appreciate their time, their sacrifices, and dedication to defend our country. This Resource Center at Ashland University will serve all their needs, give them a place for community, and prepare them for a successful future.
Class of 1975, Ashland University Board of Trustees, The Freshman Orientation Program
When I first got to Ashland freshman year, I came in as an only child from a small town about 140 miles away. Over the first week, I was incredibly homesick. Dr. John Fraas was my first economics professor. At the time, he was early into his career, so he was only a few years older than me. From the beginning, he made it apparent he was there for his students, no matter what they needed. He was dedicated to our success, and, for me, it meant his office door was always open for whatever I needed. This gesture was critical to my staying at Ashland. He made sure I was adjusting and becoming part of the Ashland community. Dr. Fraas, Dr. Lucille Ford and Dr. Fred Rafeld each had a critical role in shaping my life. I met my wife, Anne, while at Ashland. I was so inspired by my early experience here that I wanted to give back in the same way. So, Anne and I started the Freshman Orientation Program in 2016, which offers incoming freshman the opportunity to get plugged in and settled before the semester starts. We had life-changing experiences here at Ashland, and we wanted to lay the groundwork for the next generation of students to have the same opportunities.
Major Gifts Officer
I think some of my fondest memories at Ashland came from playing on the baseball team. At the time, Ashland was the only Division II school in Ohio, so we traveled all over the Midwest. We also played a lot of Division I schools, including several Big 10 teams—Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana. In 1995, we made it to the College World Series. We took a bus down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The whole experience was fantastic. I built a lot of lasting friendships during that time, and those years as an undergrad here shaped the direction of my life in amazing and lasting ways.
Associate Director of Athletics Development
Dr. Sharon Valente was my advisor while I was here as a finance major. She took a genuine interest in me as a student and pushed me beyond what I thought I could do. She left the university in ’08, and we lost touch for a number of years. I was a late adopter of Facebook, and when I finally joined, within ten minutes, she’d sent me a friend request. She took a real interest in my life; she still sends me personal emails. Dr. Valente was a great teacher and made sure I was successful as a student while she was here. But, she’s shown time and time again that even though she’s not teaching here anymore, even all these years later, she’s still making sure that I’m successful in life.
Director of Alumni and Parent Relations
Being from New Hampshire, as a high school senior I had never heard of Ashland University. A good family friend graduated from here, though, and he turned me on to what a great place this was. I wanted to play basketball, which was another reason why Ashland felt like it was a good fit. That first semester, however, was kind of a rough transition. If it hadn’t been for professors like Dr. Bob Wendling and Dr. Bob Rinehart, I doubt I would have stayed. But they reached out to me on a personal level and made me feel welcome. They cared about my academics, of course, but their main concern was for me as an individual. Those are the things that stick with you through the years, and those experiences have helped me a lot in my current position here at the university. In building relationships with other alumni, the experiences where the “Accent on the Individual” really stands out are what connect those who graduated from Ashland to those currently experiencing Ashland and all it has to offer first-hand. People here care about each other, which is one of the main reasons Ashland is such a special place.
Director of Annual Giving
I did my undergrad at Valparaiso University and got my JD at Capital University. I wasn’t sure I wanted to practice law full time, and while looking for something else, I found that I loved fundraising. When I came to Ashland in 2015, my sister was a junior here, so it was neat to be near her. But, apart from her, I didn’t know many other people. Coming here showed me I was in desperate need of community.
Community quickly became the theme of my first few years here at Ashland. It started with my colleagues, who soon became friends, and from there I’ve been able to find a vibrant, welcoming community here. It’s been amazing to find inspiration in those people as I’ve grown as a leader over the last few years. I’ve found the support I’ve needed to step out of my comfort zone and take the lead on some incredible projects. Through this journey, we’ve been able to start tailoring our giving campaigns to make very specific differences in the lives of the students here. We’ve been able to give donors the opportunity to make visible, palpable changes. It’s exciting to see how people are responding to initiatives aimed at the causes that really resonate with their hearts, to pair their contributions directly with the needs that matter the most to them.