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Nicole Pennington, dean of Ohio University Southern, accepts a formal proclamation from Kristin Martin, finance director for the city of Ironton. The city’s mayor issued the proclamation in honor of “Dr. Nicole Pennington Day.”

Photographer: Benjamin Dean

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Costume contest winners enjoy a groovy time in the spotlight during the dean’s celebration.

Photographer: Benjamin Dean

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Charles Jarrett, associate professor of sociology at the Southern Campus and co-chair of the dean’s celebration planning committee, plays with the Woodstock Nation band.

Photographer: Benjamin Dean

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Southern Campus welcomes new dean with Woodstock celebration


The fall semester got off to a groovy start at Ohio University’s Southern Campus soon after classes began. For several months, a planning committee came together each week to finalize details for welcoming the new dean, Dr. Nicole Pennington.

For one evening, Shafer Courtyard of the Southern Campus came alive with students, staff and faculty who celebrated the new dean by throwing a “Woodstock Revisited” affair. The flags that typically bear the OHIO insignia above the esplanade of the courtyard were replaced with an assortment of tie-dye flags to create a fun and festive atmosphere.

It all began with a pizza party, and soon thereafter sounds and songs of peace, love and happiness filled the campus as the Woodstock Nation band pumped up the volume with classic tunes from the original iconic ’60s event that holds the record for the largest organized outdoor musical extravaganza in American history — Woodstock.

No matter where you looked, people were in full swing of things. From tie-dye shirts, bandanas and cherry-rimmed sunglasses to fringed vests, bell-bottom jeans and flowing sundresses, this was a celebration to remember.

“As soon as we knew the theme was Woodstock, the art students got into the spirit of things and were ready to give it their all,” said Tom Suter, senior lecturer of art. And, did they ever! Students and faculty from the Southern Campus art department used their collective energy and creativity to take charge of decorations for the dean’s celebration to get the campus excited about the event.

A costume contest brought out the best in the crowd, who registered their approval the old-fashioned way — by clapping. When all was said and done, the top award for “Out of Sight” went to faculty member Gary Tillis and his wife, Glenda; the second-place “Far Out” prize was awarded to Debbie Virgin. And the third-place “Groovy” award went to student Kenna Kelly.

Charles Jarrett, associate professor of sociology and co-chair of the dean’s celebration planning committee, is also a lead member in the Woodstock Nation band. “I have always found that music brings people together. It can break down barriers like nothing else. It was the case when I attended the original Woodstock event in 1969 and it still holds true today,” he said.

For Dr. Nicole Pennington, the occasion gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and have a great time. “Things like this give us a unique opportunity to see each other in a different light and interact with people we may not come in contact with every day. I am humbled by my Southern Campus family and what they did to make this day special for me and everyone else. What a great way to start the new school year,” she said.

Among the highlights of the evening was a presentation from the mayor’s office for the City of Ironton, which issued a formal proclamation in honor of “Dr. Nicole Pennington Day.” The official document was read aloud and included many accomplishments and achievements by the newly appointed dean.

“I love this campus. Not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the privilege and honor that has been bestowed upon me as dean of this campus. I have some pretty big shoes to fill, but I’m ready for the challenge,” she added.