Featured Stories


Gala celebrates OHIO’s faculty newsmakers


Members of the Ohio University community gathered in the Baker University Center Ballroom the evening of Oct. 18 for the second annual OHIO Faculty Newsmakers Gala, celebrating faculty who were featured in media reports during the 2015 calendar year.

The Faculty Newsmakers Gala debuted last fall as a means of honoring Ohio University faculty who elevate the University and raise its national and global profile through media coverage of their work and expertise and, in some cases, participation in OHIO’s Experts Directory. 

Hosted by University Communications and Marketing (UCM) in partnership with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, this year’s gala was held in celebration of 142 OHIO faculty newsmakers who made headlines in 2015.

Guests at OHIO’s Faculty Newsmakers Gala enjoy the reception – complete with hors d’oeuvres provided by Ohio University Catering and a performance by the Ohio University Jazz Ensemble – prior to the event’s awards program.

Guests at OHIO’s Faculty Newsmakers Gala enjoy the reception – complete with hors d’oeuvres provided by Ohio University Catering and a performance by the Ohio University Jazz Ensemble – prior to the event’s awards program.

Faculty newsmakers are employees who, regardless of their title or classification, teach at Ohio University and have been included in reports provided by Cision, a monitoring service used by UCM to track the University’s media placements. The newsmakers celebrated at this year’s event included tenured and non-tenured faculty, as well as administrators who serve as educators in OHIO’s classrooms. Representing nine colleges on the Athens Campus and four of OHIO’s regional campuses, this year’s 142 faculty newsmakers were featured in more than 2,600 media reports and approximately 1,340 news outlets during the 2015 calendar year. 

“Every mention of an Ohio University expert has a direct impact on enhancing the reputation of the University,” Renea Morris, OHIO’s chief marketing officer, said in welcoming the faculty newsmakers and distinguished guests to this year’s event. “Our celebration this evening is our way of saying thank you to you and to every person who plays a role in promoting the great work that happens here.”

Chief Marketing Officer Renea Morris kicks off the second annual OHIO Faculty Newsmakers Gala.

Chief Marketing Officer Renea Morris kicks off the second annual OHIO Faculty Newsmakers Gala.

Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis delivered his own praise to the newsmakers, saying, “Your research, your publications, your teaching, your very presence help to reaffirm and augment Ohio University’s reputation as a place where the future begins.”

“When the media reports on your contributions to society, it serves as a proud reminder of all the student minds you have shaped, the innovative ideas you have brought to fruition, and just how fortunate Ohio University is to have thinkers, inventors and explorers of your caliber,” President McDavis added. “Your work gives us a glimpse into what the future holds, what breakthroughs are possible, and what positive changes will be made in the world.”

As President McDavis prepares to step down from his position next June, he also took a moment to speak about the role OHIO’s faculty newsmakers will have in his future.

“I take immense pride in knowing that wherever I end up, I will continue to receive constant news of Ohio University’s successes because of the media reports of your impressive work,” he said.

Howard Dewald, associate provost for faculty and academic planning, had the honor of presenting special recognition awards to 20 OHIO faculty newsmakers – those who earned the most media placements in 2015 as well as those who were quoted in media reports related to the Associated Press’ “Top 10 Stories of 2015.”

Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Planning Howard Dewald prepares to present special recognition awards to 20 OHIO faculty newsmakers.

Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Planning Howard Dewald prepares to present special recognition awards to 20 OHIO faculty newsmakers.

Speaking on behalf of Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, Dewald noted that the Faculty Newsmakers Gala marks a time for the OHIO community to celebrate faculty who are promoting the University’s excellence by engaging with media throughout the country and around the world. 

“Every day, you serve our community as distinguished educators, scholars, mentors and researchers,” Dewald said in addressing the newsmakers. “Tonight, we honor you as ambassadors of Ohio University.” 

The 20 faculty newsmakers who received special recognition were presented awards designed by UCM. Dubbed the “Keystroke Catalyst Awards,” the awards are fashioned as a typewriter. 

“Just as Mozart captured artistic inspiration and communicated harmonies through the keys of a piano, journalists also communicate to the world through keys – drawing inspiration from research discoveries, academic achievements and renowned faculty expertise, such as from the OHIO newsmakers we have with us tonight,” Morris said in unveiling the Keystroke Catalyst Awards for the first time.

Pictured are the custom-made Keystroke Catalyst Awards presented to the 20 faculty newsmakers who received special recognition at the gala.

Pictured are the custom-made Keystroke Catalyst Awards presented to the 20 faculty newsmakers who received special recognition at the gala.

Morris noted that while the traditional typewriter has given way to today’s technology, the typewriter remains timeless in its symbolism.

“It’s an original. A classic, reminding us of how the wisdom and insight of a single person can be dispersed to enrich the lives and expand the horizons of others across the region or even around the world,” Morris said. “The Keystroke Catalyst Awards are given to thank our newsmakers for making a difference at OHIO – through research, through teaching and through stories that motivate a million keystrokes to demonstrate why OHIO deserves a place among the best universities in the nation.”

The following OHIO faculty newsmakers were presented Keystroke Catalyst Awards for having the highest number of media placements in 2015:

  • David Ridpath, College of Business, 1,203 media placements
  • delfin bautista*, College of Arts and Sciences, 382 media placements
  • Robert Boland, College of Business, 353 media placements
  • Michael Braasch, Russ College of Engineering and Technology, 145 media placements
  • Alan Silver, Patton College of Education, 104 media placements
  • Jeff DiGiovanni, College of Health Sciences and Professions, 96 media placements
  • Thomas Suddes, Scripps College of Communication, 90 media placements
  • Greg Kremer, Russ College of Engineering and Technology, 78 media placements
  • Michael Pfahl, College of Business, 68 media placements
  • Michelle Ferrier, Scripps College of Communication, 67 media placements
  • Lawrence Witmer, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, 61 media placements
President McDavis and Renea Morris congratulate David Ridpath who earned 1,203 media placements in 2015 – the most of any OHIO faculty newsmaker.

President McDavis and Renea Morris congratulate David Ridpath who earned 1,203 media placements in 2015 – the most of any OHIO faculty newsmaker. 

An associate professor and the Kahandas Nandola Professor of Sports Administration, Ridpath, in an interview following the event, said he was humbled and surprised by the award he received.

“You look around at some of the other faculty newsmakers and to be recognized as the top one at a great University – my alma mater, with the No. 1 sports administration program in the world – to be recognized in this way is just really humbling and gratifying,” he said.

An alumnus who attended graduate school at OHIO and served as an assistant wrestling coach, Ridpath noted that his work with the media began when he was a full-time faculty member at Mississippi State. 

“I started getting calls from journalists, and I was more surprised than anything,” he said. “I am all about the athlete and athletes’ rights, and I started speaking out and journalists would call me and it mushroomed from there.”

Ridpath noted that his interest in working with the media dates back to his days as an undergraduate at Colorado State.

“I actually started out as a broadcast journalism major,” he said. “So I’ve dabbled in the media. I was a sports writer for the school paper, worked at the campus TV station, the campus radio station, so I’ve had some experience.”

It was through that experience that Ridpath was exposed to the inner workings of the field of sports and a new passion and career path arose.

“But having that little exposure left me with great respect for the Fourth and Fifth Estates,” Ridpath said. “I know that not everything is perfect by any means, but I think there’s just a few things that separate us from being a dictatorship – voting, jury duty and a free press – and I am a full supporter of the free press.”

Ridpath added he continues to get his “journalism fix” not only through interviews with media outlets but also by serving as a columnist for Forbes SportsMoney and a guest columnist for the NCAA News. 

“I think that there’s a story to be told, and we need to talk about issues in athletics in America and certainly at the collegiate level,” he said.

The following OHIO faculty newsmakers were presented Keystroke Catalyst Awards for being quoted in media reports related to the Associated Press’ “Top 10 Stories of 2015”: 

  • Ben Bates, Scripps College of Communication, who was featured in news reports on the U.S. election campaign
  • William Benoit, Scripps College of Communication, who was featured in news reports on the U.S. election campaign
  • Jennifer Fredette, College of Arts and Sciences, who was featured in news reports on the terrorist attacks in Paris
  • Katherine Jellison, College of Arts and Sciences, who was featured in news reports on the U.S. election campaign
  • Brandon Kendhammer, College of Arts and Sciences, who was featured in news reports on the Islamic State
  • Jerry Miller, Scripps College of Communication, who was featured in news reports on the U.S. election campaign
  • Mark Nevin, Ohio University Lancaster, who was featured in news reports on the U.S. election campaign
  • Jim Taylor, Ohio University Zanesville, who was featured in news reports on mass shootings in the United States
  • Amy White, Ohio University Zanesville, who was featured in news reports on same-sex marriage
President McDavis and Renea Morris pose for a photo with Jim Taylor who received special recognition for being quoted in media reports about mass shootings in the United States – one of the Associated Press’ “Top 10 Stories of 2015.”

President McDavis and Renea Morris pose for a photo with Jim Taylor who received special recognition for being quoted in media reports about mass shootings in the United States – one of the Associated Press’ “Top 10 Stories of 2015.”

“I’m grateful to be recognized for my research,” said Taylor, an associate professor of sociology, criminology and criminal justice at the Zanesville Campus, “and honored because I’m an OHIO alum.”

In 2015, media outlets at home and abroad turned to Taylor in response to mass shootings for his expertise on the U.S. gun culture.

“I’m often contacted about my research and things I’ve published,” he said. “My research topics are relevant to what’s going on in the world today.”

The Faculty Newsmakers Gala ended with a champagne toast in honor of all of OHIO’s faculty newsmakers.

The 2016 Keystroke Catalyst Award winners join President McDavis and Renea Morris in toasting all of OHIO’s faculty newsmakers.

The 2016 Keystroke Catalyst Award winners join President McDavis and Renea Morris in toasting all of OHIO’s faculty newsmakers.

“Your efforts have helped to underscore to the media locally, regionally and abroad what each of us already knows – that Ohio University is the place where academic excellence and innovation is happening every day to the benefit of our faculty, our students, our region and our nation,” Morris said in ending the evening.


Editor’s Note: delfin prefers the lowercase form of their name and gender neutral pronouns.

Video, photos from gala available on Faculty Newsmakers website

Take in the sights and sounds from this year’s gala on the Faculty Newsmakers website

The website features video coverage from the Oct. 18 event, a link to a photo gallery of the event with photos available for download and purchase, and a full list of this year’s OHIO newsmakers.