Voinovich School and Honors Tutorial College Welcome First-Year Students

Madison Koenig
January 13, 2015

Ohio University has been a local leader in researching environmental issues, and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is coordinating with the Honors Tutorial College to offer undergraduate students a chance to be a part of that leadership. Through the Honors Tutorial College, the incoming class of environmental studies students will have the opportunity to take intensive, self-guided tutorials along with undergraduate- and graduate-level courses--often with professors from the Voinovich School, in every area of the environmental studies field.

“HTC environmental studies students are outstanding contributors in our classes, both undergraduate and graduate,” said Geoff Dabelko, director and professor of the masters of environmental studies program at the Voinovich School. “They are also outstanding environmental leaders across campus, serving in a range of curricular and co-curricular activities on campus and in the community.”

Brian Cleary attended Sycamore High School in a suburb of Cincinnati. In his sophomore year, he took an Advanced Placement course in environmental studies. It turned out to be his favorite class, and he says that the “environmental mentality” he learned has stayed with him since. He decided to attend the Honors Tutorial College because it offered him the opportunity for an individualized education. “The personalization of the Honors Tutorial College is awesome,” he said.

For Brian, one of the highlights of the Honors Tutorial College program is that he will have the opportunity to work in a lab as an undergraduate and do his own research. Ultimately, he would like to study marine biology and practice marine conservation, but he says that Environmental Studies will allow him to explore broad environmental issues.

“I’m hoping to get a better idea of what I want to do with my life,” he said.


Although she is originally from Greenville, Ohio, Stephanie Cech moved with her mother to Athens two years ago and graduated from Athens High School. Her interest in the environment began at a young age.

“As a toddler, I’d pick up worms off the driveway after it rained so my mom wouldn’t drive over them,” she said.

This interest has continued throughout her life, culminating in her desire to study the environment in college. However, she was frustrated with the way many schools structure their environmental studies programs.

“One of the things that bothered me was that at a lot of schools, the environmental studies program was either focused toward social sciences or focused toward natural sciences, and I wanted to be able to get some of both,” she said. “Because the HTC program was so flexible, I knew I could take whatever courses I need to take to get the foundational knowledge I want for the career that I want.” Although she is still exploring the many areas of environmental studies, Stephanie hopes that her future career will give the chance to do hands-on research in the field.


Hailing from just outside Cleveland, Abbey Rodjam’s interest in environmental issues peaked when she became a part of the Explorers Program at the NASA Glenn Research Center. She worked with a researcher who was studying different types of plants that could be used as a viable biofuel. Rodjam maintained a land plot with the different species at the Research Center, meeting with the researcher once a week to tend to the plants.

One of the things she values most about studying Environmental Studies in the Honors Tutorial College is the wide variety of topics within the field. The personalized program of HTC allows her to explore her many interests.

“I want to look at everything,” she said. “I liked the idea of a personalized program, and now that I’m in it, I definitely love it.”


Unlike most students who join the Honors Tutorial College, Joel Nadler came to Ohio University with first-hand experience of the Socratic method in the classroom. He attended the Linworth Alternative Program for high school, which is located in Worthington, a suburb of Columbus. The program allowed him more flexibility with his classes, culminating in a “Walkabout” for his senior year in which he worked for the Forest Service in northern California.

“I’ve always had an interest in hiking and climbing and trail running, so that was the logical next step for me,” he said.

After that experience, he decided that he wanted to further study how agencies in the public land system operate. One of the goals of this interest is to work toward “making human systems more coexistent with ecosystems,” a focus he says his advisor, Geoffrey Buckley, shares with his research on private land. Joel hopes to get the most out of his time at Ohio University, both inside and outside of the classroom.

“I want to be able to get a rigorous academic experience but then also enjoy myself and do stuff that I want to be doing, like hiking, and climbing, and exploring the area around me,” he said. “I have been doing both already. I’ve been getting my fill of work and then I’ve been able to go hiking.”


Geoff Buckley, professor in the Department of Geography and Director of Studies for the HTC Environmental Studies Program, said that he is already enjoying working with these students in tutorials. “Working with HTC Environmental Studies students in a tutorial setting is wonderful because we really get to know one another well,” he said. “We learn so much from each other it is amazing. Ideally, we are building relationships—both personally and intellectually—that will persist well beyond the four years students spend here at OHIO.”

To learn more about the Honors Tutorial College program, click here. To learn more about the Environmental Studies program, click here.