Ashland University Students Honor Their Mentors

Ashland University Students Honor Their Mentors
Photo of Mentor Award winners: front row, l-r, Dr. Theodore Avtgis, chair and professor of communication studies; Chuck Bryant, instructor of finance; Brenda DeHaan, professional instructor of nursing; and Dr. Michael Hudson, associate professor of geology; back row, l-r, Terri Jewett, professional instructor of early childhood education; Dr. Emily Hess, visiting instructor of history/political science; Dr. René Paddags, assistant professor of political science; and Dr. Joe Mackall, professor of English.

1/30/15 ASHLAND, Ohio - Eight Ashland University faculty members were honored during the University’s 29th annual Academic Mentor Awards recognition ceremony held Jan. 30. The program recognizes faculty or staff whose academic leadership with regard to students extends beyond the classroom. The mentors, each nominated by an Ashland student were presented an engraved silver plate at the event held in John C. Myers Convocation Center.

This year’s Mentor Award recipients are Dr. Theodore Avtgis, chair and professor of communication studies; Chuck Bryant, instructor of finance; Brenda DeHaan, professional instructor of nursing; Dr. Emily Hess, visiting instructor of history/political science; Dr. Michael Hudson, associate professor of geology; Terri Jewett, professional instructor of early childhood education; Dr. Joe Mackall, professor of English; and Dr. René Paddags, assistant professor of political science.

Friends, colleagues and family members attended the luncheon, joined by members of Ashland’s administration and Board of Trustees. Interim Provost Dr. Douglas Fiore welcomed the guests and presided over the event, while Interim President Dr. William Crothers commended the award recipients and the students who nominated them. The awards were presented by Thomas Whatman, chairman of the academic affairs committee of the Board of Trustees.

Students nominated faculty or staff members using the criteria of history of their relationship, how they benefited academically, how their personal development has been enhanced by their mentor and what impact the mentor has had on the student’s progress at the University. Selections were made by the Academic Affairs Committee of the Ashland University Board of Trustees from the information included in the nomination letters.

Students who submitted winning nominations included: Nell Cronin, a senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, majoring in public relations and strategic communication and health and risk communication, nominating Avtgis; Leslie Johnson, a senior from Thornville, Ohio, majoring in finance, nominating Bryant;  Victoria Gill, a senior from Mansfield, Ohio, majoring in nursing, nominating DeHaan; Mariah Halleck, a senior from Salem, Ohio, majoring in political science, nominating Hess; Mackenzie Taylor, a senior from Loudonville, Ohio, majoring in geology, nominating Hudson; Rachel Grindle, a senior from Centerburg, Ohio, majoring in early childhood education, nominating Jewett; Andrew Kistler, a senior from North Olmsted, Ohio, majoring in creative writing, nominating Mackall; and Hallie Carrino, a senior from West Islip, N.Y., majoring in political science, nominating Paddags.

Avtgis, who joined AU in 2011, is involved in research in organizational communication, medical communication, risk and crisis communication, and aggressive communication, and serves as a consultant in risk and medical communication. He received his Ph.D. from Kent State University in 1999 and has served on the faculty of St. John’s University, West Virginia University and University of Akron. His research with medical professionals and first responders earned him an appointment as adjunct professor in the West Virginia University School of Medicine. He has published over 55 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and presented over 115 conference papers.

Prior to joining AU in 2008, Bryant spent 15 years in the industry working and consulting with leading multinational corporations. His areas of expertise in the industry included corporate finance, strategic planning and corporate valuation. He received his MBA degree in finance and international business at AU and is working on a doctoral degree in international business at Cleveland State University. His areas of research and expertise include corporate finance, strategic planning, corporate valuation, global finance and international business.

DeHaan, who joined AU in 2012, is a member of the clinical faculty at the Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences located in Mansfield. DeHaan, RN, MSN, CPN, received a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Walden University and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ashland University.  Prior to joining AU, she served as a patient/staff educator for Fresenius Medical Care from 1989 to 2012 and was in the medical surgical unit at MedCentral Health System from 1987 to 1989.

Hess, who joined AU in 2007, teaches American history with fields of expertise in 19th and 20th century African-American history, specifically the Reconstruction era and the Civil Rights movement. She was selected as AU’s Outstanding Female Faculty Member of the Year for 2014 and received AU's Mentor Award in 2012. She received her B.A. in American history at Malone University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American history at Case Western Reserve University.

Hudson, who began teaching at Ashland University in 1982, has a Ph.D. from Miami University (Ohio), a Masters from Indiana University and Bachelors from St. Lawrence University (New York), all with majors in geology. He is the adviser to the Geology Club, the recipient of three previous Mentor Awards and director of the annual Mohican District Science Fair. He is currently active with his students in geochemical research on rocks from both northern New York and north central Ohio. 

Jewett, who began teaching as an adjunct professor in 2007 and joined the AU faculty full time in 2014, teaches a variety of literacy courses. Her background includes teaching in both public and private schools and serving as a K-12 curriculum director for the public schools. She also is an educational consultant and enjoys planning and implementing professional development and mentoring. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education from Ohio State University and Master of Education from AU.

Mackall, who joined AU in 1996, is a former journalist with a B.A. from Cleveland State University, M.A. from University of Central Oklahoma, MFA in fiction writing from Bowling Green State University and Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He serves as director of the creative writing program and instructor of nonfiction writing for AU’s MFA program. He is co-founder of “River Teeth:  A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative” and co-editor of the “River Teeth” Literary Nonfiction Book Prize Series in partnership with the University of Nebraska Press. He is a book author and a number of his articles have been published in newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Washington Post, Cleveland Magazine and Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Paddags, who joined AU in 2010, teaches courses in international relations, comparative politics and regional studies. Prior to joining AU, he taught courses in political science and philosophy at the University of Maryland and at Loyola University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Maryland, College Park; his M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Relations in International Relations; and an M.A. in political science from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.

In nominating the recipients of this year’s Mentor Awards, the students wrote one-page essays about their mentors. Passages from these essays were distributed at the luncheon.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###