4/21/14 ASHLAND, Ohio – The Ashland Center for Nonviolence (ACN) is celebrating its first transition in leadership with an April 30 reception and book sale. The event will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Ashland University’s Myers Convocation Center and the public is invited.
The reception will honor John Stratton, who is retiring as executive director, the position he has held since the Center formally organized in 2007. The event also will welcome Craig Hovey, associate professor of religion at Ashland University, who has been selected as the new executive director.
The book sale will feature publications on a wide variety of topics. Books have been donated by members of ACN, AU faculty and staff, and members of the community. Proceeds will be used to help fund ACN programming for 2014-2015.
Stratton retired from the AU faculty as an associate professor of English in 2010. He was credited with having started the AU Writing Center, was senior member of the Freshman Composition Committee that instituted structure and improvements in the basic writing courses, and focused his own teaching on advanced writing courses. He was dean of the College of Arts and Humanities from 1990 to 1997 (also including the College of Sciences in 1996-97). He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
The idea of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence grew out of Stratton’s commitment to the belief that conflicts can and should be managed nonviolently and that nonviolent means of conflict resolution are the most likely to bring effective and lasting results.
“We owe so much to John's vision and persistence in making this organization what it is. I've become aware that if you want to work for peace, you have to struggle for it,” Hovey said.
Programming for ACN now includes speakers, films and discussions—all open to the public at no charge—that “challenge conventional and convenient thinking,” according to Stratton. ACN also sponsors community conflict resolution activities, a student-led anti-bullying drama troupe that performs in the community, and other student initiatives.
“I am most pleased that we have maintained a focus that involves both the community and the campus. We have had speakers and programs on national issues, and we have also provided programming on local and personal issues,” Stratton explained. “We have begun the process of developing conflict resolution on the campus and in the community through workshops and through TALK, the volunteer community mediation program.”
Hovey, who has been at AU since 2009, teaches religion courses that focus on Christian ethics, Christian theology and political theology. He is the author of many articles and books, including a book titled “Exploring Christian Ethics,” which is currently under contract to be published in 2014. He received his Ph.D. in Christian Theology / Theological Ethics from the University of Cambridge in the UK.
Stratton commented, “Craig will provide the kind of stability and discipline that will take ACN to a new level of engagement with peace and justice issues and will involve the community and the campus systematically. He reaches out to people in a natural and effective way that will help ACN involve individuals and organizations who want to actively work for peace and are willing to challenge the conventional and convenient understandings people have about war and the use of force.”
Hovey explained, “I think of this organization as a ‘big tent’ that draws in a lot of different kinds of people who may have very different reasons for being interested in nonviolence. I want to welcome them all.
“Many people don't really know what to do with ‘nonviolence.’ Violence is not only a daily reality for lots of folks, but we also celebrate and memorialize it as a culture. It can be very hard to imagine anything different. ACN is all about helping people imagine and live alternatives.”
ACN is a membership organization that anyone can join. An elected steering committee of 12 individuals representing the campus and the community works with the executive director and the assistant director to carry out the mission of the organization. Ginny Telego will continue as assistant director. Four or five student interns also are on staff each year.
The Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University is located on the AU campus. The Center seeks a world in which human conflict at all levels can be resolved without resorting to violence and in which social justice can be realized. For more information about ACN events, or to learn more about the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, call 419-289-5313 or visit the website at www.ashland.edu/acn. To be added to the ACN e-mail list, email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) 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. ###