Stories of Resolve

Stories of resolve

In the span of just a few weeks, everything seems to have changed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Everything, that is, except the drive of the Ohio State community to fulfill its academic mission. These stories of resolve show the unique resilience of Buckeyes in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Do you have an example of an Ohio State community member fulfilling the university's academic mission or simply brightening someone's day? Send your accolade to Maddie Thomas, OAA Communications, at

Dennis Learning Center helps students stay productive while studying at home 

As student employees, Academic Coaches at the Dennis Learning Center (DLC) experienced firsthand the challenges of continuing their academic work while sheltering in place. 

The team worked tirelessly throughout the spring semester to find new ways to support their fellow Ohio State students, from individualized coaching sessions on CarmenZoom, to creating resourceslikeTop 5 Tips, with evidence-based strategies to help students adjust quickly to their new learning environments.  

Undergraduate coach andrising third-year Taylor  Clewell used her love of StudyTube videos to create student tips for online learning. Although she moved home to Kansas City, Missouri for the spring semester, Clewell teamed up virtually with other DLC coaches across the country, including recent graduate  Hannah  Perruquet ‘20 in Chicago and rising third-year Tyler  Eatman in West Orange, New Jersey. Together, they created videos demonstrating learning strategies to help students succeed in their remote classes.  

To help students #studysmarter, undergraduate coach  Sura  Al  Dulaimialso a rising third-year, re-energized the DLC’s Twitter feed with additional learning and motivation resources. She took a personal approach, sharing how coaches at the DLC set up theirstudy spaces at home to help students meet their academic goals.  

Program Managerand PhD student Jackie von Spiegel also recognized the isolation felt by many graduate students and understood the challenges of staying productive despite major disruptions to research plans. She worked with graduate coaches Robin Sayers and Johana Chaparro Morenoboth doctoral students in educational psychology, to host  Graduate Student Communities on CarmenZoom. The communities bring graduate students together to share strategies and stay on track with their goals. 


College of Education and Human Ecology advisors process 2,100 student requests

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Ohio State students had the option to finish their Spring 2020 courses with Pass/No Pass grading scale if it fit their academic program. Undergraduate student advisors in the College of Education and Human Ecology received an avalanche of requests through the Office of the Registrar as a result. More than 2,100 requests piled up in Buckeye Box or came by phone to advisors and support staff in the college’s Office of Academic Affairs.

Keeping their calm, advisors systematically shoveled their way through requests, reviewing and processing all of them in just a couple of weeks. The support staff managed the many phone calls and scheduled appointments with students

The advising team created content for a website with Pass/No Pass information, including an FAQ, quickly posted by the college’s web content specialist. They also developed and facilitated two online information sessions using Zoom, with several staff present to answer students’ questions during the chat, and held one-on-one virtual meetings with students as requested. Every student making a request had the chance to learn more about the new grading policy and to ask questions. 

"Kudos to the Academic Affairs team for providing top-notch service to EHE students during this unprecedented time,” said Interim Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Paulette G. Curtis. “Director Casey Henceroth and our Advising team went above and beyond to give the support our students needed.” 


ACCESS graduate assistant helps parents with homeschooling

For more than 30 years, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) has provided academic and social support to low-income, single parents earning a degree at Ohio State through the ACCESS Collaborative Program.

With K-12 schools shuttered across Ohio for the remainder of the academic year, ACCESS graduate assistant Jillian Deas has been helping single parents with the additional responsibilities and stressors that come with newly homeschooling their kids. Deas, an Ohio-certified middle school teacher in math and science, has been teaching two virtual math classes a day to children whose parents are enrolled in the program. The math classes, 40-50 minutes in length, are designed for two age groups: kindergarten to first graders, and third and fourth graders. 

“Knowing they are with a licensed and experienced teacher is a real relief for our parents,” Traci Lewis, director of the ACCESS Collaborative Program told ODI. “It helps them not stress about helping their child adapt to this new way of learning.”


Kindness Callers reach 18,000 students

The Office of Student Life has called nearly 18,000 first-year or graduating students in recent days, part of a new campaign to check in on their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kindness Callers was made possible with the help of hundreds of staff and volunteers from the Offices of Student Life, Advancement, the Alumni Association and various colleges and units across Ohio State.

Although email and texting have been used to communicate with students throughout the spring semester, Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers wanted to forge even deeper relationships. Callers also used the opportunity to make students aware of university resources like counseling and financial aid.

"I’m often thinking about ways we can make the student experience better,” Shivers told Ohio State News. “We wanted to tell them, ‘We are still right here, ready to support you.’”


Dance studios go digital

In the Department of Dance, instructional technologist Chris Summers has helped faculty take their performing arts classes online. For many students, this has meant that their bedrooms, basements and living rooms are also their new studio spaces. Since Ohio State’s transition to remote learning, students in Professor Susan Van Pelt Petry’s contemporary dance class have been using Zoom to practice nearly a hundred different gestures, while Associate Professor Mitchell Rose used the semester to connect with students hundreds of miles away. His Senior Seminar students choreographed trios in collaboration with dance students at Connecticut College.

 “All of our professors and instructors are artists by nature, so they inherently know to be creative and how to solve problems,” Summers said. “There was a lot of camaraderie and conversations and really innovative ideas on how to move dance into an online setting, which was really inspiring, and it really set an example for a lot of other performing arts departments.”


Sociology task force distributes emergency aid

When Ohio State announced students had to move off-campus in March, Associate Professor Hollie Nyseth Brehm immediately thought of the many students who depend on campus for housing, a job or a nutritious meal. Would they have enough money to buy gas or a plane ticket home? What about students without access to transportation, a place to store their belongings or a home to go back to?

Brehm reached out to Ryan King, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, about starting a department-wide task force to help sociology and criminology undergrads in financial crisis. Assistant Professor Kara Young, undergraduate Jacob Caponi and doctoral student Alexandria Fraga came on board. To date, they’ve helped more than 75 students in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The task force secured a $5,000 grant through FAST Fund, an emergency student aid fund distributed through the non-profit Believe in Students. (FAST Fund stands for “faculty and students together.) Brehm crowdsourced more than $2,000 on Facebook to put toward the effort, and the department contributed an additional $2,000.

Brehm sent a Qualtrics survey to majors and minors that assessed their needs for food, housing and transportation. Young took the lead in distributing funds to students using Venmo, and the department is currently working on another round of assistance. Any leftover money from the campaign will be put toward a departmental fund dedicated to helping students in crisis.

To help alleviate the stress of moving off-campus, Brehm and her colleagues also coordinated a team of faculty, staff and graduate student volunteers using Airtable to facilitate rides to the airport or back home, temporary storage spaces for students’ belongings and short-term housing options. More than 30 people have signed up to volunteer.

“In moments of crisis, I think it’s important for people to think about how to help each other,” Brehm said. “It’s truly the only way we will get through the pandemic.”

Fisher’s teamwork helped students return to U.S.

When the United States announced restrictions on incoming flights from Europe to slow the COVID-19 outbreak, the Fisher College of Business immediately acted to help students and faculty return to Columbus. How staff members responded to the challenge could be a case study in crisis management and flexibility.

“When the unexpected happens, you know what resources you have at your disposal and feel a sense of calm about that,” said Keira Williams, a program manager for Fisher’s Office of Global Business. “The real challenge is communicating next steps to our students in a way that keeps them calm and confident in our plans.”


Preparing graduate teaching associates for remote learning in linguistics

Hope Dawson
, senior lecturer and graduate teaching coordinator in the Department of Linguistics, used Ohio State’s extended spring break as an opportunity to prepare the 17 graduate teaching associates in her department for virtual learning. She met individually with each GTA over Zoom to adjust the syllabi for their undergraduate linguistics courses and to discuss tactics for communicating effectively with their classes for the rest of the semester.

“I had not actually done any online teaching before, but I have worked with GTAs and lecturers in developing and implementing online classes over the last several years,” Dawson said. “I had virtually ‘sat in on’ quite a few online class sessions, both synchronous and prerecorded, though I had not led any myself.”

Continue reading Hope's story »

Photo of Kexin (Cathy) Qian

From classroom to quarantine: Remote learning in the age of COVID-19

With campus closed and much of the world sheltering in place because of the coronavirus outbreak, first-year business student Kexin (Cathy) Qian decided to leave Ohio State for her home in Guangzhou, China. Three weeks after boarding a plane at John Glenn International Airport, she finally made it. 

Like all Ohio State students, Qian had to keep up with her studies, regardless of her travels. Unlike most students, however, she had to do it in quarantine and in a time zone that put her at opposite ends of the day with her instructors in Columbus.

Continue reading Cathy's story »

Meeting the needs of students, any way necessary

Like course coordinators across the university, Diana Kline had to figure out the best way to support students as they transitioned to remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak. In this case, there were a lot of students to think about, many in their first year. In addition, she needed to consider the international students who were returning to their countries only to be stuck in quarantine.

Kline oversees and teaches CSE 2111, a pre-requisite for business students that covers the basics of Microsoft Excel and Access. The course, which falls under the Computer Science and Engineering umbrella, serves more than 1,100 students in nine sections on the Columbus campus this semester, and another 200 on the regional campuses.

“It’s been a lot of work, but we have a great team of lecturers,” Kline said.

Continue reading Diana's story »

Foresight, teamwork and long hours helped Public Health flip the switch

Apart from the hard work and long hours involved in moving 69 Public Health courses online, Margaret Murphy’s biggest challenge at the start of the coronavirus emergency was resetting her expectations. The urgency of the situation meant she had to focus on utility, not perfection.

“I had to adjust my brain and reframe the goal,” said Murphy, who has worked as an instructional designer at the College of Public Health for five years. “The need in front of me was to help our instructors teach from a distance in ways that, for some, were very different than what they were used to. I had to accept that this wasn’t about trying to achieve the highest quality online course ever offered.”

Read more about Public Health's virtual transition »

Ensuring online access for all, no matter the circumstance

Making sure Ohio State’s 68,000 students and 49,000 employees have the internet access they need has been “a Herculean task” for the university. This includes helping students and employees in rural areas, where internet access isn’t necessarily robust or in some cases even available, and supporting Extension offices in every county of the state. Find out how the university’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of Distance Education and eLearning have addressed a challenge they could never have predicted.


College of Arts and Sciences moves close to a thousand courses online 

Home to more than 2,000 faculty and staff and almost 18,000 undergraduates, the College Arts and Sciences is the largest college at Ohio State. When in-person instruction was suspended in early March, ASC faculty and staff didn’t have a minute to spare—they had to mobilize quickly to move nearly 1,000 courses to CarmenCanvas during the university’s extended spring break. 

To make the transition as seamless as possible, each of ASC’s 38 departments identified a faculty or staff member from within the department to serve as a point of contact about Carmen. ASC Tech also assigned an academic technology liaison from its team to each department, as well as a support liaison to handle any IT needs. Throughout the extended spring break, including on weekends, ASC Tech staffed a help desk online and by phone to ensure instructors’ needs could be met as they migrated their courses online. 

Such a vast undertaking wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of such dedicated faculty, staff and GTAs across the college, said Gretchen Ritter, executive dean and vice provost.  

“This enormous success is credit to the leadership of our academic departments and our Arts and Sciences Technology Services colleagues,” Ritter said. “Faculty, staff and graduate associates across the college worked tirelessly during spring break to ensure that we were prepared for the virtual resumption of classes so that our students will be equipped to finish the academic year successfully.”


A dissertation defense for the ages

It took a little bit of troubleshooting, but after nearly a decade of working toward his PhD, Brian Padgett, a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology, successfully defended his dissertation defense from his home in Hawaii. 

It marked the first time in his department that Zoom has been used to defend a dissertation since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Padgett currently works as a forensic anthropologist for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in Pearl Harbor, where he helps locate the remains of American soldiers who went missing in action. For his 500-page dissertation, “The Bioarchaeology of Violence During the Yayoi Period of Japan,” he studied violent conflict in prehistoric Japan using analyses of ancient Japanese skeletal remains.

“Our online doctoral dissertation defense was wonderfully smooth and engaging, fully allowing the flexibility for everyone to interact and discuss as though we were in the same room on campus,” said Clark Larsen, Padgett’s advisor and a Distinguished University Professor of anthropology. “Nothing can replace the face-to-face dissertation defense, but this was a very close second.”


The Lantern springs into breaking news mode

When Ohio State suspended face-to-face classes in early March, many of The Lantern’s staff members were traveling for spring break. Regardless, they sprang into breaking news mode, recognizing that a monumental milestone in university history was unfolding.

They’ve been working tirelessly ever since, covering major developments from student reactions to the first day of virtual classes to managing anxiety around the COVID-19 coronavirus. The start of the spring semester marked one of the few times in Ohio State history that the newspaper was published with the entire staff working remotely.   

Tools like Zoom are making the transition to remote digital publishing relatively seamless, said Spencer Hunt, lecturer in the School of Communication and faculty advisor for The Lantern. The newspaper’s editorial team can still conduct regular budget meetings to assign stories, and student reporters in Hunt’s COMM 2223 class, The Lantern Practicum, are submitting stories via email. The app GroupMe has been great for group text messages, while breaking news alerts have been communicated over Slack. 

“Students are learning how to be nimble and react, and how to be accurate, complete, and give readers what they need,” Hunt said. “I'm very proud of the students for the job they’ve been able to do remotely. They've been working super hard.”

Breaking news is still very much a priority for The Lantern, but Hunt said editors are starting to think more broadly about future coverage, including the longer-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak on students. With the newspaper planning to publish digitally for the rest of the semester, they’re also starting to reimagine special editions, such as the paper’s annual commencement and Best of Ohio coverage.

“I'm hopeful and optimistic that the flow of stories is going to continue, because even before the transition to virtual learning, students would email their stories in,” Hunt said. “I think it’s very possible that it's going to be easier to connect with sources. Campus is closed, but we're all at home. There's a lot more time, I think, for people to respond to the students and their questions.”

When ‘writing was on the wall,’ Social Work took action

When Dean Tom Gregoire asked the College of Social Work’s Education Technology Team to prepare to move all courses online, it was purely precautionary. This was in January, and although the country had yet to record any cases of COVID-19, the disease was taking over the news.

“It wasn’t here yet,” Gregoire said, “but the writing was on the wall.”

Instructional Design Director Byron Roush, Instructional Design Tech Kelley Cupp and Curriculum Assessment Coordinator DiAnna Palmer immediately began devising a plan, and by March 13 they had changed 140 face-to-face courses to online formats. In addition, the team trained 94 instructors in the technical and philosophical nuances of distance education and helped them get comfortable with Carmen Zoom, a tool they would need to more fully interact with students.

“Our goal was to let faculty know they were supported as they considered new approaches and strategies they had never tried,” Roush said.

At the same time, the EdTech team jumped in to support the graduate and undergraduate program offices, anticipating the crush of communication that was ahead. Once it became clear that the university would close its campuses, the program offices scheduled Zoom informational sessions for students and followed up on hundreds of emails asking, “What’s next?”

The team responsible for the Master of Social Work program hosted more than 400 students on a single Zoom session and continues to offer question-and-answer Zoom meetings on a regular basis. In addition, the team stays in touch with students in field placement internships through virtual “supervision” sessions. Academic Advisors Brenda Davidson, Brittany Ward and Elena Moore have been helping soothe the anxiety of current and newly admitted students, and have been reaching out to international students and others who may be particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Outreach Coordinator Bryanna Stigger, meanwhile, has been providing information for students on topics ranging from financial support to engaging children who are now being home-schooled.

In the Bachelor of Science in Social Work program, Director Jennie Babcock and Academic Advisors Andrea Severson and Stacy Song held multiple Zoom meetings with students during the extended spring break and they continue to provide support with weekly virtual lunch meetings. They were especially pleased to meet with the college’s scholarship committee via Zoom to award money to students — a much needed lift in an otherwise taxing time.


Scott Nelson: Helping instructors from his living room

Scott Nelson figured he’d be spending most of his time answering emails and phone calls about distance education, but he knew that wasn’t enough. As the instructional design video coordinator at the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, he knew that many Ohio State instructors were teaching online for the first time and that many others were just plain uncomfortable with it.

Then he had an “ah-ha” moment. He remembered a time early in his career when he didn’t know a darn thing about teaching online. “It’s easy for me to forget what I didn’t know when I started,” he said.

Read more about Scott Nelson's efforts »

Nursing’s Innovation Studio taps the power of “we”

For clinicians at the center of the corona outbreak, the tools they need aren’t always available. In some cases, they might not even exist.

“We can help people on the front line who are saying, ‘I wish someone would just build me this,’ ”said Tim Raderstorf, the College of Nursing’s chief innovation officer.

In response to the outbreak, the college’s Innovation Studio is hosting the Coronavirus Challenge to bring together students, faculty and staff to collect ideas that could help health-care workers deal with the crisis. Of course, in a time of social distancing, it’s all done on a virtual platform

Opened three years ago, the Innovation Studio provides funding, prototyping tools and mentoring.

Ideas can be submitted online. Submissions will be reviewed every Monday through the rest of Ohio State’s spring semester. To be eligible for seed funding, ideas must follow the Innovation Studio’s usual requirements: They must be created by a team of two or more Ohio State students, faculty or staff who represent different disciplines or professions.

Pharmacy team providing peace of mind for fourth-year students

For professional students nearing the end of their academic careers in the College of Pharmacy, uncertainty about graduation and residency requirements has created an additional level of worry. Thankfully, Julie Legg, PharmD, and Katie Marks, both members of the college’s Experiential Education team, have stepped up to provide clarity for fourth-year students concerned about completing clinical training—a requirement for graduation.