OWU face-to-face classes cancelled for remainder of the semester

On March 13, 2020, President Rock Jones sent out an updated email about remote learning for the rest of the semester:

Dear OWU Community,

Today, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, announced that Ohio’s outbreak of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is not expected to peak until between late April and mid-May.

To the extent possible, we had hoped to preserve the residential campus and in-person class experience for our students, and so we were making decisions with that goal in mind. Now, however, the course that we must follow for the health and safety of the Bishop family is clear: Effective immediately, we are cancelling on-campus classes for the rest of the semester.

As a result, spring break will be extended through next week to enable our faculty to shift their work from creating a temporary remote-learning experience to planning for remote teaching and learning to continue throughout the semester. Classes will resume March 23.

Students who have petitioned and been approved to remain on campus for the next three weeks now will be permitted to remain through the semester should they wish to do so. Students who still need to petition must apply before 8 a.m. March 16, using our Request Approval for Remote Instruction Housing form.

Students who will be returning home are asked to move out next week between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. if possible. Only students who have petitioned and been approved to remain on campus will be able to stay overnight beyond 5 p.m. March 16. For students unable to move out next week, the following dates also will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: April 4-5, April 18-19, and May 8-9. More details will be available on our Move Out Information page.

We have not yet made a decision about graduation and commencement weekend activities.

We will be making a partial room and board refund and will provide more information over the coming weeks.

We will provide additional information via email to those who are completing student-teaching experiences and who may need to return to the K-12 classroom if those schools reopen after April 3. We also will provide additional information about upcoming Travel-Learning Courses and Theory-to-Practice Grant experiences.

In addition, we will provide more information next week to our staff as we work through the implications of canceling on-campus classes. This will include opportunities for staff whose positions allow to work remotely through April 3, currently the period for the closure of Ohio’s K-12 schools. We will reassess as the situation evolves.

With the cancellation of on-campus classes, our Early Childhood Center also will close for the semester. The New York Arts Program already has announced its closure for the semester effective March 20.

To support public health and safety, we also are suspending on-campus visits from prospective students and families until April 6, which includes canceling the April 4 Slice event. Planned Slice events for April 20 and April 25 remain tentatively scheduled. During this time, prospective students are urged to take a virtual tour of our campus and contact Admission representatives for more information.

Finally, I want to take a moment to simply ask everyone, Are you OK? It has been a difficult week to be sure, and the next few weeks promise new challenges as we deal with the COVID-19 impact not only as a university, but also as a state, nation, and world.

As we navigate these issues, I want to take a moment to make sure we’re taking time to support each other – to ensure everyone is OK as we transition to remote learning and as we separate our on-campus family for the semester to help keep everyone safe.

Fortunately, we are able to FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangout, GroupMe, Tweet, Zoom, Snap, and even make an old-fashioned telephone call to check in on those we care about.

The COVID-19 situation is unique in our lifetime and will continue to require us to be flexible, patient, and understanding. We all had hoped for a quick resolution and a return to normalcy, but that is not to be. Thank you for your support and creative problem-solving in a difficult time.

Thank you, as well, for your questions and comments, as they help us to think about issues from all perspectives as we continue our work to educate the next generation of moral leaders.

Wherever you are, know that I am thinking of you and praying that you are, and remain, OK until our paths cross again.

OWU extends remote teaching, requires students to petition to remain on campus

Transcript staff

Based on continuing changes in the spread and impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Ohio Wesleyan is implementing the following policies effective immediately. These policies override all previously announced COVID-19 protocols. 

  • From March 18 through April 5, all classes will be taught utilizing remote teaching and learning. (This time period will be continuously reassessed during the next three weeks and revised, if needed, with as much notice as possible.)
  • Unless you petition for and receive permission to remain on campus, all students must return or remain at home after spring breakuntil in-person classes resume. If you want to petition to remain on campus, you must complete this revised Request Approval for Remote Instruction Housing form by 8 a.m. Monday, March 16, based on the criteria below. (We apologize for the inconvenience, but even if you completed the previous housing registration form, you must complete this new form to petition to remain on campus.) We will provide a response to each petition as quickly as possible.
  • To be eligible to remain on campus, students must meet one of the following criteria:

o   You are an international student and don’t have another option for housing.

o   You currently are without a safe home environment.

o   You currently are without a permanent home.

o   You have exceptional circumstances.

  • All student-athletes shouldreturn or remain at home after spring break until in-person classes resume – unless you petition to remain on campus for one of the four reasons above and your petition is approved. As of March 15, all spring sports are suspended at least until on-campus classes resume.
  • Students will have until 5 p.m. Monday, March 16, to leave their residence hall room.We will allow access to residence hall rooms until noon on Wednesday, March 18, in order to retrieve items, but no unapproved students may stay overnight on campus after 5 p.m. on Monday, March 16. All requests for approval to remain after this time will be processed as quickly as possible. If you will not be able to move before the deadline, please contact the Residential Life Office at reslife@owu.edu or (740) 368-3175. 

 In addition, our New York Arts Program is suspending all classes effective March 20, and we will be closing our Early Childhood Center at day’s end March 13. 

For OWU staff, the University plans to allow you to work at home as much as possible through April 5, which coincides with Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement today that K-12 secondary schools will be on extended spring break through April 3. Please consult with your supervisor to ensure that essential duties are covered on campus and while working remotely.

Staff members who have a home computer or laptop should ensure it is configured to access your OWU files remotely. Please complete this process before March 16. To assist you, please view these Resources for Working Remotely/Off Campus and contact the Information Services Help Desk as needed. 

Again, I would like to thank everyone for your patience, assistance, flexibility, and care for one another throughout this unique situation. Our primary concern is the health and well-being of all people related to OWU and, by extension, of the larger communities in which we each make our homes. Your patience, understanding, support and efforts to find creative solutions in this challenging time are greatly appreciated. 

We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available. We also encourage you to visit our COVID-19 webpage for more information and resources.

OWU suspends class meetings, switches to remote teaching

Azmeh Talha


Hailey de la Vara and Caitlin Jefferson

Transcript correspondents




Just three days after Ohio Wesleyan University’s 178th birthday, the campus suspended all in- person classes in response to the continued spread of COVID-19, which was officially named a pandemic by the World Health Organization Wednesday.

OWU President Rock Jones announced the two-week class suspension in a campus-wide email Tuesday, just after 9 p.m.  It will be the longest closure since the 1913 flood, which shut down OWU for at least a week, said Eugene Rutigliano, the digital initiatives librarian and curator of the OWU Historical Collection.

The decision came in the wake of recommendations from the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who asked all Ohio colleges to suspend face-to-face classes.

Classes will continue at OWU by digitally remote teaching methods at the end of an extended spring break, beginning March 18 through Sunday, March 29, Jones said in the email. The university also closed the Simpson Querrey Fitness Center, Morrill Family Stength & Conditioning Room and Meek Aquatics and Recreation Center.

All events have been canceled, except athletic events, through March 29. Spectators will be permitted at outdoor competitions but barred from indoor athletic events.  OWU offices will remain open for business.

Dale Brugh, OWU’s associate provost, said the unprecedented closure will create challenges for both faculty and students.

“I suspect that most faculty do not like the idea of remote classes and prefer face-to-face classes, but they are rising to the challenge,” Brugh said. Earlier in the day, Brugh sent faculty an email urging them to meet this difficult test head on.

“There are many things for all of us to learn. Please give yourself and others permission to be novices,” the email said. “We all need to start from where we are, learn something new, and move forward. Our students are depending on us to help them through this time.”

The university’s senior leadership is assessing the situation to ensure that remote teaching will work in a manner that benefits the college community, Brugh said. 

The university has established a COVID-19 information webpage and in the coming days will announce an FAQ page to answer questions students may have.  Meanwhile, OWU sent out a survey to gauge the technological capability of faculty, even as the Information Services office prepared to offer faculty technology workshops on Monday and Tuesday.

Having easy access to 21st century technology should keep teaching and learning moving forward, said Lee Fratantuono, an OWU classics professor.

“While nothing can replace in-person classroom experiences, thanks to the reality and wonder of contemporary technology, remote instruction is both possible and practical in challenging circumstances like those that confront us in March,” he said.

Nonetheless, uncertainty exists for some faculty and students.

Sean Kay, a professor of politics and government, called the class suspension a wise move and while he does not anticipate issues, others may have some difficulties.

“I am familiar with platforms like Blackboard, which work well for lecturing,” Kay said. “I worry about my science friends who have labs and so on.”

Tom Wolber, a professor of foreign languages, said the current situation is headed into unfamiliar terrain.

“I have no idea of what online means,” Wolber said. “Do we teach students individually or collectively? And how will students be tested? None of this has been determined. This is uncharted territory.”

Some students like senior Sophia Ahmed, from Pakistan, also worry about where things are headed. She said she has only heard from one professor who encouraged her to stay positive.

“I think e-learning might be a challenge, but hopefully it won’t have an impact on my studies,” Ahmed said. “It might affect studies to a certain extent since certain classes are easier to take in person rather than online.”

Meanwhile, students, faculty and staff who traveled over spring break were asked to complete a travel registry form, and anyone scheduled to participate in future OWU-sponsored travel must seek approval.

Some students returning from break are still trying to work out whether to remain on campus or return home. President Jones’ email Tuesday “strongly encouraged” students to remain at home or return home after break, but also said if they stayed they would have to register for housing.

Jones, on Wednesday, said while he does not know how many students will remain on campus, he suspects many, if not all, international students will.

It’s a dilemma for some, even including those from the area, like junior Jessica Blankenship.

“I’m feeling a bit anxious about this whole situation. I’m not sure if I’m going to stay home or go back to campus because most of my school books are back in my dorm,” she said. “I’m really not sure how this will affect my studies since we only have less than two months left for the semester.”

Sophomore Jillian O’Hara said she is worried about her classes.

“I think it will impact some of my studies because a lot of my classes are discussion based,” she said. “A few of my professors have reached out saying that they will keep us updated . . . but we will have to figure out how to get our books.”

Sophomore Mackenzie O’Brien said she feels anxious because so much panic is linked to the virus, so she will remain at home.

“I am staying at home but only because they are strongly urging us not to come back to campus … and I do live close,” O’Brien said. “I am nervous about how my classes will adjust.”

Some, like OWU senior Jack Cherry, think the changeup in teaching methods will have little impact.

“The break doesn’t really affect me whatsoever,” he said. “I’m still going to focus on academics. The only thing that changes is the fact that I won’t attend class with people.”

Look around, human trafficking impacts every region

By Katie Cantrell

Transcript Correspondent


Human trafficking is not a distant problem, it’s happening right here in the heart of one of the most affluent regions in Ohio.

That blunt message was delivered by Carol O’Brien, an Ohio deputy attorney general for law enforcement, and Maj. Christy Utley, of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, in the latest Great Decisions lecture at William Street United Methodist Church on Friday. The theme: Labor Trafficking: Global Problem/Local Impact.

 O’Brien opened up the lecture for 68 attendees, focusing on how many people are in denial about this issue, especially in this region.

“It happens here. It happened here in Worthington, it happened in Powell. Powell, Ohio, you know the fastest growing bedroom community in the country,” O’Brien said. “One of the highest per capita income and wealth areas in the country and we had human trafficking.”

O’Brien posed a question to the audience about where they think then went on to talk about where most of the labor trafficking occurs in the U.S. Some , audience members guessed either online, others  or in agriculture. While that is true in some cases, O’Brien pointed to another well-visited spot.

“How many of you get your nails done?” she askedO’Brien posed to the audience. 

Nail salons it turns out are one of the premiere premiere spots for methods of labor trafficking, she said.

But online, many of the so-called  in the United States. There are quite a few human trafficking schemes floating around online, but it turns out that they are not accurate, including one scenario where someone finds their .car’s  O’Brien mentions one of these schemes during her lecture. 

“How many of you have heard or seen online the ‘your windshield wipers tied are tied together with a zip tie and then snatch a person when they emerge from the car, she said.

“if you get out to your car and you go to take it off they’re gonna swoop in and steal you’? That’s a lie,” O’Brien said. “ that’s never really no one I have ever talked to has ever heard of that happening. When you hear stories like that know that most of them are not true.  Aa majority of girls and boys who are lured into human trafficking are lured, they’re not forced into human trafficking.” said O’Brien. 

During the lecture O’Brien and Utley talked about two separate cases involving human or labor trafficking they each dealt with during their careers. O’Brien said she dealt with a human trafficking case when during her time as ashe was a prosecutor in Delaware several years ago related to that had a massage parlor in Powell. An , Ohio at the center of the case. A letter was anonymous letter ly given to the police said stating that the Chinese girls at the massage parlor never left the premises, had food is always brought to in for them and were forced to provide “m, the men that frequent there often talk about things like ‘happy endings” ’ to the men who frequented the parlor. 

The tip was proven correct and that the police should look into the massage parlor. With police surveillance that included careful surveillance of the massage parlor, and even dumpster diving of the parlor’s garbage., it was determined that the anonymous tip was correct, the women never left and this was indeed a case of human trafficking. 

Major Christy Utley focused on a complicated and extensive case of a spoke mainly about the labor trafficking ring case at a Marion-area egg farm that began in 2014. The case didn’t end she was involved in during her half of the lecture. She started off by saying cases like this are complicated and extensive, the investigation for her case started in 2014 and was not completed until 2016.  In smaller rural communities, it is Part of the reason why cases in smaller areas like this are complicated is because it is difficult to establish surveillance in an area where everybody knows everybody.  

“NAnytime that I’ve ever done surveillance at Indian Trails trailer park as soon as I pull in, no matter what car I’m in, no matter if I have a hat on, face mask whatever, they know that we’re in the trailer park and by the time you make it to the back everybody knows there’s a car there that’s not supposed to be there,” said Major Utley said.

In the Marion case, when the Guatemalan Whenever the men, women and Guatemalan children were not working at the egg farms, they were kept at the trailer park. They were picked up by a van early in the morning and driven t, get loaded up into a van and drive to the egg farm where they , they would worked all day before they were loaded back up and taken at the egg farm and after they were finished they would load up back into the van and go back to the trailer park. 

Investigators eventually discovered When they finally had enough grounds for a search warrant and were able to make entry into the trailers they were a mess. The trailers had anywhere from seven 7 to 15 people living in per trailer, each overrun with roaches and with there was no running water and there was roaches everywhere. 

Both Major Utley’s and O’Brien’s cases had a bit of a language barrier since the victims were either from Guatemala or China. A majority of the victims in O’Brien’s case were in the United States legally and were able to stay in the country after being freed. Meanwhile, a majority of the victims of labor trafficking in Major Utley’s case were not in the U.S. legally and were later deported, however a few were able to remain in the states. 

Neither of O’Brien or Utley’s these cases would have been investigated if it were not for public the tips that authorities received from the public. 

“That’s a big thing in our society today, is people don’t tell. If you see something, say something,” Utley said. “. You can say something without giving your name, if you give an anonymous tip you truly are anonymous.” said Major Utley.

Many of those in attendance at the lecture now have increased their knowledge about the subject of human trafficking. Attendee 

One of the attendants Norman Snook, a resident of Delaware, said the lecture was enlightening and enjoyed this week’s Great Decisions lecture. 

“TIt was very informative the investigations that they were reporting gave some grounding to the theory in a sense, but I thought the information, even on the screens, was very helpful in terms of the laws and how they expressed what they said really,” said Snook said. 

Julie Richey recently moved , to Delaware and said she ’s newest inhabitants, learned a lot about her new home quite a few things about the area in and around Delaware during the lecture.

“I like how this whole Great Decisions discussion series pulls locals into localizing the topic that is often talked about internationally, in the book that goes with this series” said Richey said.

Barbara Adams, also  citizen of Delaware, said she found the lecture to be a welcome source of information for a very important subject. 

“It was great,” she said. “ This is something that we need to really talk about in a forum or otherwise just talking about it is good. I think we all need to know more about the subject and it was good that it was presented today.”

Nine faculty retire from OWU

Ted Cohen, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN), retired at the May commencement ceremony.

Cohen, who was hired in 1984, estimated he had taught roughly 6,000 to 7,000 students during his time at OWU.

“I wish I had an accurate count,” Cohen said.

Senior Alyssa Acevedo described him as a passionate professor, which made is easy for her to learn from him.

“He also helped me with one of my internships and he was my apprentice teacher who also advised me throughout that time and really helped me find the career that I really want to go into,” Acevedo said.

Not only did Cohen teach at the institution, but his wife and two children are also familiar with the campus.

Cohen’s son, Dante Santino (’09) and daughter Allison Cohen (’10) both majored in sociology and anthropology at the university. Allison Cohen took three classes with him, Cohen said.

Cohen’s late wife, Susan, worked as an archivist and curator of the United Methodist
collection for roughly 20 years, he said.

Cohen described the SOAN department as a “very stable family,” because he had been working with people in the department ever since he started.

Cohen will miss his colleagues and his students after retirement.

Alper Yalçinkaya, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, worked with Cohen since his arrival to the institution in 2010. Cohen was the first person Yalçinkaya met at OWU.

“He made it extremely easy for me to feel happy at this institution,” Yalçinkaya said.

“It’s been a wonderfully fulfilling place to be,” Cohen said. “And very supportive place
to be.”

After retirement, Cohen plans to move to New Jersey. He will also teach part-time at The College of New Jersey and to teach online summer school course for OWU. He also plans on working on a new edition of his textbook, The Marriage and Family Experience: Intimate Relationships in a Changing Society.

Also, retiring at the 2019 commencement were: Mary T. Howard, a 35-year professor of Sociology-Anthropology; Gerald Goldstein, a 36-year professor of botany and microbiology; Alan Zaring, a 29-year professor of computer science; John Gatz, a 44-year professor of zoology; Lynette Carpenter, a 30-year professor of English and film studies: Amy McClure, a 40-year professor of education; Paul Kostyu, a 20-year associate professor of journalism; and instructor Tom Burns, a 21-year instructor of English.