Some concerns but Class of 2024 signing up

Katie Cantrell and Peter Lujan
Transcript correspondents

While the coronavirus continues to grind out grim news daily, bright spots do exist, including the efforts and results in recruiting the Class of 2024 to Ohio Wesleyan.

Financial deposits for fall semester continue to come in at an equal or better pace than previous years and new strategies to reach prospective students are working, OWU President Rock Jones announced in a faculty-wide email today.

“Even in this uncertain time, fall deposits are running ahead of or even with the previous four years, and 9% ahead of last year,” Jones wrote. “In addition, we are seeing success with new initiatives to create connections with prospective students.”

Last fall, OWU welcomed 420 new students. This year, many of the projected 450 high school seniors planning on visiting campus are now:

  • Taking virtual tours through various platforms
  • Attending online Bishop+ information sessionsand
  • Trading instant messages with students, faculty, and staff

Jones said this week no one knows, including him, if students will actually return to campus in the fall. In an April 6 administrative report, he said national surveys show many students plan on taking a gap year rather than going away to school and international students may find it impossible to return due to travel restrictions.

“Students from the coasts may choose to remain closer to home, at least until a vaccine is developed,” Jones wrote. “There’s a lot of fear and apprehension out there.”

With millions in the country unemployed, families facing unprecedented financial burdens may not be able to afford college immediately.  With OWU facing a potential deficit that could balloon to $11 million to $12 million and a loss of up to $60 million in other income, losing students is far from good news.

Prior to the spread of the virus, OWU was aiming to enroll 450 new students, even though the budget was designed to expect 415, Jones said.

“We are reviewing financial models and adjustments that may be required if enrollment declines, as well as the impact of our decision to cancel next year’s tuition increase,” Jones said. “The entire senior leadership team is focused on this work, as is the entire admission and financial aid staff. We now are looking at different budget models reflecting various enrollments for the fall.”

The overall admissions process has been altered only slightly due to the impact of the virus, Laurie Patton, director of Admission, and Stefanie Niles, vice president of Enrollment and Communications, said in a co-signed email.

“But luckily we live in an age where prospective students can still experience Ohio Wesleyan remotely.” – Emma Neeper ’20

But virtual tours were developed earlier this year and launched several months before the pandemic struck.

“Students and families can take a virtual campus tour and design a customized Viewbook based on their own specific interests,” they wrote.

In addition, general information sessions are offered Monday through Saturday, along with the option to schedule individualized chats with an admissions counselor by phone, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or other platforms.

Prospective students and their families can also access nine podcasts on various topics.  And the school recently launched Bishop+, which is a series of topic-based information sessions hosted two to three times a week.

In further effort to gain the attention of potential students, OWU has stepped up activity on social media channels, like Instagram.

For a more unique and personalized touch, the school enlisted alumni and current students to write notes, and there’s the “Ask a Bishop” feature on the OWU website that allows students, faculty, staff and prospective students to chat online.

Meanwhile, tour guides like senior Emma Neeper, are still primed to help out and jump into interacting with potential students as much as possible.

“I’m still available to answer prospective students’ questions and to share my experience as a student here,” Neeper said. “I’ve also been sending out postcards to admitted students to congratulate them on their acceptance.”

It’s a new normal for Neeper who is still working for the Office of Admission.

“It’s definitely different than what I’m used to,” Neeper said. “But luckily we live in an age where prospective students can still experience Ohio Wesleyan remotely.”

First OWU sub-community house introduced on campus

By Liz Hardaway, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Residential Life offers alternatives for groups of  students who share similar interests and want to live together. There are theme houses, SLUs, fraternities and now, introducing, a sub-community.

The first of its kind, the proposed Mental Health Small Living Unit (SLU) seeks to provide students with a comfortable space to discuss mental health related topics.

“In college, there’s your three healths …physical health, spiritual health [and] mental health, [which] was the one area where something could be improved,” said freshman Dylan Hays. “Our retention rate was not good, and I think this is a reflection of that. So why not do something to try to improve that?”

Since all the current SLU houses are occupied, the Mental Health SLU was not approved to move into a house, said Wendy Piper, the assistant dean of student affairs and director of residential life.

Although there are counseling services for students to visit if they are having concerns about their mental health, the sub-community is striving to create a more accepting environment to have these conversations.

“We wanted to be a more casual way to discuss mental health,” said freshman Katy Tuggle, president of Active Minds and one of the creators of the sub-community. “For a lot of people, there’s a stigma for going to counseling services. You have to have a really, full, legitimate problem, so this is the middle ground between it.”

Unlike legitimate SLUs, the sub-community will not have a moderator nor a dedicated budget for planning activities, said Piper.

The sub-community plans to re-apply again next year to get into a house.

In the meantime, some members might be living near each other in the same residence hall. They also have the option to apply for funding through the Wesleyan Student Council on Affairs (WCSA) to plan future events.

“Instead of everything being theoretical, we will have actual experience to back [our plans] up,” said Tuggle.

Olmstead goes from print to screen

Photo courtesy of
   Photo courtesy of

Ross Hickenbottom, Sports Editor

Ohio Wesleyan’s Robert Olmstead has teamed up with two Hollywood in-laws, Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck to create a film based on his novel “Far Bright Star.”

Olmstead is an “established writer of fiction,” with four novels under his belt, short stories as well as numerous articles published in magazines and journals.

He is a New Hampshire native, who grew up on a farm and enjoyed outdoor activities like fishing. He graduated with two degrees from Syracuse University.

Before becoming the director of Ohio Wesleyan’s creative writing program, he served as a senior writer at Dickinson College in PA as well as Boise State University.

“Far Bright Star” is the first part of a series, consisting of three novels.

“There are three books, and in my mind they are a trilogy. ‘Coal Black Horse,’ ‘Far Bright Star’ and ‘The Coldest Night’ are loosely connected,” Olmstead said.

“They are about these three generations of a family and has to do with the legacy and inheritance of war.  It interests me how in some families, war passes down through them as a trade or occupation if you will,” he continued.

Professor Olmstead received his inspiration for the series from a trip he took back in 1997.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

“It started back in probably ’97. I was down in Georgia hunting wild boar, and there were all of these guys I was hanging out with, and this goes back to the early 90s and these fathers, sons and grandsons were just waiting around for the next war, you know? It really got me thinking about this legacy of violence, inheritance of war,” he explained.

Olmstead feels as if it’s embedded into the American psychology that a son follows a father in a path of occupation, but making war is a “whole different story.”

The problem is, though, according to him, that in America, we don’t see ourselves as a nation of warriors, so it makes for a much more riveting and interesting topic.

Before the inspiration developed, moving Olmstead to write this certain series of novels, or anything else he has constructed, he was a kid who loved to read.

“At a very young age, novels, short stories, fiction, were very, very important to me,” he said.

“I just remember at a young age, just thinking; ‘wouldn’t it be great to do for some people, what some of these people have done for me?’ It’s like giving back, returning the favor,” Olmstead reminisced.

The story involves the visit of an aging cavalryman who leads a group of young men on a hunt for Pancho Villa. It takes place in 1916 and captured the attention of director Casey Affleck.

Affleck, who directed “I’m Still Here” and “The Book of Charles,” and acted in “Manchester by the Sea,” “Interstellar” and “Gone Baby Gone,” is the younger brother of Ben Affleck.  He described it as a “beautifully written story on pain and loss in the drive and resilience one finds within themselves to continue through the day.”

Affleck, in the midst of starting a new production company, approached Olmstead in 2014 and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Contracts were signed in November 2014, the screenwriter finished his sample and just this past October, Olmstead received the screenplay.  

“It blew me away,” he said. “It was extremely powerful.”

It was announced that Joaquin Phoenix, known for his roles in “Gladiator” and “Walk the Line,” would play the lead role in November 2015.

Olmstead admitted that it was a strange coincidence, having Joaquin Phoenix star in his production because he starred in one of Olmstead’s colleague’s films, “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Olmstead looks forward to the release of “Far Bright Star,” and the positive impact the publicity will have on OWU, which has already started.

Chris Mondon, OWU graduate, is familiar with Olmstead’s work, and “can’t wait for the movie to be released.”

“I love Joaquin Phoenix and this whole storyline,” he said.

The production process is still in action, and release information will be communicated within the year.

Thursday shooting injures one, suspect in custody

Police occupy the scene of Thursday night's shooting outside Woodward Elementary School at 200 S. Washington St. Delaware Police Department (DPD) continues to investigate the incident.

By Spenser Hickey

Assistant Copy Editor

and Noah Manskar


A man was shot Thursday night on the Woodward Elementary School playground at 200 S. Washington St., three blocks from the Ohio Wesleyan campus.

Delaware Police Department (DPD) officers responded to a 911 call at 8:15 p.m. reporting a fight outside the school, according to DPD Captain Adam  Moore. When they arrived, they were informed the fight had resulted in a shooting.

Joshua Mosley, Jr. of Columbus was arrested and charged with felonious assault after police conducted an investigation at the scene, detaining and interviewing seven witnesses.

Moore said Mosley “made some statements” indicating he committed the shooting. Some witnesses’ testimony also contributed to the probable cause for the arrest.

The victim, Darryl Ginyard of Delaware, sustained a gunshot wound to his upper body and was airlifted to an Ohio State University hospital. Moore said he was told the man went into surgery for his injuries last night.

According to Moore, in the coming days DPD will continue to collect evidence and determine any other involved parties, as well as figure out the motive for the crime. He said officers are “still pursuing the location of the weapon.”

“We know kind of what happened now; the next question is, ‘Why did it happen?’ or ‘What was behind it?’” Moore said.

Moore said the incident bears no relationship to Woodward Elementary School other than its location. He said it’s questionable whether the parties were trespassing because many local schools offer their playgrounds for public use.

“Obviously they were not using the playground for its intended purpose by getting into a fight or shooting firearms, but I really can’t comment on what the school’s policy is about who can use their equipment and when they can or cannot use it,” he said.

Around 9:30 p.m. a Public Safety (PS) alert was sent to OWU warning of a shooting on Liberty Street with the suspect still at large. The alert told students to stay inside.

Director of PS Robert Wood said PS was “not able to confirm immediately who the shooter was” with DPD.

The Babbling Bishops, OWU’s improvisational comedy troupe, were performing their final show of the year in Chappelear Drama Center. During the show, a member of the theater staff took a member of the troupe aside. After the show ended, the troupe informed the audience that “something had happened on Liberty Street.”

By then, many had already seen the first PS alert and a later one from around 10:20, saying police were still searching for suspects and that no students or OWU employees were involved in the shooting.

“Stay inside with doors and windows locked,” the alert said.

Shortly after the Babblers informed the audience the campus was on lockdown and the building was in “crash” position, Officer Jay McCann and Investigator Art Reitz of PS arrived to escort students from Chappelear to the residential halls.

“We’re going to move you in a couple of large groups,” McCann told the audience. “…It’s still an active situation, we are still asking you to stay inside (and keep) doors locked.”

After learning that almost everyone in the audience were going to Bashford, Thomson or Welch Halls, or Small Living Units on Rowland Avenue, McCann announced that they would move as one group, with one PS officer in front and another at the rear.

“Please stay close together, we’re going to go as quickly as possible,” he said. “And again, let me reiterate—until an (all clear) alert comes out, please stay inside. I know this is the last day of classes, I know this is Blackout Thursday…this is very unexpected, and it is a very dangerous thing …the police department is still advising us to stay inside.”

He told the audience he didn’t want to see a student encounter the alleged shooter and be shot.

“You know me well enough, I wouldn’t be telling you this if it wasn’t the truth, I need you to really follow this, okay? Get in your dorms and stay there.”

The audience filed out into Rowland Avenue. Many walked in silence; some had their arms around each other or held hands. They reached the residence halls without incident.

Shortly after midnight, another alert went out, updating that the investigation – now listed at Woodward Elementary, when previous alerts said it was on Liberty Street or off-campus – was ongoing, but that “the scene is quiet.”

“BE CAUTIOUS if out in area,” the alert concluded.

Director of University Communications Cole Hatcher sent a campus-wide email at 12:38 p.m. Friday saying no OWU students or employees were involved in the incident. The message encouraged students, faculty and staff to contact DPD with any relevant information and to sign up for the OWU Alert system that kept the campus informed as details unfolded.

“We hope to provide as much information as we can as quickly as we can, and we hope we succeeded this time,” Hatcher said.

UPDATE: As of 3:42 p.m. on May 3, DPDt issued an arrest warrant for Chante N. Durr on a felonious assault charge. Durr is also suspected in the May 2 shooting incident. According to the DPD press release, anyone with information on Durr’s whereabouts should contact police at (740) 203-1111 or file an electronic report at DPD is also seeking information about the location of the gun used in the shooting.

UPDATE, May 7, 8:33 a.m.: According to DPD Captain Adam Moore, the warrant for Durr’s arrest was issued because investigation indicated she had been involved in the confrontation leading up to the shooting and had made some threats during the incident.