Ohio Wesleyan University has been honored by the Ohio College Personnel Association (OCPA) with its 2018-2019 Innovative Program and Equity & Inclusion awards.
The dual honors were announced at the OCPA’s 2019 annual conference held Jan. 24-25 in Worthington. Ohio Wesleyan was honored for the innovation of its new three-day Camp Oh-Wooo orientation program for incoming students and for the impact of its longstanding Columbus Initiative, a tutoring and mentoring program that has been connecting OWU students with pupils in inner-city Columbus for 30 years.
“It is an honor for Ohio Wesleyan to be recognized by the Ohio College Personnel Association,” said President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “Both programs earning OCPA awards exemplify the tireless work of our staff to provide opportunities that help OWU students to successfully complete their college careers and that support other young people in their educational journeys. I’d especially like to recognize Brad Pulcini, associate dean for student engagement, and Sally Leber, director of community service learning, for their outstanding work on these initiatives.”
The OCPA’s Innovation Award is presented each year to a student affairs professional who has “initiated a new program or unique approach to a college policy, program, or problem,” the organization states. “Through this award, OCPA recognizes innovative and effective approaches directed towards meeting the changing needs of students on the campus and the applicability of these approaches to other campuses.”
Pulcini, the award recipient, said “many OWU community members, especially Dana Behum, who coordinated Camp Oh-Wooo last year, are responsible for the program’s success.”
“The Camp Oh-Wooo program/model focused on cultivating an early and strong connection to campus and others, while developing students’ sense-of-belonging and their own beliefs that they can overcome challenges and obstacles they may face as they transition to college,” Pulcini said.
“The development of a sense-of-belonging has been shown to increase student persistence and success in college,” he continued. “At the completion of Camp Oh-Wooo this fall, 90% percent the incoming class reported that they were excited and felt ready to start the school year.”
Launched in 2017-2018, Camp Oh-Wooo was optional in its first year, but now is a part of every new student’s OWU orientation. And there’s no additional charge to participate in the off-campus experience, thanks, in part, to a grant from the Cleveland-based Elizabeth Ring Mather and William Gwinn Mather Fund.
The OCPA’s Equity and Inclusion Award is presented annually to “an individual, campus/community program or service who or which has demonstrated creativity, innovation, and success in making a significant contribution and impact in the area of multicultural understanding and appreciation,” the association states. “The purpose of this award is to encourage and recognize outstanding efforts addressing cultural diversity issues in higher education.”
For three decades, Ohio Wesleyan’s Columbus Initiative has paired Ohio Wesleyan tutors with students at Linden STEM Academy (formerly Linden Elementary School) in Columbus.
Through this initiative, hundreds of OWU students have worked to promote change in the academic experience of students in grades kindergarten through six, Leber said. Designed to provide tutoring and academic support, the program also provides opportunities for OWU students to learn about the effects of poverty on education, the role of society as it relates to those who are in need, and the ongoing national conversations about school reform, immigration, and healthcare.
“As part of the program, OWU students reflect on their experiences through a social justice and engagement lens,” Leber said. “The program seeks to promote an understanding and responsiveness to issues of equity and inclusion while encouraging students to be engaged in their communities.
“We are so grateful for the opportunities provided by our partners at Linden STEM Academy,” Leber continued. “Without them, our students would not have this meaningful experience to learn and serve in an urban setting.”
Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Camp Oh-Wooo at www.owu.edu/CampOhWooo and more about the Columbus Initiative and other OWU Community Service Learning Center initiatives at www.owu.edu.service.
About the Ohio College Personnel Association
Chartered in 1976, OCPA exists to advance student learning and development and achieves its mission by facilitating the sharing and creation of knowledge and best practices for student affairs professionals throughout the State of Ohio. Learn more at www.myocpa.org.
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