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College's distinguished awards highlight faculty, staff success

EHE News
April 10, 2014

2014 recipients go over and above in scholarship, teaching, service

The College of Education and Human Ecology has honored six faculty and staff members for their outstanding contributions to the college, as well as to The Ohio State University and society as a whole.

Dean Cheryl Achterberg presented the 2014 EHE Awards of Distinction at a celebration of college accomplishments on April 10 in Columbus. The awards recognize efforts to enhance diversity and improve college policy. Teaching skills and research expertise are also honored.

“There are many, many faculty and staff deserving recognition for what they do every day,” Achterberg said. “Each year, nominations for the EHE Awards of Distinction reveal the ways our college community goes above and beyond to serve our students, alumni and each other.”


Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award: Elaine Richardson, professor of literacy studies, Department of Teaching and Learning.

Distinguished Service Awards: Mollie Blackburn, professor of literacy, language and culture, Department of Teaching and Learning; and Jason Ronis, academic program coordinator, Department of Human Sciences.

Distinguished Teaching Award: Claire Kamp Dush, professor of human development and family science, Department of Human Sciences.

Distinguished Scholarship Award: George Newell, professor of English and language arts education, Department of Teaching and Learning.

Dean’s Annual Distinguished Research Award: Natasha Slesnick, professor of human development and family science, Department of Human Sciences.


The award recognizes Elaine Richardson’s significant commitment to enhancing the college’s broad diversity, with her actions reflecting her belief in its value.

“Dr. E,” Richardson organizes a highly visible conference on hip-hop literacy every year. Perhaps less well-known are her Sista-Friends Afterschool Clubs for middle school girls and service on diversity committees in the Department of Teaching and Learning and the University Senate, as well as with the National Council of Negro Women. The list goes on. As a nominator said, “Dr. E’s commitment to diversity, social justice and equity is boundless.”


The award was presented to two individuals who made extensive contributions that allow fellow faculty, staff and students to achieve excellence.

Mollie Blackburn has dedicated countless hours to the College of Education and Human Ecology and to The Ohio State University, but her service goes beyond putting in time. Her colleagues praise the impact she has in EHE and across campus on undergraduate studies, faculty governance and the student experience. As one nominator said, Blackburn “works on behalf of students and young people for social justice and change.”

Jason Ronis plans complex logistics necessary to run an academic department – and then devises resourceful solutions for inevitable glitches. For instance, for spring semester Ronis was central to scheduling 18,000 students in 82 classrooms in 34 Columbus campus buildings, but even small requests to him received immediate attention. As a nominator said, “He is the most efficient and responsive staff member I have interacted with in my 40 years at four universities.”


The award highlights how Claire Kamp Dush enables inquiry, reflection and innovation, multiple perspectives and technology while also encouraging scholarship and collaboration. Kamp Dush possesses the academic, personal and administrative skills necessary to be an outstanding mentor for undergraduate and graduate students. She shares her extensive expertise, stimulates students’ own scholarship and reaches out personally when needed. She oversees development of improved curriculum and courses, co-founded a doctoral writing group and offers professional development seminars. A student noted, “Claire is at my side.”


The selection of George Newell acknowledges his research, which transforms and integrates knowledge, which also facilitates learning, solves compelling problems,

contributes to public policy, evaluates practices and programs, and interprets knowledge. Newell has been at the cutting edge of secondary school English language arts since being named a Promising Researcher in the 1980s. He now is setting the agenda for inquiry on argumentation and the teaching and learning of argumentative writing – giving secondary students the ability to understand complex ideas, consider old and new ideas, and base opinions on evidence. As a nominator said, “His scholarship is among the most exciting work in the field of secondary composition education.”

Dean’s Annual Research Award

This new award is reserved for academics whose work has had a significant impact on a compelling social issue. Natasha Slesnick’s decades of research with an underserved vulnerable population, runaway and homeless youth, is truly transformational. She founded Star House in Columbus, Ohio, the only drop-in center in the nation using research-based interventions to help homeless youth return to society. A licensed clinical psychologist, she also studies families and adolescents with issues such as substance use. One nominator said, “Natasha has one of the strongest externally funded research programs in the college.” Another said, “The Department of Human Sciences is very fortunate to have such an excellent researcher.”


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