Dr. Jim Thoma Selected to Teach for a Week in Bangkok

Dr. Jim ThomaALLLIANCE, Ohio – Dr. Jim Thoma, professor in the Department of Human Performance and Sport Business and director of the sport business program, was selected from an international group of educators as one of two professors to teach in Bangkok, Thailand the week of August 22.

Members of the World Association for Sport Management, (WASM) in a partnership with the Sport Authority of Thailand, chose Thoma to present at the Executive Sport Leader Development Program for International Excellence. Teaching alongside Thoma will be Dr. Trish Bradbury of Massey University in New Zealand.

The mission of the program is to help develop leaders in sport management worldwide and will cover topics such as: Operational and strategic planning, event coordination, sport marketing, presentation skills and facility management.

More Than 700 Students Welcomed as Members of Mount Union’s Class of 2020

Signing Matriculation Book 2016ALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union officially welcomed its newest class of students during the annual Matriculation Convocation ceremony held Sunday afternoon.

The Class of 2020 ushered in the academic year with a ceremony held in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex, the same venue in which those same students could receive their degrees four years from now. Dr. Patricia Draves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the University, welcomed the new students –approximately 710 in total. Draves encouraged students to make connections with faculty, among different classes, outside and inside the classroom and with members of the Mount Union community.

“Making connections takes work and will require your full focus and dedication,” Draves said. “You have four short years here so make the most of it. Challenge yourself, challenge one another and yes, be sure to challenge your professors.”

Entering his second academic year as University President, Dr. Dick Merriman spoke to the students about why the uniqueness of the incoming class is important to the University.

“Some of you are extroverted, confident and energized in social situations,” Merimman said. “Others of you are quieter, more likely to think twice before speaking up, and a little slower to reveal yourself to others. Some of you were hyper-involved students in high school.  Others were more focused in terms of your involvement. You bring to the University multiplicity, complexity, difference.”

Merriman said the Class of 2020 comes from Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. In addition, international students represent Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, France, China, Spain, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

“The people seated with you today have great value, in our eyes, just as you do,” Merriman said. “I hope you will see, in the varied backgrounds and experiences of your classmates, and in the diverse people who work at the University, a great opportunity to learn about and appreciate people who are different from you.”

Dr. Grant Cook III, professor of music, director of choral activities and the 2016 Great Teacher, shared words of wisdom with the incoming class. His speech titled, “On Building a Beautiful Life”, Cook spoke about how he too, was not sure of the direction he was going when he entered college, but getting involved opened his eyes to what he was truly passionate about.

He spoke of his journey from high school in western New York to his undergraduate career at Heidelberg University as a football recruit. He joked that he was not recruited by athletic director Larry Kehres, then offensive coordinator for the Purple Raider football team, and was gaining the courage to approach him about this now that he has tenure as a faculty member.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to let it be known publically that I still have four years of eligibility remaining and that I am ready and willing to contribute to a future championship run, if need be,” he joked.

As a member of the pre-engineering program, Cook was sure of the direction he was going to take once on campus until he decided to audition for the Heidelberg Concert Choir.

“As part of the college’s liberal arts curriculum, however, I was required to complete coursework in the fine and performing arts and, consequently, decided to audition for the Concert Choir in order to “check off” this requirement,” Cook said. “I had always enjoyed singing, but, beyond the occasional school or community musical theater production, had few opportunities for organized music making. In the end, singing in the Heidelberg Concert Choir changed my life in ways that are unexplainable and unnamable; in short, choral music became my gateway to a beautiful life.”

Cook also urged the members of the Mount Union faculty and staff to help students not only achieve academic success, but to help serve them to “think well” and help students become heart intelligent.

“Students of the class of 2020, given the urgency of this message, it is imperative that you leave Mount Union not only armed with the requisite information and skills for your chosen profession, but with a humanity that is beautiful enough and bold enough to help stem the tide of this terrible crisis,” he said.

Mount Union senior Caitie Shimp, a senior of Hartville, Ohio and president of Student Senate, told freshmen that the friends they make this year will be friends they carry into the rest of their lives and the memories they make on campus will be remembered for a lifetime.

“Find who you are, “ Shimp said. “You can be whoever you want to be. This was a challenge for me and you should know that it does not happen overnight. I came to realize that it’s not about proving yourself to others or proving them wrong, but it is about proving yourself to you. Remember that.”

Alumni Association representative Bill Schumacher ’82 encouraged students to be involved on campus, both while a student and after graduation.

“I know it’s hard to think a few years down the road to the day you will graduate and all that will come after, but I encourage you to make meaningful connections now that will benefit you long into your futures,” Schumacher said.

After learning about the significance of the Matriculation ceremony from Draves, students had an opportunity to sign the Matriculation Book. Signing the book is a pledge that students will dedicate their efforts and talents to excellence in liberal learning and career preparation. The book, which remains in the care of the Office of the President until graduation, will be on display in the University Store during graduation week in 2020 for students to see.

University of Mount Union Renews Commitment to Investment Alliance Scholarship Initiative with Alliance City Schools

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Today, the University of Mount Union announced its continued commitment to battle “brain drain” in the area and keep Alliance’s best and brightest in the city by renewing the Investment Alliance scholarship initiative. Initially launched in 2014 in cooperation with Alliance City Schools, the scholarship program awards full-tuition scholarships to high-caliber Alliance High School graduates.

Through Investment Alliance, the top 15 students of each Alliance High School graduating class who meet the eligibility requirements of the program are awarded full-tuition undergraduate awards to Mount Union that are renewable for up to four years. Launched as a four-year pilot program for the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 cohorts of Alliance High School graduates, the program has been extended for four more years. Thus, the top 15 students graduating from Alliance High School in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 will have an opportunity to benefit from the award.

“As an educational institution located in the district, we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to extend our partnership with Alliance City Schools on this initiative,” said Dick Merriman, president of Mount Union. “There is no doubt that, in its first three years in existence, this program has made a significant impact on the recipients. Since its inception, we’ve enrolled 14 recipients and will welcome 12 more this fall, bringing the total investment in these 26 students to $3 million for their four-year undergraduate experiences.”

“When we began our deliberations regarding the future of this program, the need was apparent and the benefit was clear,” Merriman added. “We are rewarding these students’ academic achievements with four-year undergraduate full-tuition awards, and they are enriching our campus community through their academic pursuits, leadership abilities and service-minded approach.”

The 12 Investment Alliance recipients enrolling as freshmen this fall will be joined by 19 of their Alliance High School Class of 2016 classmates. The arrival of these 31 new students in a few weeks will mark an all-time high with regard to the enrollment of Alliance High School students in one Mount Union entering class. 

To be eligible for the award, students will need to:          

  • Meet undergraduate admission criteria to the University and be granted undergraduate admission.
  • Be identified as an eligible recipient by the high school based upon meeting the required rank in the top 15 students of the graduating class as of the sixth semester of high school study and earn a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in the seventh semester of high school study.
  • Demonstrate continuous traditional enrollment at Alliance High School for the full four years of study and earn an Alliance High School diploma, completing all degree requirements by the spring commencement (excludes home-schooled students; includes students with normal accelerated credits including post-secondary, dual credit and AP)
  • Enroll as an undergraduate student at Mount Union in the fall semester immediately following AHS high school graduation unless participating in an approved study abroad experience or transfer from another accredited higher education institution before the start of the second year of undergraduate study

The Investment Alliance award is renewable for four years (unless the college degree is completed before then) as long as the student maintains a 3.0 cumulative GPA at Mount Union and is enrolled full time. The cumulative GPA is reviewed the first time after the fourth semester and annually after that. 

A second review of the program will take place in 2020 to determine its future viability beyond 2021.

 “Motivating our students to maintain high academic achievement and emphasizing to them, even at a young age, that a college education can make a valuable impact on their futures is a priority for Alliance City Schools,” said Jeffery S. Talbert, superintendent of Alliance City Schools. “I can think of no better way to fulfill this commitment than to continue our collaboration with the University of Mount Union on the Investment Alliance initiative. Not only does it benefit our students in so many very critical ways, but it will assist in our efforts to position the district as an attractive option for those living within the city limits and beyond.”

In addition to benefiting the community by remaining in Alliance during their college years, students earning Investment Alliance awards further impact the city by giving back to their home high school community through service initiatives while students at Mount Union. They also serve as Mount Union ambassadors of sorts when called upon by the University to do so. 

Students in the program have also been afforded the opportunity to secure hands-on job experiences with Alliance-area businesses and organizations as a result of the leadership of a number of city business leaders and the organization of the Alliance Area Development. In fact, this past summer, Kelby Smith, a member of the inaugural cohort of Investment Alliance award recipients, benefited from a marketing internship with the Greater Alliance Foundation. 

“For years, the University and school district have collaborated on many valuable and rewarding initiatives including shared facilities, joint educational programming, mentorship opportunities and practical experiences for Mount Union students.” said Merriman. “This is simply a continuation of our partnership. Investment Alliance truly demonstrates our mutual commitment to bettering Alliance and ensuring a bright future for the city and its residents who call it home.”


Mount Union Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program Receives CAPTE Candidate for Accreditation Status

ALLIANCE, Ohio – The University of Mount Union’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy (PT) program has received candidate for accreditation status from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE) effective August 5, 2016.

To date, the PT program has 25 students currently committed in its inaugural class, which will begin coursework in the fall of 2016.

“Receipt of Candidate for Accreditation status from CAPTE is the first step toward obtaining full accreditation and is the culmination of an immense amount of work and effort for the faculty and staff in the Department of Physical Therapy,” said Dr. Robert Frampton, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Mount Union. “I couldn’t be more proud to work with such a dedicated group of individuals.”

Mount Union has also secured approval from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and authorization from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

The program is eligible to receive full accreditation after the first class completes its didactic studies just prior to receiving their doctoral degree in May of 2019. Per CAPTE, “Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates that the program is progressing toward accreditation and may matriculate students in technical/professional courses.”

“The body of work completed for CAPTE is the foundation upon which we are now able to enroll students and be confident in knowing we will prepare them to be great Physical Therapists,” said Frampton. “Our department is so excited to be able to welcome the inaugural class!”

“We are very excited to have these students continue their education at Mount Union,” said Dr. Patricia Draves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the University. “We look forward to the continued growth of the program and its production of quality physical therapists nationwide."

CAPTE is an accrediting agency that is nationally recognized by the US Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CAPTE grants specialized accreditation status to qualified entry-level education programs for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants.

Accreditation is a process used in the US to assure the quality of the education that students receive. It is a voluntary, non-governmental, peer-review process that occurs on a regular basis.

Alliance Symphony Orchestra to Perform with Acclaimed Musician, Alex Bevan

Alex BevanThe Alliance Symphony Orchestra will be performing with acclaimed northeast Ohio singer-songwriter, Alex Bevan, during their performance at the annual Carnation Festival. Bevan, known as “The Skinny Kid from Cleveland, Ohio” will perform as a soloist in his classic series titled “Watersongs.” The performance is free and open to the public, and will take place Wednesday, August 17 at 7 p.m. at Silver Park in Alliance.

Released in 1996, “Watersongs” is about rivers near and far, and is a favorite among the many followers of this revered figure in folk music. The songs are an eclectic mix, stylistically, ranging from folk ballad and love song to comic satire to pastoral meditation and even boogie woogie rock n' roll. The inspiration for each song derives from Bevan's own experience as a traveler, poet, and environmentally-conscious artist encountering the beauty and imagery of rivers. The songs detail experiences from Alaska's Copper to the Salmon in Idaho to the Grand and the Cuyahoga rivers in his native state, Ohio.

Alliance Symphony conductor, Eric Benjamin, first heard the studio recording in 1996. “Immediately I thought: orchestra!” recalls Benjamin. An accomplished composer and arranger, Benjamin approached Bevan with the idea of making orchestral accompaniments for the songs, to which Bevan agreed.

“Eric's arrangements are incredible,” states Bevan. “We have done this show twice now and I look forward to bringing it to Alliance.” His performance in this concert is made possible with underwriting from ArtsinStark.

“It is a special pleasure to take music that already works well just for solo singer and guitar and then to imagine what a full symphony orchestra can bring to the song.” remarks Benjamin. 

Continuing with the river and water theme, the Alliance Symphony will also perform Strauss' beloved "Blue Danube" waltz, Handel's "Water Music" suite and, just for fun, the popular orchestral music from "Pirates of the Caribbean".

In case of inclement weather, the orchestra will perform that night in the Brush Performance Hall in the Giese Center for Performing Arts on Mount Union’s campus.