Mount Union Faculty, Students Collaborate on Research

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Outlaw motorcycle gangs. The Nazification of Christianity.

What may seem like two very diverse topics actually possess one common thread – research on both will be presented by members of the Mount Union faculty and student body at the upcoming Ashland Center for Nonviolence (ACN) Conference this Saturday.

Held at Ashland University, the conference aims to respond seriously to challenges, questions and objections to nonviolence. Representatives from Mount Union’s Departments of Sociology and Criminal Justice and Philosophy and Religious Studies will attend and present research.

Senior Brandon German, a criminal justice and computer science major of Cumberland, Ohio, will present "Is it violence? Understanding the crimes of the outlaw motorcycle gangs.” Throughout his research process, German has received support and guidance from Dr. Andy Bain, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice. Bain asked German if he would be interested in helping him conduct research based on a literature review German wrote for one of his courses last year. Based on this research, German wrote an article, which was published in November in the Student Journal of Crime Investigation and Society. The ACN conference will give him an opportunity to present on his article.

“Public speaking is one of my weak points that I really want to improve on, along with my professional writing skills,” German said. “It’s a whole new experience going from writing a literature review to writing a professional article for a journal. The research was interesting and I’m really looking forward to hearing what everyone at the conference has to say.”

Senior Megan Clevenger, a religious studies and history major of Uniontown, Ohio, has been researching the “Nazification” of Protestant Christianity as part of her Senior Culminating Experience. As she looked into how Nazi Protestant church leaders reinterpreted and rewrote sections of the New Testament, Clevenger worked closely with Dr. John Recchiuti, professor and Chair of the Department of History. Recently, she took the course REL 400 Seminar, “Theologies of Nonviolence” with Dr. Nicole Johnson, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, and Johnson approached her with the idea to present her research at the conference. Clevenger, who plans to attend graduate school for a masters degree in museum studies and collections management, jumped at the opportunity.

“Having this kind of experience will make me a unique choice for graduate programs,” Clevenger said.

In addition to gaining experience presenting research, German and Clevenger will have an opportunity to listen to keynote speaker Robert Brimlow, who will present, “What about Hitler? Does Nonviolence Answer the Problem of Evil in the World?” Brimlow is a faculty member at St. John Fisher College and author of “What About Hitler?”

“I’m really excited about meeting the keynote speaker,” Clevenger said. “I thought his book was really interesting.”

Also during the conference, Johnson will discuss her current research as she presents, "What Do College Students Know about Nonviolence, Anyway?: Undergraduate Research on Nonviolence as Peace Studies Pedagogy.” Johnson will present findings from a student project in Religion 400 (senior seminar). During the course, students did a group research project funded by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, located at Wabash College in Indiana.

“I’ll be talking about doing that as a way to teach Peace Studies and how that project led to conversations about nonviolence that probably wouldn’t have happened in the classroom otherwise,” Johnson said.

Johnson noted that working with students on research is beneficial to both students and faculty members.

“We are at a teaching institution where we don’t have the time to do the kind of research you might do at a research institution,” she said. “By drawing undergraduates into your research, you get to do more because they can help you and their research becomes part of your research. It allows you to feel more engaged and involved in your own field.”

Bain agrees that the benefits of student research are numerous.

“Undergraduate research looks great on graduate school applications,” he said.

Women’s History Month Panel Advocates for Feminism

By Jaime Eyssen

ALLIANCE, Ohio – A panel of Mount Union faculty members and guests spoke as advocates for feminism this past Tuesday at the University of Mount Union.

The panel discussion, titled “The F Word,” was part of a series of ongoing events to celebrate Women’s History Month on campus throughout the month of March. Panelists spoke about their beliefs and experiences regarding feminism or the “F Word.”

Panelists included Dr. Lori Kumler, assistant professor of political science; Dr. Jennifer Martin, assistant professor of education; Dr. Michelle Collins-Sibley, professor of English, chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary and Liberal Studies, director of Integrative Core and director of Africana Studies and American Studies program; Dr. Jamie Capuzza, professor of communication and coordinator of the Gender Studies Program; and Martina Sharp-Grier, Stark State Community College faculty member, department coordinator and assistant professor of sociology.

Each panelist gave a five to seven minute presentation regarding her views on different areas of feminism. The different waves of feminism, rape culture, black feminism and womanism were all areas brought to light during the discussion. 

“Feminism is the philosophy that drives the action to end all forms of oppression,” said Martin. She spoke of the dangers regarding the silence of feminism and how the feminist movement cannot be successful without men joining to take action. 

Sharp-Grier went on to describe what it is like to be a modern black feminist.

“Black feminism lets us define ourselves in our own quest for individualism,” Sharp-Grier said. “I challenge you to really understand what all of this is.”

Collins-Sibley took the message even farther to describe herself as a womanist, an individual who prefers women’s culture and is committed to the survival and wholeness of the entire population, male and female. She discussed how that ties into all forms of oppression, male and female.

“People can experience privilege and oppression at the same time, it just depends on the context,” said Collins-Sibley.

Individual experiences are one aspect that plays into how people respond to feminism. Kumler discussed how her women’s college athletic team being cut influenced her views on feminism.

“What I found meaningful was hearing stories from different women I know,” Kumler said. 

Capuzza challenged students and attendees to take part in the “We Need Feminism Campaign.” This public relations campaign began at Duke University as a way to decrease the negative perceptions associated with the word feminism. As part of this movement, individuals are encouraged to post pictures of themselves on social media holding signs describing why they need feminism. This nationwide campaign allows individuals to find their voice and take action. Members of the audience participated in the campaign using their own social media hastags and sharing stories. 

“If you aren’t getting push back, you aren’t doing it right,” Capuzza said regarding some of the negative attitudes toward the feminist movement.   

Following the panel presentation, the Jane Westen Chapman Award was presented to senior accounting and management major Allie Johnston of Massillon, Ohio for her efforts in promoting gender equality, educating peers about women and providing opportunities for women. This award, named for the first female graduate of Mount Union, is awarded to faculty, staff or students who spread women’s history and address women’s issues on campus.

The evening served as a reminder of the importance of feminism and the impact that it has on our society. 

“Feminism was important yesterday, it is important today and if you haven’t experienced it yet, you will,” Kumler concluded.

Women’s History Month Panel Advocates for Feminism Spring Vocal Showcase to be Presented

ALLIANCE, Ohio – University of Mount Union students will showcase their vocal talents at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday March 31 in Presser Recital Hall of the Cope Music Hall. 

Students will be performing a variety of music by renowned composers such as Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and Frederick Loewe.

Students performing include senior neuroscience major Erin Bell of Mount Vernon, Ohio; senior criminal justice major Victoria Blankenship of North Canton, Ohio; freshman music performance major Abby Dodds of Cadiz, Ohio; junior music performance major Caelyn Eppler of Mentor, Ohio; sophomore Connor Funk of Painesville, Ohio; sophomore music education major Elizabeth Galloway-Purcell of Canton, Ohio; freshman Japanese and music major Victoria Ginty of Lancaster, Ohio; freshman Benjamin Hayes of Akron, Ohio; sophomore communication and theatre major Rachel Irwin of Mentor, Ohio; sophomore Kayla Lehman of Mogadore, Ohio; freshman music education major Katherine Letts of Sharon, Pennsylvania; senior psychology major Clarice Nock of Rome, Ohio; senior middle childhood education and theatre major Megan Ostrofsky of North Canton, Ohio; sophomore music education major Jesse Reed of Diamond, Ohio; senior psychology major Natalie Ricciutti of Canfield, Ohio; sophomore music and theatre major Sarah Slagle of Fairview Park, Ohio; senior music and theatre major Alex Waitinas of Saratoga, California; junior interactive media major Elizabeth Wheeler of Minerva, Ohio and sophomore theatre major Sarah Yannie of Rocky River, Ohio.

For more information, contact the Department of Music at (330) 823-2180 or


Mount Union Invites Community to Giese Center Open House

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Debuting the newest addition to campus, the University of Mount Union invites the surrounding community to attend an open house in the state-of-the-art Giese Center for the Performing Arts from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31.

The Giese Center, the University's new performing arts facility, officially opened in February in time for the start of the spring semester. The center houses the departments of Music and Theatre and includes the Otto Art Gallery, Gallaher Theatre and Brush Performance Hall and a choral room, green room, scene shop, costume shop and dressing rooms as well as additional classroom and office space.

During the open house, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the facility and see areas guests typically wouldn’t see during a performance. The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served.

In addition, the Mount Union Box Office will be open and guests will be able to obtain tickets for several upcoming Giese Center performances. Future events include the Wolf Lecture featuring virtuoso jazz trombonist Bob Ferrel and vocal stylist Helen Welch at 7:30 p.m. April 1 (complimentary tickets); the Kershaw Lecture featuring Broadway composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul at 7:30 p.m. April 9 (complimentary tickets); the Schooler Lecture featuring Tony award nominated actor Carrie Coon ’03 and Tony award winning actor and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tracy Letts at 8 p.m. April 13 (complimentary tickets) and Apollo’s Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, at 7:30 p.m. April 24 (tickets range from $15 to $35).

In October 2014, the University of Mount Union Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name the institution’s new performing arts center in honor of Dr. Richard F. and Mrs. Sandra L. Giese. Giese has served as president of the institution since 2005, when he and his wife returned to Mount Union and the Alliance community they had called home for 19 years.

To properly unveil the Giese Center for the Performing Arts, 2015 was declared the Year of the Arts. The Year of the Arts will feature a full repertoire of music and theatre student performances in the new Giese Center for the Performing Arts, as well as gallery shows by student and professional artists. In addition, a number of the 2015 guest lectures will be dedicated to the arts.

For more information on the open house, contact the University’s Office of Marketing at (330) 823-6063.

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