Friday, September 16, 2016

English Majors Participate in Entrepreneurship Immersion Week

Current English majors Bethany Meadows and Tom Nesbitt participated in Entrepreneurship Immersion Week at the University of Mount Union July 31-August 5. Along with three other students, Meadows and Nesbitt represented AU in a competition to devise the best new business concept. Nesbitt describes the experience in a recent Collegian article:

Meadows attests to the value of EIW: 

I had a blast in participating. It was worthwhile experience in regards to combining my Public Relations experience and the creativity from my English classes to develop a business concept. Furthermore, I loved getting to collaborate with many students both from Ashland and from other universities. We were all from different disciplines, which allowed for everyone to have strengths and weaknesses that could shine in the whole group. If I had the chance, I would love to participate again because it allowed me to grow as both an individual and as a student. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

And He Laughed: A Tribute to John Stratton

By Jenny (Valko) Mercer, class of 2007, Integrated Language Arts major

When I saw on social media that Dr. Stratton had passed away, I audibly gasped, and my heart broke. My favorite professor, advisor, a man whom I admired and adored, was gone. I took Dr. Stratton for second semester freshman composition because it was an open section. That small decision made a significant impact on the rest of my time at AU. He gave me my first C ever on the first paper. I ended up in his office in tears. It was during that conversation he looked at me and asked why I was crying, because he knew it was more than that paper. He somehow saw into my heart in that conversation; and I told him the truth. My father had been diagnosed with cancer over that Christmas break and I wrote that paper the week before his surgery to remove the tumor. 

Was my paper bad? Yes, and I deserved the C. My writing was not up to his standards and I certainly didn't think the way he expected. It was during that conversation he explained that an essay should be like spinning a spider web; each idea had to be spun together to make a web. Who else would explain an essay like that, except for Dr. Stratton? My writing wasn't good enough, but my emotional state made it worse. But he listened to me that day in his office. And made me laugh. And I saw who he was in so many ways in that conversation. He truly listened and made me feel better about my dad. Then, he helped me to become a better writer and thinker in that conversation, and in all of the classes I had with him after that. In every class, Dr. Stratton challenged my ways of thinking and writing, and made me laugh through it all. Beyond that, he always remembered that first conversation in his office. He often asked in his own way how my dad was doing, and how I was really doing. He cared to ask, but cared even more to listen to the response.

I'm not sure one could explain him as a professor, unless you had sat in his classes. He was eccentric, quirky, full of wit and humor, while being passionate and sincere. Dr. Stratton made us students see things differently, and he certainly pushed us all outside of our comfort zones and little boxes. But so much of how he taught us, myself in particularly, to understand how to think and write, and analyze Shakespeare, I find myself sharing and using to teach my high school students the same things.

After taking several of his classes, it was clear that he wasn't just admired and adored by me, but by pretty much every other student. At some point during those four years, we nicknamed him Strattypants. I'm not sure why, and it was out of love, even though it probably sounds disrespectful. We never called him that to his face. We heard that a student after we graduated called him that to his face; I can only hope he knew it was out of admiration. And I hope that he laughed.

We all tried to take his classes as often as possible. Even now, my social media feed can attest to that as several AU alumni shared their sadness in Dr. Stratton's passing, but also rejoicing and celebrating the memories and lessons we learned from him. I can only hope that before he passed away, he knew how much we admired and adored him, and his Birkenstock sandals with socks.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Alumna Reflects on John Stratton's Generosity and Grace

By Christina Adkins, class of 2008, Integrated Language Arts major

The news of Dr. Stratton saddened me deeply. He was my academic advisor during my undergrad years at Ashland during 2004 through 2008. He was always patient with me even when he was offering stern advice. Because of his persistence in pushing me to finish what I started, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have graduated had it not been for him. You see, I nearly failed out during my junior year of college. I got so caught up in the social aspects of college life, was working full time waitressing, and wanted so badly to make friends that I let my studies fall to the wayside. I can recall countless times I'd sit in his office for advice, encouragement, or just to have someone to talk to. Every time I would come in, he'd turn from whatever he was doing and give me his full attention. He could have easily failed me. He could have easily turned away, but instead he gave me the grace and hope I needed to complete my education. He set a plan in place to get me back on track, and didn't talk down to me regardless of the crazy issues I'd come to him with.

There is one particular occasion that really sticks out to me about him. As a broke college student, I would always sell back my textbooks after each term. One set of books, the Norton Anthology, was a set of 4 that retailed for over $300 at the time. I sold them back after my junior year once I had completed the classes I had needed them for in order to buy books for the next class. I found out closer towards graduation that I needed those particular books to study for my Praxis Content Area exam that would later lead to my teaching certification. I came to him venting, crying mostly about how I felt stupid for selling back those particular books because I couldn't afford to buy them again to study with. He stopped me and reassured everything would be alright. He then got up and pulled all 4 of those books I had needed off his bookshelf and handed them to me. He told me it was my early graduation present. That wasn’t his first instance of grace towards me. On another occasion, when I had come in just to have someone to talk to, he shared with me a short short story he had written about his rose garden. It was a symbol of hope and beauty during times of chaos, which was quite the metaphor in relation to my life during that time.

Out of all the professors I’ve had throughout the years, I can honestly say my favorite would have to be Dr. Stratton. He believed in me before I was fully able to believe in myself. When I wanted so badly to give up and just quit, he encouraged me to keep fighting and not give up hope. To never ever give up hope because without it we are nothing. I contribute not only my graduation from Ashland to his sincere efforts as my college advisor, but also the gift of compassion. He taught me to give beyond the job expectation, to give the gift of knowledge freely, and to focus on the good even during times of chaos.

After college, I moved down south. I taught high school English for over five years, earned my Master’s Degree, and am now enrolled in the PhD program for Education. I would have never considered continuing my education if it weren’t for Dr. Stratton pushing me during my undergrad years. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to go back and thank Dr. Stratton for his all of his sincere efforts and patience in having me as an advisee. I was probably annoying to him, and I’m sure I drove him nuts with my constant visits, but he always responded with grace and patience. He changed my life and I regret never taking the time to thank him for that.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Local Educator and Alumna Remembers John Stratton

By Aaryn (Faith) Wynn, class of 2003

I came to AU as an accounting major my freshman year, in 1998; little did I know how completely illogical that was for me. I had Dr. Stratton for my freshman English course, and he recognized my love for literature and writing. After much discussion with him and my adviser, I changed my major to Integrated Language Arts Education 7-12 that next semester. I took several additional courses taught by him, and not only absorbed the literature and crafted my writing, but also how to be an effective teacher. This is my fourteenth year in the profession, and I know I'm doing what I was intended to do.

I still use several of the selections he used and his methods of teaching in my own classroom, today. I have a packet of selections that he entitled "Poetic Prose", and use this as the introduction to my poetry unit in my Junior English classes at Crestview High school. He knew how to lessen the anxiety students feel about analyzing poetry and to foster interest in poems. When discussing essay writing, I often quote him, saying, "If it's only clear and concise, it's boring. Take risks. But don't make it muddy for the sake of being muddy, either; make it meaningful." I wrote that in my notes in one of his classes, and I've never forgotten it.

He was always jovial (I remember us laughing at/with him for wearing socks with his sandals) and kind, yet honest and critical when necessary. That said, he was willing to take time with anyone who needed help.

He is a legend.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

AU Mourns the Passing of Dr. John Stratton


John David Stratton, 72, died at his Ashland home Sunday morning, August 28, 2016 with his wife Dorothy and his daughters beside him. On the evening of August 27 they celebrated John and Dorothy’s 50th wedding anniversary just a few days early. Sharing the memories brought a smile to John’s face and even prompted a joke or two.

Friends and colleagues knew John as a man of integrity who lived his beliefs, often working quietly behind the scenes for the causes and organizations that were important to him. With a strong vision of pulling people together to resolve conflict and inequality without violence, he founded and served as the first Executive Director of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence. At his death, he was treasurer of the Ashland County Oral Health Services (9th Street Dental Center), which he also helped to establish. He also served on the board of directors of Directions Credit Union. While he won many awards for his work, he accepted them with humility, usually giving the credit to someone else.

He was an avid reader and collected far too many books. He loved music and collected far too many CDs. He loved art; major art museums were his favorite travel destinations. He had a deep knowledge of many subjects and loved to converse about them, often over a cup of hot tea. His garden of historic roses scented the neighborhood early every summer. Flowers were grown out of a love for beauty, vegetables for his more practical wife.

John was a loving son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. Having fun, making jokes, and otherwise livening things up were second nature to him, as was gently offering support and encouragement to those in difficult situations. He was a generous man with a good heart. He encouraged others to do better simply by his example.

John was born in Southern California on April 9, 1944. He graduated from California Western University with a BA degree in 1966 and married Dorothy Jarsensky on September 3 of that year. They moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he completed a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English at the University of Nebraska.

John taught English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 1970-84. In 1984 he gave up his tenured position to move to Ashland for his wife’s new position as a faculty member in social work at Ashland University (then Ashland College).

John began teaching again in Ashland, first on a part-time and then on a full-time basis. He helped to establish AU’s Writing Center and served in many capacities on campus, including Dean of Arts and Humanities at a time of organizational changes at the University. Colleagues and students knew John for his self-deprecating humor, his ability to challenge conventional thinking, his capacity for innovative problem-solving, and his work ethic.

John was a long-time member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He attended Wooster Friends Meeting. Deeply spiritual and always seeking moral rightness, he had the ability to take matters seriously, but not so much himself. He often spoke of joy, which he thought was lacking in our serious and conflicted world, and did his best to bring a smile or a laugh to people’s hearts. While John was a person with strong passion for causes he believed in, his views were not forced on others. He could move a discussion in a deeper direction by asking challenging questions without making judgement.

In addition to his wife Dorothy, John is survived by daughters Catherine (Nathan) Stratton Treadway and Elaine (Florian) Stratton Hild and three grandchildren: Tobias Hild and Oliver and Elise Stratton Treadway.

He is also survived by his mother, Mildred Stratton, and sisters Marie (Paul) Cole and Judith (Karl Krauskopf) Stratton, sisters-in-law Patricia Reel and Sylvia (Jack) Elzner, and their families.

Calling hours will be Friday, September 2, from 1-4 p.m. in the lower level of Ashland University Chapel. A memorial service will be held Saturday, October 1, at 1 p.m. in the Ashland Theological Seminary Ronk Memorial Chapel. Arrangements for a private “natural burial” at Kokosing Nature Preserve in Gambier are being made through the Flowers-Snyder Funeral Home in Mount Vernon.

Memorial contributions in honor of John’s life and work can be made to the Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University, either on-line at or by mail: Ashland Center for Nonviolence, 401 College Avenue, Bixler 108, Ashland, OH 44805.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to the family by visiting

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

English Department Majors Complete Career Ready Internships at Bookmasters

Emily Cardwell and Garrison Stima
From the AU News Center

8/23/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University students Emily Cardwell and Garrison Stima completed summer internships with fellow-Ashland organization and book publisher services company Bookmasters as part of the Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Program.

The Career Ready Internship Program, funded through a grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation and available to eligible students through the spring 2018 semester, allows Ashland University students to engage in paid internships while exploring possible career paths.

At Bookmasters, one of the United States’ largest providers of publisher services including book manufacturing, warehousing, sales and distribution, and eBook conversion, Cardwell was part of the metadata team while Stima worked with the sales and marketing team. Placed in different, but equally important departments, the students have undertaken several tasks at the complex and gained a plethora of experience in their respective offices.

Cardwell, a senior from Norwalk, Ohio, majoring in English and history, was supervised by Bookmasters’ metadata and eBooks manager, Claire Holloway.

“My time at Bookmasters was incredibly rewarding,” Cardwell said. “I was only there for three months, but I learned a great deal of invaluable information about the publishing industry firsthand, especially concerning the importance of metadata, an aspect of publishing that is often overlooked. The people at Bookmasters were welcoming and supportive, and I was able to explore a new career path open to English majors that I had not yet considered. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

“We have thoroughly enjoyed having Emily on the team this summer,” Holloway said. “She has worked hard and, I hope, has seen that the hidden side of publishing is actually quite interesting. I found my first publishing position through an internship and know that getting your foot in the door and learning the vernacular creates possibilities in the future. I've perhaps given Emily too many ‘life lessons’ about publishing, but if I can help her get in and move up in her future career, then it is time well spent. I know she will go far and I hope she remembers her time at Bookmasters fondly.”

Kristen Steele, Bookmasters’ director of marketing and publisher relations, supervised Stima, a junior from Crestline, Ohio, majoring in creative writing and religion with a minor in ethics.

“This past summer at Bookmasters has been immensely fulfilling,” Stima said. “While I was also only present for three months, my life was opened up to the world of publishing and advertisement on a level that I had never experienced before. From the day-to-day lessons in the office, to the expansion of options in my vocational fields to various advertisement routes and to creative marketing practices, this has been a vital time in my life. Not to mention the extreme kindness I’ve received from everyone at Bookmasters during the whole process. I truly loved being there and couldn’t have been more satisfied.”

“From his first day, Garrison jumped right into every task given to him, which not only says something about him as an individual but also much about Ashland University and their ability to prepare students for their future careers,” Steele said. “Garrison’s skill set and work ethic were a perfect fit for Bookmasters’ sales team and even though he only spent a few short months with us, we’re thankful for his contributions and will miss his smile and sense of humor in our office!”

Altogether, from the students who were able to foster new skills and knowledge to Bookmasters who covered a widespread expanse with them, the experience was rewarding for all parties involved. Finally, with the summer of 2016 drawing to a close, Bookmasters is extending a hand toward the future in the hopes of further partnerships with Ashland University.

About Ashland University: Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.

About Great Lakes: Dedicated to making college education a reality since 1967. Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates was established as a nonprofit group focused on a single objective: helping students nationwide prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education and student loan repayment. As a leading student loan guarantor and servicer, we have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance and repayment planning to more than 8 million borrowers—as well as assistance to colleges and lenders nationwide. Our group’s earnings support one of the largest and most respected education philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, we have committed nearly $172 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. For additional information, visit

Article written by Emily Cardwell and Garrison Stima

Monday, August 8, 2016

Seventeen Students Graduate from AU's MFA

The summer residency for the MFA program—two weeks of workshops, reading, and literary fellowship—came to a close on July 30. On July 28, the program recognized seventeen students who completed their degrees. Read about it here: