Voices of Women Oral History Project

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As students, staff, faculty and administrators, women have played vital roles in shaping The Ohio State University since its founding. The Voices of Women oral history project aims to capture the stories of these women in their own words. Coordinated by the University Archives and The Women’s Place, this project collects oral history interviews of University women about their years on campus.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 66
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    Interview of Glenda "Rusty" Belote by Olivia Wikle
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Belote, Glenda A.
    Glenda "Rusty" Belote worked in Ohio State's Office of Women’s Services, then transferred five years later to the Office of Residence and Dining Halls to run its Residence Life Program. She was hired in 1976 by Ohio State to work in the then-new Office of Women's Services in the University Counseling Center. Belote describes the early years of the Office, its relationship with the Counseling Center, and the events and programs she helped organize for Ohio State's women students, staff and faculty, sometimes in collaboration with local organizations like the Women's Action Collective.
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    Interview of Carole Anderson by Cindy Holodnak
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Anderson, Carole
    Carole Anderson began her career at The Ohio State University in 1986 as the first permanent Dean of the College of Nursing. When Anderson was hired, there were very few other women deans at the University. She discusses the hardships she faced in this position, as well as the change that she implemented. Anderson also talks about her experiences in the roles of Vice Provost, Interim Dean of the Graduate School, and Dean of the College of Dentistry, before her retirement in 2011.
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    Interview of Nancy H. Rogers by Evelyn Freeman
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Rogers, Nancy H.
    Nancy H. Rogers began her career at Ohio State in 1975 as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law. She became an Assistant Professor in 1976 in Ohio State's College of Law. Rogers discusses her time as a law professor and her experiences in the posts of Vice Provost for Academic Administration (assumed in 1999), and of Dean (assumed in 2001). Rogers also served as Attorney General for the State of Ohio (assumed in 2008). She retired from her faculty position in 2012. Rogers discusses her law career before her time teaching at Ohio State, including the public controversy she experienced when she became the first female law clerk to a Federal District Judge in the Northern District of Ohio. Rogers also was the first female to serve as Dean of Ohio State's College of Law.
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    Interview of Michelle Graf by Megan Springer
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Graf, Michelle
    Michelle Graf describes her experience as a student at The Ohio State University, from 1979 to 1983. In particular, Graf discusses the experience of being named the first female Drum Major of The Ohio State University Marching Band in 1981. Graf, a physical therapy major, has gone on to have a successful career at the Wexner Center as a physical therapist, and has remained active in the Ohio State Alumni Association since graduating.
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    Interview of Carol Pitts Diedrichs by Olivia Wikle
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2022) Diedrichs, Carol Pitts
    Carol Pitts Diedrichs describes her career in The Ohio State University Libraries. She was hired at Ohio State in 1987 as the Head of Acquisitions in the University Libraries. As she gained professional experience, she moved up through the ranks until she held the position of Assistant Director for Technical Services and Collections. She left Ohio State in 2003 to become Dean of Libraries at the University of Kentucky, then was recruited back to Ohio State in 2010 as the Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. During the early part of her career at Ohio State, Diedrichs was especially involved in the creation and development of OhioLINK, a state-wide consortium of libraries. After her return to Ohio State, Diedrichs focused on improving Ohio State's other libraries, including the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library Museum, and the 18th Avenue Library. Diedrichs discusses gender demographics in academic librarianship, a profession which is female-dominated, but in which a large portion of the leadership positions are held by males. She also advocates for greater diversity in the profession of academic librarianship, and describes the importance of mentoring on her own career.
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    Interview of Mabel Freeman by Lydia Simon and Richard Starr
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Freeman, Mabel
    Mabel Freeman discusses her time at Ohio State, which began in 1962 when she arrived on campus as a freshman. She went on to receive her Master's degree and Ph.D. from Ohio State. Freeman first taught high school English, but after her youngest child entered kindergarten, she returned to the University to pursue her Ph.D, and ended up spending her most of her professional career at Ohio State. Freeman discusses the challenges and stereotypes women faced on campus while she was an undergraduate, and she talks about her role as president of the Women's Self-Government Association and how undergraduate student leaders interacted with the university administration at that time. In addition, she discusses her career at Ohio State, which included leadership roles at the University Honors Center and in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Orientation and First-Year Experience, where she saw over time a steady increase of women first-year students choosing an increasingly diverse field of majors. She discusses as well her involvement in the national honorary organization, Mortar Board, including her role chairing its centennial celebration in 2014.
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    Interview of Temple Patton by Hannah Stoll
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Patton, Temple
    Temple Patton attended the Ohio State University-Lima campus as a non-traditional student who was also working full-time and raising two sons. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. After graduating, she began work at Ohio State-Lima in 2002, in the Office of Admissions, and she has worked for Ohio State ever since. She first helped recruit prospective students of color, then developed the D.R.E.A.M. Scholarship Program, which provides financial support to first-generation and non-traditional college students. She now serves as the Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Lima campus, and she also serves as the co-chair of the Diversity Committee and as the Coordinator of the Business Management Program. In 2018, she earned a Master's degree in Public Policy and Management from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, commuting to Columbus from Lima. Patton discusses the pros and cons of a regional campus, equity issues at OSU-Lima, including wage discrepancies, and a lack of representation at Ohio State of women of color in higher leadership roles.
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    Interview of Beth Sutton-Ramspeck by Hannah Stoll
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Sutton-Ramspeck, Beth, 1954-
    After receiving master's degree in English from the University of California at Irvine, Beth Sutton-Ramspeck began teaching the subject at the college level. She discusses how the sexism she encountered during her first teaching job led her to start identifying as a feminist. After earning her Ph.D. from Indiana University, she was hired in as an assistant professor in English at the Ohio State University-Lima campus. She discusses the impact feminism and the #MeToo movement have had on her education, career, and students, and she credits former OSU-Lima Dean Violet Meek for creating a more equitable workplace environment on that campus. In contrasting the Lima campus with the Columbus campus, Sutton-Ramspeck says that the resources of Ohio State in a smaller setting are "a perfect combination."
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    Interview of Karen Meyer by Hannah Stoll
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Meyer, Karen Falter, 1953-
    Karen Meyer received her undergraduate degree in Education from the Ohio State University-Lima campus, then she taught elementary school children before taking a break to have her own children. When she returned to the work force, she focused on adult education, teaching GED programs at Lima Senior High School and the Apollo Career Center. She decided to return to OSU-Lima to earn a Master's degree in Education, with a focus on learning disabilities. She started the Learning Center at the University of Northwestern Ohio, then returned to her alma mater in 1998 where she has since served as an academic advisor and the Coordinator for Disability Services. Because of those roles, she serves on the campus' Diversity Committee, where she has been able to advocate for disabled members of the OSU-Lima community. She describes a supportive and respectful working environment, though she mentions certain challenges that come with working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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    Interview of Violet Meek by Hannah Stoll
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Meek, Violet
    After receiving her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Violet Meek taught at Mount Holyoke College. There, she met her husband, Devon Meek, who ended up on the Ohio State University Department of Chemistry faculty. After moving to Columbus, she taught at Ohio Wesleyan University, where was promoted to department chair, then eventually appointed Dean. In 1986, she became associate director of sponsored programs for the Ohio State University Research Foundation and during that time, she was asked for serve as interim dean of Ohio State University-Lima. In 1991, she was appointed Dean of that campus and retired in 2003. During her tenure at Lima, she worked to increase the number of four-year programs, advocated for Ohio State's mission as a land-grant university and pushed for more resources to be allocated to regional campuses. After retirement, Meek became a Lutheran pastor and serves in that role for smaller congregations on an ad-hoc basis.
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    Interview of Sabine Jeschonnek by Hannah Stoll
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Jeschonnek, Sabine
    A native of Germany, Sabine Jeschonnek arrived at the Ohio State-Lima in 2001 as an assistant professor of Physics. She was promoted to full professor in 2011. Jeschonnek discusses her research on nuclear theory, her involvement in the creation of a new degree – engineering technology – at Ohio State-Lima and her non-academic roles as University Senator and a faculty leader for the student organization, Girls Who Code. She describes imbalances and differences in treatment in academia based on gender, and she talks about the importance of increasing the number of women in STEM fields. She also discusses her advocacy efforts for the regional campuses.
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    Interview of Maria Ignatieva by Hannah Stoll
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Ignatieva, Maria
    Born and raised in Russia, Maria Ignatieva received her bachelor's, Master's and doctoral degrees there. She then moved to Lima in 1992 with her then-husband and daughter, after he was hired as a playwright-in-residence in the Department of Theatre at the Ohio State-Lima campus. The move to the United States was a difficult adjustment, but she was soon hired at Ohio State-Lima as a part-time director in the theater department. She has held various roles there over the years, including directing shows, leading workshops and teaching college courses. She also founded the children's theatre program, which is now called the Theatre for Young Audiences. She is now a full professor. Ignatieva describes how acceptance and representation of international students, staff and faculty has improved on the Lima campus since the 1990s, and she also discusses how her work through the President's Council for Women has helped improve Ohio State's culture for female faculty and staff.
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    Interview of Charlene Gilbert by Hannah Stoll
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Gilbert, Charlene
    Charlene Gilbert attended Yale University as an undergraduate, and she discovered her interest in visual storytelling when she met a documentary filmmaker during an internship. She went to film school and earned a Master of Fine Arts. After graduating she created Homecoming, a PBS documentary about African-American farmers, and she taught in the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo. She won a fellowship at Harvard University, then gained tenure at American University. Her first administrative role was at the University of Toledo, chairing the Department of Women's and Gender Studies and serving as the founding director of Interdisciplinary Studies. She then served as the Dean and Director of Ohio State Lima for three years, from 2014 to 2017. Gilbert recalls her work in this role as both challenging and rewarding, and she shares her passions about advocating for diversity, the students, and the Lima community.
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    Interview of Judith T. Newhouse by Olivia Wikle
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Newhouse, Judith T.
    Judith T. Newhouse describes her 45-year career at Ohio State, starting as a secretary in 1969 in the Fisher College of Business. She served in a number of roles in the College, including as assistant to nine different department chairmen. Her last roughly half dozen years at the college were spent as a program manager in its Office of International Programs. She then transferred to the University's Office of Development, beginning her time there in its stewardship program for high-end donors and ending her time there in its events office. She discusses various changes in the College, including how women were viewed, particularly faculty members. She also discusses her own efforts to further change for staff members at the College, including her role as the first staff member to serve on its Dean's Advisory Council.
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    Interview of Hazel Morrow-Jones by Emma Earick
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2021) Morrow-Jones, Hazel
    Hazel Morrow-Jones describes her experience as a graduate student at The Ohio State University from 1974 to 1980. Over these years, she pursued and received a Master's degree and a Ph.D., both in Geography. Morrow-Jones discusses her family background, her undergraduate education in Geography and Anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota, and her decision to pursue a graduate education at Ohio State. She describes her experience as a female graduate student at OSU during a time in which the gender demographics in academia were shifting so more females were becoming tenure-track faculty.
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    Interview of Barbie Tootle by Katherine Margard
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2019) Tootle, Barbie
    After graduating from an all-girls Catholic school, Barbie Tootle entered Ohio State as a freshman in 1961. She was a student in the College of Commerce, now called the Fisher College of Business, at a time when very few women students were in the program. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Sociology in 1968 while serving as a graduate assistant at the Disaster Research Center. In 1974, she became the Coordinator for Greek Affairs in the Office of Student Life; after eleven years, she became a program coordinator in the President’s Office. She ended her career at Ohio State as special assistant to President E. Gordon Gee. Throughout the interview, Tootle reflects on how student life on campus has changed during the second half of the twentieth century and the early part of the 21st century, particularly for women.
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    Interview of Nila Whitfield by Cindy Holodnak
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2019) Whitfield, Nila
    Nila Whitfield began working in Admissions at The Ohio State University in 1973. She held this position for two years before making the transition to Personnel Services, where she worked in the Tax Office. Three years later, she made another move to the College of Business, taking the position of Director of the Professional Experience Program in Career Services, a title that she held for 20 years. In 1996 she made her final transition to become the Director of Major Gifts for the Midwest in University Development. Whitfield discusses the work she did with different deans, the success she had in helping students find jobs, and her experience of soliciting gifts to the University from major donors.
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    Interview of Kathleen Lechman by Se Jeong Yang
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2019) Lechman, Kathleen
    Kathy Lechman speaks about her work in the Ohio State University Extension Service, part of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Lechman has overseen civil rights compliance since her hiring as Director of Equity and Inclusion in November 2001. Though her position and title have not changed, her role has evolved to include overseeing a diversity catalyst team, which she created in 2007, and organizing Diversity Leadership Symposiums. She speaks about how representation does not necessarily indicate equity, and she also talks about the need for the university to strive for both international and domestic diversity. She describes how her experiences have informed the strategies she uses to effect change, specifically discussing her efforts to address structural disparities while she is limited in her access to those in positions of authority who can change those structures.
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    Interview of Paula H. Smith by Deborah Ballam
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2019) Smith, Paula (Paula H.)
    Paula H. Smith describes her career at Ohio State, which started in 1994 as Associate Director of the Young Scholars Program, under the umbrella of the then-Office of Minority Affairs. She left Young Scholars in 2004 to focus on her Ph.D. and to work at the ACCESS Collaborative Program, also under the umbrella of the then-Office of Minority Affairs, which is now the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Smith discusses various aspects of the Young Scholars program and the Office of Minority Affairs, including perceptions of the program, women’s roles in the unit, personnel changes and conflicts, and changes related to the types of students served. Smith also discusses her involvement in the Black Faculty and Staff Coalition and other university-wide efforts to recruit African-American students. In addition, Smith talks about her experience as a black Catholic woman, both as a student at Ohio State and as an employee of the university. She says she believes women have made progress during her time at OSU, specifically mentioning child-care support and Title IX.
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    Interview of Honor Whitacre by Kay Bea Jones
    (Ohio State University Archives, 2019) Whitacre, Honor
    Honor Whitacre describes her roles at Ohio State as a student and instructor in the Division of Dental Hygiene, and as Director of the Division. Whitacre graduated from OSU in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and had earned a certificate in Dental Hygiene before that. She returned to OSU in 1963 to teach in the Division of Dental Hygiene, and she eventually rose through the ranks to become Director in 1987. She retired as a Professor Emeritus in 1995. She first discusses why she picked the field of dental hygiene, then she describes the insular environment of what was then all white women in the Division, and how that expanded during the 1970s and 1980s when men began to train as hygienists and African-Americans were hired to teach. Another development she discusses is the creation of a four-year degree for Dental Hygiene, and a closer collaboration between Dental Hygiene and Dentistry. Whitacre also talks about committee work, particularly her leadership of the College of Dentistry’s promotion-and-tenure committee.