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Join us for ACE Day 2016!

Welcome to Ohio Northern University! I hope to see you at ACE (Ada Civic Engagement) Day on August 20!

There is a rich history of service and civic engagement at Ohio Northern University. When H.S. Lehr founded ONU in 1871, he envisioned a University whose graduates would take their skills and knowledge out into the community, region, nation and the world to serve the greater society.

Service and giving back are important parts of who we are today at ONU. Our service mission is really a part of our broader education mission. While we want you to be successful and make significant contributions to your profession, we also encourage you to be actively involved in your communities and work to make those communities better places.

ONU’s practice-based professional programs lend themselves well to service learning. Many faculty members have built service and community outreach into the curriculum. Projects like EPICS, Health Wise, Life Works, Stem 2 STEM, the Legal Clinic, Operation Immunization as well as many senior capstone projects are designed to meet identified civic and community needs. They also provide students with hands-on, practical experience related to their academic majors.

Community service and volunteerism also are important parts of life outside the classroom. ONU students make a difference and help solve real-life problems in the village of Ada, Hardin County, west central Ohio and the world. Some examples include building a house with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering for Relay for Life, delivering a meal, calling on a lonely senior, helping with health screenings, collecting toys for children in need, working in the local community garden, tutoring, providing one-on-one music instruction for underprivileged youth, serving food at the local food pantry, and cleaning up the village park.

Although service activities are numerous and varied, we can do more to identify additional opportunities to serve, to be more civically engaged and to connect more students to community organizations that need assistance.

In the past five years, I have discovered a keen interest on the part of ONU students to serve and engage with the community, and I have learned that community and regional organizations offer untapped opportunities for service and service learning.

Yet, finding service opportunities that match student interests and schedules is not always easy. In addition, engaging students early in their academic careers, especially freshmen, is challenging because they are unfamiliar with the local and regional communities. 

To meet this challenge, we launched an initiative in 2012 as part of Welcome Weekend. Called Ada Community Engagement (ACE) Day, it was designed to introduce incoming students to Ada and the many ways they can reach out, connect with the local community and make a difference in people’s lives.

Organized by Student Affairs, ACE Day is service on a grand scale, with students volunteering to spend a morning making a difference in the village of Ada, their new home. Students will scrape and paint, clean yards and assist with landscaping in parks and other public spaces, visit and help with programs at the local nursing home, and collect and distribute food at the food pantry. With so many projects anticipated for the day, you will have the opportunity to leave the Ada community a little better than you found it.

The years that students spend at ONU are a time of discovery, change and transformation. We want you to learn firsthand that you can make a difference through service. We want you to be not just a scholar, but a citizen scholar, to be able to recognize community needs and issues and be willing to act on them. At Northern, we encourage students to get involved, find time for service and make it a part of their lives. In so doing, you can act on the words of John Wesley, founder of the United Methodist Church, who said, “Do all the good you can, to all the people you can, in all the places you can.” Above all, you will learn the power of doing good.

I encourage you to get involved with service from the very beginning – sign up for ACE Day! You will be a part of an experience with more than 300 students, faculty and staff in a way that will leave an impact on you and your new community.

Chris Burns-DiBiasio
ONU’s First Lady and Director of Community Relations