Ohio Northern's English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta, enjoys hot chocolate with Dean Baumgartner, discussing books, literature and the importance of selling your skills in the job market (photo/ Northern Review/Dominic Turnea).

What questions would an English student ask their college Dean? What does the Dean ask their students? On Feb. 5, English majors and the members of Ohio Northern’s English Honorary Society, Sigma Tau Delta, met with Dean of Arts & Sciences, Holly Baumgartner. The students and faculty enjoyed hot chocolate while learning about Baumgartner’s experience as a Dean, and what makes her a true English major.

In the past, Sigma Tau Delta has had tea with campus administrators and officials, discussing the importance of English and why students should continue to pursue a liberal arts degree. Sigma Tau Delta advisor and assistant professor Dr. Douglas Dowland believes that these events are beneficial for both faculty and students, and a chance to recognize the work that goes into making the English department what it is today.

“It’s a great way to know the campus leaders. We take our achievements in literature and language to a whole new level,” Dowland said.

Baumgartner always loved classic literature while growing up. From having poems published when she was only five-years-old, to reading “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” in the third grade, Baumgartner has displayed her skills as a passionate creative writer and a lover of literature. But, her career as an English major started during her college years. Originally majoring in biology, Baumgartner changed her major after taking her first col- lege literature course. Eventually, she earned her degree in English literature and classical studies from the University of Toledo. Despite being busy as a Dean for the Getty of Arts and Sciences at Northern, she still manages to write and have creative essays published over the years.

While she cherishes the classics like Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, and the metaphysical poets of the ages, Baumgartner also enjoys modern writers, such as the late Ursula le Guin, Octavia Butler, Louise Aldrich, and many others. Throughout the discussion, Baumgartner and students frequently gave book recommendations, and talked about the books that have shaped them as individuals. Many of the students’ favorite novels were taught from Ohio Northern English courses. For junior Language Arts Education major MacKenzie Sowers, one of her favorite books is “Copper Sun” by Sharon M. Draper, a novel taught in the Young Adult literature course.

Students in the English department find that the courses taught impact their lives by preparing them for the job market. One of the strongest stigmas with a liberal arts degree is that college students won’t secure a job with their degrees. Baumgartner believes that facts and Census data say otherwise. Not only does the English department have an eighty-nine-percent job placement, but the Language Arts Education majors have a one-hundred-percent job placement.

“You have skills to adapt to new things you are confronted with,” Baumgartner said.

English students at Ohio Northern are equipped with analytical skills, highly effective non-verbal communication skills, how to use rhetoric, and of course, how to write engaging pieces of work.

Baumgartner states that English majors, despite being underestimated, are more prepared than what others may think.

You can do anything. The trick is not to sell your degree, but to sell your skills.

Not only are English majors effective at adapting to the job market, the U.S. census shows that when it comes to income, those with liberal arts degrees have one of the steadiest rises in income.

In the English department at Ohio Northern, students feel prepared for the job market, and they are truly proud to be part of a close-knit group of professors and administrators.

So what makes Ohio Northern’s English department so special
for the students? The faculty and alumni, for starters. Students in the department are treated by the professors in a professional manner, but to a level where they are comfortable in engaging conversation with them. Sophomore Sage Caughenbaugh calls the English staff and students a “little family” for the strong friendships and relationships developed over the years.

“Our investment in you is well beyond the BA degree,” Dowland commented.

ONU English students and faculty learned more about Baumgartner and the logistics behind English degrees. Sigma Tau Delta encourages university staff to sit down with them over tea, coffee, hot chocolate—whatever is best— and talk about their careers and their experiences. University officials can always expect professional, thought-provoking and stimulating questions, along with great book recommendations. his freedom as an artist to voice his opinion and make statements about each issue regardless of what the audience may take away from the exhibit.

“Not all art has a definite meaning, but I think when an artist or a designer has a specific message that they want to send through their piece, I think that’s really great, because I think everyone should find some sort of overall message that they stand for that they could really get across to their audience,” he said. “It’s just important that we have these opinions so that we can talk about them and so they don’t just drift off and nothing is done about it.”

Leave a Reply