Connect: Advancement News from the Arts and Sciences

January 2018

As we head into our eighth year as a unified College of Arts and Sciences, we want to say thank you to our 200,000+ alumni and donors from all around the world.
You are always exploring new ways to give back to your alma mater — whether by sharing your time, expertise or passion, your ongoing support ensures a top-notch education for our students and elevates our world-class faculty and programs.
As always, thank you for your support, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018!


David C. Manderscheid
Executive Dean and Vice Provost

About this publication

We are excited to share this inaugural issue of ASC Connect to bring you new ways to get involved, share your stories and see what’s happening in the College of Arts and Sciences. You’ll be hearing from us regularly, and we want to hear from you, too.
If you'd like to receive more news from the Arts and Sciences, subscribe here!

In this issue:

Top Stories of 2017

In the Arts and Sciences, 2017 was filled with extraordinary accomplishments, leading-edge teaching and research, and impactful philanthropy. Join us in reflecting upon the year’s high points as we gear up for another exceptional year of education and discovery. 

  1. Ohio State Marching Band Drum Majors to Return for 2017 Season
    In April, hundreds of people gathered to watch six students compete in The Ohio State University Marching Band’s drum major tryouts for the 2017 season.
  2. Arts and Sciences Alumna Wins on Jeopardy!
    2006 Arts and Sciences alumna Deborah Elliott racked up a total of $76,400 after winning three straight days of the popular game show Jeopardy!
  3. The World of Harry Potter Comes to Campus
    Scholars, students, artists and families flocked to the Ohio Union in February for the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies’ Popular Culture and the Deep Past conference, which explored all things Harry Potter through lectures, performances, demonstrations and more.
  4. Carter V. Findley Professorship in Ottoman and Turkish History Established
    After a decade-long fundraising effort, the Carter V. Findley Professorship in Ottoman and Turkish History was established in April 2017 to support the field of Ottoman and modern Turkish history, which has been taught at Ohio State since the 1930s.
  5. Faculty, Alumnus Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    Ohio State faculty members Janet Box-Steffensmeier, Russell Fazio and Geoffrey Parker, as well as political science alumnus Carter Phillips, were inducted in 2017 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest academic societies and independent policy research centers.
  6. Observing Our Night Sky Like Never Before
    Ohio State’s All-Sky Automated Search for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) project was supercharged with a $2.4 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, allowing astronomers to have 24/7 surveillance over the entire visible night sky.
  7. Pushing Doubts Aside: Jasmine Whiteside’s Journey to Grad School
    Jasmine Whiteside’s dreams to pursue her master’s degree in sociology at Ohio State had to be put on hold when she was diagnosed with an acute form of brain inflammation. Today, she’s healthy and on track to complete her degree.
  8. CampusParc Looks to Design Students for Ways to Improve Customer Experience
    Instead of hiring an outside design firm, CampusParc asked students in Ohio State’s Department of Design to help them identify ways to improve customer experience.
  9. Ohio State’s Newest Energy Stars
    From converting carbon dioxide into energy-rich compounds to targeting knowledge gaps in microbial methane processes in soil, professors Hannah Shafaat and Kelly Wrighton are advancing high-impact energy research.
  10. Political Science Alumnus is Paying it Back by Paying it Forward
    Political science alumnus Barry Gluck is making a difference in the lives of Ohio State students through the Gluck-Asher Financial Award, which benefits select students in the State Government Internship Program, which is coordinated by the Department of Political Science and Office of Government Affairs.

More 2017 High Points >>

Meet Sherry Chan

Sherry S. Chan, NYC Chief Actuary
BS, mathematics and actuarial science, ’01; Executive MBA, ‘12

Sherry Chan was appointed Chief Actuary for New York City in 2015. In her role as the fifth Chief Actuary in the history of NYC, Chan provides technical expertise to the city’s five retirement systems and pension funds — the Board of Education, teacher, fire, police and public employees — with approximately 750,000 members and $190 billion of assets.  

In her short tenure, Chan has revitalized and digitized the agency, reducing costs, increasing funding, and improving efficiency. As one of the highest ranked Asian-American officials in the administration, Sherry she oversees a $7M budget, certifies the City’s approximate $10B annual pension contribution and signs the actuarial section of all annual reports for the five systems, ensuring accuracy and attesting to the financial soundness of the City's retirement system.

Though dedicated to her career, she enjoys developing other skills outside of the office as a yoga instructor, intermediate golfer, and professional cake decorator. Recently, Chan joined the advisory board for the Department of Mathematics.

Why did you choose Ohio State for your undergraduate and graduate education?

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, so I was a Buckeye even before I went to college. Not only do I believe in supporting my hometown, but I also believe that Ohio State has a wealth to offer. It’s one of the top ROI (return on investment) schools in the country, as has been reported in business publications.

How did you decide upon your undergraduate major (actuarial science)?

I originally wanted to major in astrophysics, marrying my love of math with my love of astronomy, but when I got to the summer orientation right before my freshmen year, I was told that Ohio State did not offer this as an undergraduate major. I declared mathematics as my major and figured it out from there.

During the middle of my freshmen year, I was in the Math Building perusing pamphlets and that’s where I first heard about actuarial science. I very much liked the idea of being able to use my math skills in a business setting, so from then on, I dedicated the rest of my academics to this profession — from adding actuarial science as my second major, to campaigning to be the president of Ohio State’s actuarial club, to securing actuarial internships before graduation. 

Do you have a favorite experience or memory from your time at Ohio State?

First, you’d have to understand that the culture was much more homogenous when I was growing up in Columbus, OH, a few decades ago – and I wasn’t afforded many opportunities to really explore the Asian side of my Asian-American lifestyle. When I got to Ohio State, I took full advantage of this opportunity. I got to know the international students and immersed myself in my heritage. I landed an actuarial internship in Hong Kong the summer between my junior and senior year, and the experience I gained from that translates well beyond the office! Also, the friends I made during this time in my life are some of my best friends to this day. Many of them have returned home, so it’s afforded me some great travel experiences around the world when I visit them.

A specific memorable experience: I took an actuarial math class taught by Richard “Rick” Evans. Toward the end of the quarter, he added up the scores from all of our assignments and wrote corresponding letter grade ranges on the board for our total score. If we were happy with our grade, we could skip the final exam and use this score as our final grade. My total score was toward the bottom of the A range, and I did not want to settle for an A minus, so I opted to take the exam and studied for it the entire weekend. Rick looked perplexed when I walked into the room to sit for the final. I let him know that I was there because I wanted an A and not an A minus, to which he informed me that everyone who was in the A range got an A, with no distinction between. That had never occurred to me! I had poured so many hours into studying that I felt it would be a waste not to take the final, so I did. Luckily, I ended up with an A on the final, or it would have put Rick in the very difficult position of having to lower my grade if I did poorly. Whenever I run into Rick now, he still reminds me that he thought I was crazy to take the final.

As the Chief Actuary for the City of New York, what does your ‘average’ day look like? What is it like to be a young alumna in charge of running these five huge retirement systems?

I report to five retirement systems’ boards of trustees (I have 58 bosses!), and each of these boards have two or three board meetings a month, so a large part of my time is spent preparing for or in board meetings. Between — or during, sometimes — the board meetings, I answer text messages, emails or voicemails from one of my bosses. Otherwise, I’m most likely attending to an issue at the office, as part of my responsibilities include running a City agency that serves the public. After work, it’s not unusual to find me at a work event at City Hall, Gracie Mansion, with one of the unions, or all of the above!

What is it like? It’s tiring – so I guess it’s a good thing I’m young! Kidding aside, it’s what I willingly signed up for, and the high concentration of experience in the few years I’ve been on the job is probably equivalent to decades elsewhere. I’m very passionate about my job, so despite the demanding schedule, I truly do enjoy it because it’s my opportunity help out and be there for all the public servants at the end of their career who have been there for us.

Why did you choose to join the Mathematics Advisory Board? What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the board?

I believe it’s important to give back. I certainly benefited from those that guided me, either directly by serving as a mentor, or indirectly by developing the actuarial curriculum at Ohio State. I feel like it’s my turn to take care of others. If we don’t step up to the plate, the next generation won’t have the same resources that I did and that’s not fair.

As a board member, I hope to, first and foremost, make students aware of and present them with the world’s ‘oysters’ and instill in them that these ‘oysters’ can be theirs. With this as my guiding principle, I hope to elevate the reputation of Ohio State’s Department of Mathematics by equipping them with the resources they need to attain their ‘oysters’ — whether that means more budget dollars, more industry contacts, more relevant curriculum, or something else. 

What advice would you give to today’s students, especially those about to graduate and enter the job market?

If at first you do not succeed, then try, try, and try again! Also, it is worth your while to always continue learning (for example, read more, listen to that webcast, or sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to take!) and meeting new people. Remember that networking is a two-way street. Don’t just expect something from others, but try to offer others something in return as well, so that you become valuable, and perhaps even indispensable. If you think that someone seems light years ahead of you on the career spectrum and that you have nothing to offer, think again! You’d be surprised at how your ideas may spark a refreshing approach and help to solve a problem.

If you want to keep up with Sherry Chan and her agency, follow her on Twitter @NYCActuary.

Learn more about the Mathematics Advisory Board.


Students in The Best Damn Band in the Land (TBDBITL) give 100 percent on and off the field – and now, Ohio State endeavors to provide 100 percent of these students with scholarship support.

The 100% TBDBITL scholarship initiative, launched this past fall, will raise $10 million in endowed scholarship funds so that every member of The Ohio State University Marching Band — now and in the future — will receive financial support. In recognition of the contributions these students make to Ohio State, the university will match the annual distribution on the first $6 million of eligible, endowed gifts made to the campaign. Reaching our goal means that every Marching Band student will receive an annual scholarship of at least $3,000.

Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, no strangers to TBDBITL, are serving as honorary co-chairs of the campaign. They met as Ohio State freshmen on the steps of Mendenhall Laboratory during their first week on campus, and have been married for more than 60 years.

“The Ohio State Marching Band has always been a big part of the university experience. It is among the many aspects of the Ohio State life that we loved when Barbara and I were students and still cherish decades later,” said Jack, who dotted the “i” in Script Ohio in 2006 — one of the few non-band members ever invited to do so. “The students who make up the Ohio State Marching Band work extremely hard, on and off the field, and now we want to be there for them, and we hope others will join us.”

“Starting as teenagers and now as grandparents, we have always loved the fabulous Ohio State band (aka TBDBITL),” said Barbara. “We know that the hard work each band member puts in is a total commitment to perfection. For their dedication to the band, the university, and their education, Jack and I strongly believe that each one of them deserves our help and support.”

Jack and Barbara joined the band at Skull Session — its pregame pep rally — on Oct. 7, 2017, to kick off the campaign over homecoming weekend. After they addressed the crowd, Christopher Hoch, director of Marching and Athletic Bands and an assistant professor in the School of Music, handed each a conducting baton and invited them to lead the band in the fight song, “Across the Field.”

“Jack and Barbara Nicklaus are lifelong Buckeyes and lifelong fans of the Ohio State Marching Band,” said Hoch. “They know how hard our students work on and off the field, and we’re honored that they are helping to lead this campaign.”

With rehearsals at least five days every week, performance obligations nearly every weekend in the fall, and individual practice time, Marching Band is a commitment of 20-30 hours per week — on top of classes and homework. At the same time, band students excel in the classroom, achieving, on average, a higher GPA than their Ohio State peers across a collective 80 majors. This commitment to excellence leaves little time for jobs or paid internships during the autumn semester.

“We can only be The Best Damn Band in the Land if we can recruit and retain the most qualified students — regardless of background or financial situation,” said Hoch. “Participating in the Ohio State Marching Band is a major time commitment, and every Ohio State student with drive, ambition and talent should have the opportunity to be part of it.”

Learn more about the 100% TBDBITL scholarship initiative, and make your gift at

A Celebration of Scholarships

On Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, the College of Arts and Sciences held its inaugural college-wide Celebration of Scholarships. The event brought together — in some cases for the first time — Arts and Sciences students with donors, family members and other supporters of scholarships to share the stories behind the scholarships, learn from and inspire one another.

Thanks to the generosity of those in the room, and others that could not be with us that evening, we are able to attract and support the best and brightest students to the College of Arts and Sciences, while remaining committed to our promise of access and affordability.

Take a look at some of the photos from the fun-filled afternoon, and feel free to save and share your favorites!

If you’re interested in learning more about scholarship funds and endowments in the College of Arts and Sciences, visit

Save the Date: Day of Giving

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Ohio State will celebrate its second annual Day of Giving — an inspiring 24-hour event for alumni, students and friends to come together and support Ohio State. Buckeyes can rally to support their favorite cause, college or program. When Buckeyes come together, great things happen!

Already included the College in your estate plan?

Let us know so we can help you ensure your gift will be used in accordance with your wishes. Plus, you will become a member of the Neil Legacy Society. Learn more here

Upcoming Events

Sunday, Jan. 21

Science Sundays with Rebecca Reczek
Ohio Union, U.S. Bank Conference Theatre

Wednesday, Jan. 24

Arts & Humanities Inaugural Lecture Series: Cynthia Clopper
Faculty Club, ABCD Rooms (2nd Floor)

Friday, Jan. 26

Sports and Society Initiative hosts Lawrence Funderburke
360 Journalism Building

Monday, Jan. 29

Lectures in Musicology: Erin T. Allen
18th Avenue Library, Room 205

Wednesday, Jan. 31

Arts & Humanities Inaugural Lecture Series: Abe Roth
Faculty Club, ABCD Rooms (2nd Floor)