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Academics

Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecture Series

The Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecture and Scholar in Residence program was established in 2002 through a generous gift from alumnus Vernon L. Pack, a 1950 graduate of the University. A distinguished lecturer visits campus to address important current issues that will allow the Otterbein community to reflect on ethical, spiritual and social issues. In alternate years, an esteemed scholar is invited to campus to reside for up to one academic year in order to provide an educational enrichment experience for Otterbein students.

2018 Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Lecture: Piper Kerman

The Vernon L. Pack Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence and Lecture Series at Otterbein University is proud to present An Evening with Piper Kerman, Author of “Orange is the New Black” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, in the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St., Westerville. 

The lecture is free and open to the public. Free tickets are available on dates to be announced, at the Cowan Hall box office. The box office is open from 12-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be reached at 614-823-1109.

Piper Kerman’s bestselling memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, chronicles what the author calls her “crucible experience”— the 13 months she spent in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. A brief involvement with the drug trade when she was in her early twenties sent Kerman to prison ten years later on money laundering charges. In her compelling, moving, and often hilarious book, she explores the experience of incarceration and the intersection of her life with the lives of the women she met while in prison: their friendships and families, mental illnesses and substance abuse issues, cliques and codes of behavior. What has stuck with her the most from her experience, Kerman says, is the power of women’s communities, “the incredible ability of women to step up for each other, and to be resilient and to share their resiliency with other people.” The book also raises provocative questions about the state of criminal justice in America, and how incarceration affects individuals and communities throughout the nation.

Kerman’s memoir was adapted into a critically acclaimed Netflix series of the same name by Jenji Kohan. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning show has been called “the best TV show about prison ever made” by The Washington Post, and was lauded by Time’s TV critic James Poniewozik for “the stunningly matter-of-fact way it uses the prison to create one of TV’s most racially and sexually diverse–and as important, complex–dramas [and] contrasts the power and class dynamics inside the prison with those outside the prison." 

Since her release, Kerman has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of prison and criminal justice reform. She works with nonprofits, philanthropies, and other organizations working in the public interest and serves on the board of directors of the Women’s Prison Association and the advisory boards of InsideOUT Writers and JustLeadershipUSA. She has been called as a witness by the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights to testify on solitary confinement and women prisoners, and by the US Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee to testify about the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Kerman has spoken at the White House on re-entry and employment as a Champion of Change, as well as the importance of the arts in prisons and the unique challenges faced by women in the criminal justice system. In 2014 she was awarded the Justice Trailblazer Award from John Jay College’s Center on Media, Crime & Justice and the Constitutional Commentary Award from the Constitution Project. The Equal Justice Initiative recognized her as a Champion of Justice in 2015.

Kerman is a frequent invited speaker to students of law, criminology, gender and women’s studies, sociology, and creative writing, as well as groups including the International Association of Women Judges, the American Correctional Association’s Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Criminal Justice Association, federal probation officers, public defenders, justice reform advocates and volunteers, and formerly and currently incarcerated people.

Kerman is a graduate of Smith College. For the last several years, she has taught writing to incarcerated men and women in Ohio. She lives in Columbus with her family. For more information on Piper Kerman, please visit piperkerman.com.

 

Watch the 2016 lecture by award-winning journalist Amy Goodman,
Role of Independent Media in Promoting Social Change, Peace and Justice.

Previous Lectures

  • 2002 - Doris Kerns Goodwin, acclaimed historian and Pulitzer Prize in history winner for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.

  • 2004 - Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and host of CNN's international affairs program Fareed Zakaria GPS.

  • 2005 - Alan Lightman, noted physicist and critically acclaimed author of Einstein's Dreams.

  • 2008 - Ed Begley, Jr., actor and environmentalist.

  • 2010 – Dee Dee Myers, White House press secretary under President Clinton from 1993-1994, political analyst and commentator, and author of Why Women Should Rule the World. Myers is an expert on the issues facing women in Washington and in leadership positions of all kinds.

  • 2012 – Dr. Steven Pinker, Harvard University professor, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has been listed on TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in The World” and Foreign Policy magazine's list of “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals.”

  • 2014 - Sir Salman Rushdie, one of the most celebrated authors of our time. He penned a handful of classic novels, influenced a generation of writers, and received a Queen’s Knighthood for “services to literature.” He stands as both a pop culture icon and one of the most thought-provoking proponents for free speech today. His novels include Midnight's Children, The Satanic VersesThe Moor's Last SighThe Ground Beneath Her Feet and The Enchantress of Florence.
  • 2016 - Amy Goodman, award-winning investigative journalist, author, and syndicated columnist. She is the host of Democracy Now!, airing on more than 1400 public television and radio stations worldwide.

Distinguished Scholars in Residence

  • 2003 - Dr. Valentine Moghadam, a professor born in Iran, who conducts research regarding development, social change, and gender in the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan.

  • 2005- Lois Raimondo, an internationally-known photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist nominee for her work on the New York City Mitchell Lama housing project for New York Newsday.

  • 2007 - Wande Abimbola, President of the International Congress of Orisa Tradition and Culture, and world-renowned expert on Ifa, a West African sacred divinatory and literary system.

  • 2009 - Dr. Richard Alley, an acclaimed geologist who conducts research on environmental issues including abrupt climate changes, glaciers, ice sheet collapse and sea level change. 

  • 2011 - Harrell Fletcher, renowned visual and conceptual artist and recipient of the 2005 Alpert Award in Visual Arts.

  • 2013 - Dr. Robert Fefferman, acclaimed mathematician in the field of harmonic analysis and its applications to elliptic partial differential equations and its relationship to probability theory. 

  • 2015 – Bonny Norton, Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, Her highly cited book, Identity and Language Learning (2000/2013) has introduced novel conceptions of identity to the field of language education.

  • 2017 – Bryonn Bain, prison reform activist, actor, author, hip hop theater innovator and spoken word poetry champion.

/ Office of Academic Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs is located in Roush Hall, 27 S. Grove St.

Office Hours

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Wendy Sherman Heckler
Interim Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs
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Kathryn Plank
Interim Associate VPAA and Dean of University Programs
Director, Center for Teaching and Learning 
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Jeff Ankrom
Assistant Provost for Strategy and Planning
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Sean McLaughlin
Director of Institutional Research
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Katherine Reichley
Academic Assessment & Accreditation Specialist
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Gretchen Sasfy
Executive Assistant to the Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs
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Kristi North

Administrative Assistant
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e/ knorth@otterbein.edu