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Degree talk, books, and tea with President DiBiasio

Students and English professors have tea with President Daniel DiBiasio. (Northern Review photo/Dominic Turnea)

It’s not everyday a university president sits down to have a discussion with students, all while drinking tea and sharing personal experiences.  On October 17, Ohio Northern University’s chapter of the national English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta, and additional English students had tea with President Dan DiBiasio in the Heterick Memorial Library. Along with many ONU students, professors Douglas Dowland and Lisa Robeson joined the conversation.

The discussion focused on how DiBiasio utilizes his English degree in his career as a university president. As an English major, there are many unknown benefits and career opportunities surrounding the degree. 

Behind the English degree there is a stigma: An English degree means you can be a writer or a teacher. However, DiBiasio discussed that acquiring an English major can utilize an individual with a variety of skills—skills that have helped him become an effective university president. 

For DiBiasio, the skills acquired from an English degree have helped him in identifying context, critically thinking, and identifying more about the past.

There is a value to studying literature. Even though there are things said hundreds of years ago, it’s still relevant,” DiBiasio said. 

DiBiasio’s passion for literature began with studying authors, including Brown and Tennyson, and classical works such as “Ulysses” and “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Within these works he learned to exceed his grasp, go beyond the expectations while looking at situations at a different and critically-thought approach. As a university president, it’s crucial to be a critical thinker. 

Critical thinking and creative thinking are very different, yet equally important for anyone to have, regardless of what major. Robeson explained that science and math departments rely heavily on the critical thinkers.

“For the highest level of science and math, you need to have an imagination,” Robeson said. 

Along with critical thinking, English majors can recognize keen voices and can use their own voices to reach out to their community. Whether a political science major, aspiring minister, lawyer, or even a musical theatre major, one needs to have a clear and powerful voice in their profession, one that is easily distinguishable. 

Students shared their own aspirations with their future English degrees, and even admired DiBiasio’s willingness to have tea with them. Dowland, the advisor for Sigma Tau Delta, expressed his gratitude with DiBiasio’s ability to work and interact with students.

Here at Sigma Tau Delta there is a university president who is very student-centered, who’s not really only student-centered, but one of us,” said Dowland. 

Despite being very busy with other matters, DiBiasio still makes time to simply sit down and read a good book every now and then. During the discussion, DiBiasio revealed that in terms of books, he is currently reading Candice Millard’s “Hero of the Empire: The Making of Winston Churchill."

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