Hidden Gems of Mansfield
Known by many for the individual attention given by its instructors and quality education it offers its students, The Ohio State University at Mansfield may be less identified but no less valued for the hidden gems it features.
The Mansfield campus lies amid 640 acres of woodland, which lends natural environmental attributes to those furthering their education. Most of these jewels are part of ongoing projects, something that ensures they will only gain luster and enhance the experiences of students for generations to come.
As Cindy Wood, Ohio State Mansfield’s director of development, said, “It’s a pretty cool place to be working right now.”
Pearl Conard Art Gallery
Funded in the mid-1980s by a gift from John and Pearl Conard, the Pearl Conard Art Gallery is housed in Ovalwood Hall, where a large wall of windows overlooks a lovely portion of the woodland and watershed that inspires aspiring student artists and others on the campus.
The gallery features art created by international, national and regional artists. In the late spring semester, visitors can enjoy the annual exhibition of Ohio State Mansfield student work, showcasing artwork produced in visual arts courses of the previous year. The gallery features two shows during autumn semester and two shows in the spring.
Its location, appearance and accessibility are assets that enhance the overall cultural climate of the campus, and is a popular stop for visitors, said John Thrasher, associate art professor at Ohio State Mansfield.
Bromfield Library and Information Commons
Renovated in 2013-2014 and reopened in 2014, Bromfield Library and Information Commons includes among its number of offerings a 24-computer lab for library instruction and open computing, a learning collaborative classroom funded by the Richland County Foundation, six new group study rooms, availability of a technology help desk, also known as the BuckeyeBar, and a faculty media center.
The collaborative classroom is designed specifically to allow professors flexibility for collaboration and technology, said Vanessa Kraps, head librarian. All the furniture in the room is on wheels and is easily configurable to typical classroom spaces, boardroom-type setups or as an open space for atypical classroom activities. While the space is normally used for classes, students also are welcome to use the room when there isn’t anything scheduled.
The faculty media center is intended for faculty and staff to use to create multimedia resources to help with their courses or departments. It includes access to a sound studio with a green screen. Ohio State Mansfield faculty and staff are able to make appointments with the library’s information technology department for consultations.
Grant and Mary Milliron Research Wetlands and Classroom
Offering visitors an opportunity to spend some quiet time with nature is the Grant and Mary Milliron Research Wetlands and Classroom outside Riedl Hall, the administration and classroom building constructed in 2005.
The vision of the wetlands and stream system was part of the design of Riedl Hall, providing an opportunity to replace a roadside drainage ditch and low-quality small scrub-shrub wetlands with a robust high-quality 0.58-acre wetlands, new 320-foot stream and 200-foot enhanced wooded stream corridor, said Brian White, planning analyst and project manager at the Mansfield campus.
Using sustainable design techniques, construction of the new classroom building integrated the structure and the surrounding natural campus with the wetlands, and provided an outdoor laboratory for education and research opportunities for the school and community just outside a technology-rich classroom facility. The wetlands also assists with storm water management, controlling flooding and providing water quality filtration for runoff from campus roadway and parking lots.
In 2015, a boardwalk was constructed across the wetland to provide water-level access to the environmental and ecological diversity of the wetlands, improving educational, research and casual public access. An outdoor classroom constructed of stone and cut rock on a hillside overlooking the wetlands fulfilled a much-needed space for science and art classes that use the area and a relaxing place for visitors.
The research wetlands and outdoor classroom were made possible by Richland County philanthropist and environmentalist Grant Milliron.
“As the original project manager, it has been a joy to watch the wetlands use grow over the years,” White said.
Located along University Drive across from the entrances of Ovalwood Hall, Conard Hall and Eisenhower Memorial Center, the Monarch Right-of-Way: A Pollinator Demonstration Plot is part of the First Energy utility right-of-way that runs across the campus.
Seeded in 2015, it is home to four different plantings of native wildflowers, and its purpose is to provide food and homes to pollinators, as well as keep transmission lines free of tall vegetation and ensure safe, dependable electrical service to Ohioans.
A growing priority for public and private land managers is providing habitat for pollinators. Also, the monarch butterfly population has experienced sharp declines in recent years and needs habitat to sustain its migrations.
In addition to a virburnum leaf beetle test plot, the Monarch Right-of-Way includes plantings of Ohio Prairie Nursery Eastern Great Lakes Native Pollinator Mix, which is to give food for all pollinators throughout the growing season; Ohio Prairie Nursery Fall Pollinator Mix, a mix of nectar-producing plants, primarily those that bloom later in summer to propel the monarch migration; Ohio Prairie Nursery Rain Garden Native Seed Mix, whose flowers, sedges and other wet-soil-friendly plants are popular with pollinators; and Ohio Prairie Nursery Ohio Pollinator Oasis Native Seed Mix, designed with the Ohio State Beekeepers Association.
A microfarm located in a parking lot on the west side of the campus is the start of a project whose economic and healthful benefits will spread throughout the Mansfield area if Kent “Kip” Curtis’ ambitious plans come to fruition. The assistant professor of environmental history introduced the concept at Ohio State Mansfield, and independent study participants designed and helped build the farm, which includes two high tunnels, or hoop houses, which house raised plant beds, and several outside plant beds on a one-third-acre lot. Construction was completed this past fall.
Curtis’ immediate objective for the microfarm is to extend the growing season, but ultimately he hopes the project serves as a model for urban agriculture, which could be reproduced throughout the area, producing sufficient niche crops to make such microfarms sustainable economic drivers in Mansfield and neighboring communities.
The project was made possible by $100,000 in funding provided by Ohio State’s Office of Energy and Environment. While, currently, one independent study student, eight interns and a number of student volunteers maintain the farm, others are encouraged to join in their efforts to positively impact the community’s economic and physical well-being.