Almost Famous: Thomas Lyon Hamer, The Man Who Literally Made Ulysses S. Grant

220px-ThomasLHamerVery few people today would recognize the name, “Thomas Lyon Hamer” due to the mere whim of fate. His name should be in all U.S. History textbooks. He should be famous. Brown County, Ohio should have statues and plaques dedicated to him. He even resides eternally in the old cemetery in Georgetown, Ohio; few even here know anything about the man. Some of his descendants still live in the area. Hamer Road in Georgetown is named for him, as is Hamersville, just east of Georgetown. Why could someone who was so important at both the state and national level in the mid 1800’s be so unknown today?

Thomas Lyon Hamer was born in July of 1800, in Northumberland,Pennsylvania. His family moved to Ohio in 1817. Hamer, just 17 years old, then struck out on his own. In what is now Clermont County, Ohio, he began working as a teacher at subscription schools….what could best be explained as tiny private colleges, in modern parlance. While teaching in Bethel, Ohio, Hamer lived with Thomas Morris, an important abolitionist lawyer (and later U.S. Senator). Hamer studied under Morris, became an attorney, and moved to Georgetown, Ohio, the new county seat of Brown County, Ohio. In 1821, he would soon meet another recent arrival to Georgetown: Jesse Root Grant (father of Hiram Ulysses Grant, who would lead the Union Armies to victory in the Civil War and become the 18th President of the United States). Hamer and the elder Grant would become good friends and travel in the same social circles. Hamer had serious political ambitions, as an Andrew Jackson Democrat. At the age of 25, he was elected to the Ohio Legislature. At the age of 29, he was unanimously elected to be the Speaker of the Ohio House. He then proceeded to get elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He did well, if unassuming service there, but made one enemy: Jesse Root Grant. Jesse took exception to Hamer supporting most of President Andrew Jackson’s fiscal policies and very loudly renounced his friendship with Hamer. The elder Grant would eventually rue his temper getting the better of him. A few years later, Bart Bailey, whose family lived just up the street from the Grants, flunked out of West Point. Jesse was no fool; this provided an opportunity for him to get a FREE college education for his oldest son, Hiram Ulysses Grant, who was a year younger than Bart Bailey. The only problem was that he had to go through FORMER friend, and Congressman, Thomas Lyon Hamer. Jesse finally swallowed his pride, and wrote to Hamer, who quickly agreed to make the appointment, patching up the friendship.

There was just one problem: if Hamer had ever known the younger Grant’s full name, he had forgotten it over the years in which the two families had not spoken. Jesse’s oldest son was actually named Hiram Ulysses Grant. Hamer thought his name must be Ulysses Simpson Grant, and made the appointment, as such. Thus, Hamer CREATED the legendary propaganda initials of U.S. or “Unconditional Surrender’ Grant. These would be perfect for a Union general who could actually win battles during the U.S. Civil War. Thus, Hamer literally made the famous “ U.S. Grant!”

But what of Hamer, himself? When the Mexican War broke out in 1846, Hamer quickly volunteered for service as a private in the 1st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Within a month, he had been promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers, by his old Congressional friend, James Polk, now President of the United States. At the Battle of Monterrey in September of 1846, Hamer commanded the 3rd division of the U.S Army. His forces were the first to break into the fortified Mexican city, and first to raise the Stars and Stripes there. That flag had been given to him by the citizens of Brown County, Ohio and was the FIRST U.S. flag to fly over Mexican territory in the entire war. That flag, while badly worn with age, still resides in Georgetown, Ohio.

Hamer was reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives while off fighting in Mexico. Sadly, he died of yellow fever, while the army was resting and refitting outside Monterrey, on December 2, 1846. After a military funeral and burial in Mexico, his body was ultimately returned to Georgetown, and a massive funeral was held for him in February of 1847. Hamer’s accidental creation, U.S. Grant, would later write in his 1885 memoirs, that Hamer would have likely become President of the United States, in 1852, if he had lived. My own research, for my pending book on Hamer, agrees. Fate is fickle…and it drastically changed U.S. history.

-Lonnie Griffith, History Instructor


Ways of Giving to Chatfield College:

IMG_1985If you are like me,  you are receiving solicitations from several non-profit  organizations daily.  I have gone so far as to sort my mail by the recycling bin.   I wanted to let you know of several  ways that you can support our students at Chatfield College through your daily purchases.

Chatfield College  participates in the Kroger Community Rewards Program. Last Quarter (February through April)  19 households supported Chatfield College through the Kroger Community Rewards Program bringing a total donation back to Chatfield College of $141.  That is an average gift of $7.42 per household.  If we multiple this by four that is an annual gift of $29 per household.  If you have not done so already please consider joining this program and making Chatfield your charity of choice.

There is no cost to you to join and it is very easy.  Just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Kroger Community Rewards:
  2. 1. Visit
  3. 2. Sign in to your online account or create a new account. You can do this with your alternate ID (your phone number) if you do not have your card with you.
  4. 3. Find and select Chatfield as your organization and click enroll.

Please note that you have to renew your choice annually in April, and your fuel points or other discounts will not be adversely affected.

Amazon Smile:
We have the same opportunity with  Amazon.  If you shop at Amazon,  please consider making Chatfield College your charity of choice.  Follow the easy instructions below.

  1. 1. Go to and sign in or create an account.
  2. 2. Choose Chatfield College as your charity of choice.
  3. 3. Purchase items from Amazon and Chatfield College receives .05% of every purchase.

In addition to these immediate rewards, you have the option of making an annual or planned gift to our students.  Annual gifts are always appreciated and go to support the immediate financial needs of our students. You also have the option to contribute to one of our 28 endowed scholarships.

Planned gifts or estate gifts are used to help finance long term projects.  Please note that you do not have to be a millionaire to make a huge difference in the lives of our students with a planned gift.  Another simple way to donate to Chatfield is to include the college in your estate plans and announcements. This can go a long way to helping our students break the cycle of generational poverty through education .  For more information about planned  giving  please contact Jim Ludwig and I will be more than happy to meet with you on an individual basis.

Visit our “Give” page to find an option that best fits you.

Thank you for all that you do to help better the lives of our students and their families.

First Generation, Part 2

bob2It wasn’t long before I began contemplating the next rung in the ladder of emancipation from ignorance. I found an acceptable online school, part of the Kansas State university system, and began pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Three years passed, which garnered experience in my somewhat “chosen” field, in addition to a Bachelor of General Studies in Human Services degree. The wife, have I mentioned her, said, “You’re done, no more school”. She didn’t have to hit me in the head twice, or so I thought. Before I carry on and on, none of this would have been possible without the angel I call my wife. I feel bad for her because I got the long straw on the deal.

I laid dormant in the fallow education field for a year, but near the end of that year, my brain got itchy again, and there must only be one way to scratch a brain. Against my lovely wife’s wishes, I found a master’s program to which I was accepted, and began pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies in Humanities. Graduate work consisted of history and english. I think graduate school was as difficult as raising kids.  We’re on our 38th year of that, so I think I’m qualified to describe difficult. It didn’t seem to become terribly difficult until the final six months.

daughter1 Unbelievably, I did graduate and the culmination of ten years was life-changing. An extra bonus, of which I hope I am not unduly grabbing credit, followed. Our youngest daughter received an associate degree—a highly proud moment for her and for me. She has since embarked on a career away from her major, but I know she is a better person for having achieved that
hard-earned degree. College may or may not be easier to complete straight out of high school, I will never know.  Neither will my daughter. Finally, well, the most recent addition to college graduates and as close to high school completion then college as of yet, is our oldest granddaughter. She attended college as a PSEO, graduated high school, and completed an associate degree just this past May. Grandpa completed her FAFSA and applications for continuation towards a bachelor degree. While our daughter and granddaughter won’t be able to wear the moniker of “first generation” college graduate (because I stole it out from under them), I feel as much pride and accomplishment in their success as I did when I completed my postsecondary work.daughter2

Lessons learned: there’s more to life than a frickin football game, you’re never too old to change everything and start a new life, and there’s no limit to what we can achieve if we have no idea what we are doing and why we are doing it. Be the one to set your family on the path to a new future.


First Generation, Part 1

bob1“First generation” can have assorted connotations. For this blogther (blog blather) it pertains to college student, which is appropriate to Chatfield College, don’t you know.

Imagine this guy going to college for a minute? Go ahead, I’ll wait.  I, my mother, countless assorted acquaintances, and anyone who knows me, still find my life path surprising…but more about that later.

In 1973, the word “college” did not exist in our vocabulary. I come from a line of factory workers—that’s what we did. I still have a brother employed as such. Not long after I posed for this picture in my brother’s borrowed suit jacket, I gave a friend a ride to work on a certain Saturday, to a factory. On that day, I was offered a job- which I accepted- and stayed for thirty years and nine months. In the end, I was cordially invited to vacate (in retrospect one of best things that ever happened). In those days, it was common to get married, have kids, and stay at the same job for life, end of story. At that age, life seemed an invisible inevitable journey, too long for me to contemplate, if even at all. I now consider life an illusion of preposterous proportions.

I began as an assembler, assembling the product my department produced – electronic air cleaners. For the first few years, I was content in the role and in time, I moved up to department lead. After a few more years, I was fortunate to move to the maintenance department, a highly coveted position, and I was given the opportunity to make more money, and more importantly, to gain more knowledge. Nearing my 28th year, and after the business was acquired from the original owners by a holding company- which I will refer to as a faceless corporation- I was sentenced to mandatory education. I was 47 years old at the time. By then, the six person maintenance department had been pared to two, my coworker and I. We were required by management to take turns attending a community and technical college program, Industrial Electrical Maintenance. My co-worker took the first session; I went kicking and screaming (on the inside) after his return. The program lasted ten weeks, five days per week, eight hours per day. Upon arrival, I was introduced to the main instructor, Jack, an older gentleman who taught for a living and earned degrees for fun. Jack was a personable fellow and it didn’t take long to share our respective life stories. After the first two days I realized, as the famous Sam Wyche once said, “there’s more to life than a frickin’ football game.” (I heard him say this on television, although there’s no attributed record of him ever saying it, and it still makes all the sense in the world to me.) Jack took the fear away and replaced it with curiosity, interest, and fun, all hand sown with an optional future. Jack put a bug in my ear, “you need to get out of this kind of work, it’ll kill ya.”

Short story long, I excelled at the program and aced it all. After all, I had done that work for over thirty years. I’m thinking that faceless corporation didn’t want to be responsible if I killed myself or somebody else.  When I returned to my job, I lobbied the HR department to grease up the tuition reimbursement machine.

“We’ve never had anyone do that,” they said.

“Well we’re gonna do it now,” I said.

I started shopping for the most likely (i.e. cheap) school I could find, found one and started part time. For the next three years, I drove one hundred miles two to three days per week including work and school. Work paid 75 percent tuition if I received B’s or better, which I did, except for algebra.  I only earned two C’s in college and one, the first one, was Beginning Algebra. Fortunately for me, I came in under the wire before the state upped math requirements. Choosing degrees with no additional math requirement was an important criterion for me. Apparently, Agriculture Production, my choice for schooling, wasn’t on the list of acceptable concentrations my employer would pay for. When they realized my goal, they borrowed one of my monkey wrenches and thrust it into the whole college machine thing I had going on. Reluctantly, I switched to Electrical Engineering Technology, against my will and better judgment.

The summer of 2004 brought our two oldest grandchildren, a boy 4, and girl 8, into our home to live. That Christmas, my job invited me to leave – remember that from earlier? Funny thing…I had all my core education paid for by then. In February 2005, while collecting unemployment for the first time in my life, I was fortunate to be hired by Chatfield College as a part time janitor. I perceived that God had long ago set things in motion (history is always written later). After a couple of weeks, I was told that when my unemployment ran out, I would be hired on as Director of Physical Plant, which did happen. I wanted to go to college, so working at a college was a God-send.

bob2Fast forward two years and I had earned an AA in Human Services, and saw a new career launch that was four years in the making. I should explain that the Human Services decision was a process of elimination. Concentration choices were Business (I wanted nothing to do with that), Early Childhood Development (same thing), Transfer Module (I had no idea what that was), and Human Services (it sounded interesting). I went from fixing things to trying to fix people. (Just a hint…things are much easier to fix.) I began working with “at-risk” youth in an adjoining county. Our goal was to help young people piece their lives together, threading broken or abandoned education attempts, work skills, and wayward paths, into jobs to become successful.


Join me soon for the next installment of blogther



“The Last Pale Light in the East”

M Smith headshotSitting in Saint Joseph’s a few weeks ago, I could not but help suffer from several conflicting emotions. There was pride, of course, for my friends that were left at Chatfield when I graduated and were now celebrating their own graduation. There was also a sense of longing, a call back, perhaps, to my own time at Chatfield, when times were simpler and education less about publication and more about the joy of learning. Above all else, however, a sense of sadness came over me, as I realized just how busy my life had become, and how I was going to have to make certain sacrifices in order to continue my professional pursuits.

It’s been a busy year. Between short stories, polemic essays, a full-length history book, a novel, and several poems, I have sent more work to press than I care to forget. On top of that, I’ve taken up the study of two languages (French and Hindi) all while learning several others (Latin, Greek, Dutch, and German, just to name a few) in the course of my transcription work. I’ve taken nine Ivy League courses, and have done well enough to not only earn a trip to study for the summer at Kings College in London, but also for the University of Pennsylvania to allow me to submatriculate. If all goes to plan, I will leave Penn with not only a Bachelor’s degree, but also a Master’s degree, when I depart a year from now.

Unfortunately, in order to do this, I have to make some sacrifices. My contributions to this blog is one of those sacrifices. Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging for Chatfield. When I started this wacky academic journey of mine two years ago, I could not have begun to envision the success I would have, and it all started at Chatfield. The bucolic campus of Saint Martin offered me a quite refuge in which to pursue my academic glory, and, without that jumping off point, I’m not sure that I would be where I am today.

My studies, and my work, however, are demanding. They require the full of my focus and attention, and I fear that, in giving that to them, I will deprive this blog of the attention and effort it deserves. Besides, I have full faith and confidence that others in the Chatfield community will be able to provide this forum with the attention and effort that it deserves.

However, that is not to say that I am forgetting about my fellow students. Far from it, in fact. I would love to see my fellow alums move on to the schools of their dreams, whether that be in the Ivy League (Penn) or in the Big Ten (Penn State), or any school in between. In this spirit, I have made a Google Form, that anyone can feel free to fill out with their contact information. Feel free to reach out to me, and I will help you in any way that I can! (The form can be found HERE.)

Reach for the stars, comrades. You’re a graduate from the finest private two-year institution that Ohio has to offer. TO CHATFIELD!

  • Martin Smith

Chatfield Class of 2015

High School Juniors and Seniors Have (Mostly) Big Plans


IMG_1656This past spring I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a “speed networking” program at several Clermont County High Schools. This venture, put together by the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, connected area high school juniors and seniors with more than fifty business leaders in a series of quick – seven minute- encounters. Teams of three or four students rotated among individuals set up in school gyms or cafeterias to discuss job readiness and career options.

It was a great way for me to learn about the ideas today’s high school students have about their future plans, whether they be in the workforce or perhaps in a trade school or traditional college. I was even able to meet some students enrolled in Chatfield for the summer or fall! Not only was that exciting, but it shows how much the Chatfield brand has grown and our reputation as a great place for college has stretched beyond Brown County into neighboring communities. Clearly, Clermont County residents (as well as those from Clinton, Adams, Hamilton and Highland Counties) now see Chatfield as a welcoming and supportive option for higher education, and ultimately a better job with more potential for future earnings over a lifetime.

I was impressed with all of the student I met. In total, there were probably 150 or more! Of course, with these early morning meetings, some were more engaged than others, and the yawns I encountered I quickly attributed to late-night activities the night before, as opposed to a boring presentation on my part. Nevertheless, we made it through, and I was able to share some of my experiences as a student, lawyer, business person, and now as someone blessed to be involved in higher education.

What I learned from them is that some have a good idea of what they want to do, while others do not. That is okay! Many had college plans already set, and were anxious to get going with classes at UC, Xavier, NKU, or Chatfield. Others had jobs already lined up, in family businesses, or in places they were currently working, part time, as high school students.

I gave each the same advice: to work hard at whatever they choose to do; stick with it for at least a year, even if conditions are challenging; and keep all options open, because you never know what opportunities will arise. At Chatfield, we often say “Big Dreams Come True Here”. I believe that, and whenever I can, I urge young (and not so young) people to dream big, and strive to make those

The only disappointment I experienced was hearing from too many students that college was not an option for them, because either their grades were too low in high school, or they lacked the ability to pay. At Chatfield, we fully understand that college may not be the best choice for everyone. BUT, and this is a big, huge BUT, less-than- stellar high school grades and/or having little or no funding availability are not reasons to dismiss college as a viable option.

Chatfield is a place of second (and sometimes third, fourth or fifth) chances. As an open-enrollment college, your high school diploma or GED will assure your acceptance. If you are not college-ready, we have developmental classes that will help you get ready.

Financial Aid, in the form of grants (which you do not need to repay), loans (which you will), and work-study opportunities abound. In fact, Chatfield is fortunate to have many generous and supportive friends who have offered financial support for those who need it in order to attend. Our 27 endowed scholarships are exclusive to Chatfield, and available nowhere else.

So if you’ve been told you are not smart enough to attend college, or it takes a lot of money to continue your education beyond high school – you have been done an incredible disservice. Get on line and check us out, or better yet come and make a visit. We will do our best to help you achieve a better future here.

-John Tafaro, President

Chatfield College Holds 45th Commencement Exercises

IMG_1834Chatfield College held its 45th commencement exercises on Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m., honoring 74 graduates at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cincinnati, OH.

The ceremony included students from Chatfield’s campuses in St. Martin and Over-the-Rhine who either completed the requirements for graduation or will complete the requirements during the summer session.

Two graduates, Mariah Powell from the St. Martin Campus and Emily Scott from the Over-the-Rhine Campus, were given Julia Chatfield Distinguished Student Awards.  This award is designed to recognize a graduate at each campus based on nominations submitted by the faculty and staff.  Besides a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, the student must exhibit the determination of Julia Chatfield by turning obstacles into opportunities, is friendly, inclusive and supportive in dealing with others and displays leadership qualities.IMG_1644

Reverend David Long ’96, gave the commencement address and was presented with the Chatfield’s Dean Agatha Fitzgerald, OSU Excellence in Teaching Award.  This award is given each year to an instructor who exemplifies the academic spirit and values of Chatfield College.

Reverend Long received his Associate of Arts from Chatfield College in 1976 and his Bachelor of Arts from Wilmington College, Cum Laude, in 1978. He went on to receive a Master of Divinity Degree in 1982 from Asbury Theological Seminary. He was ordained in the United Methodist Church in 1982 and received a commission into the United States Army in 1986.

Reverend Long was invited to teach at Chatfield in 2011, where over 40 years earlier he had begun to follow his dream, and has since served as an Adjunct Instructor of Religion and Philosophy at the St. Martin campus.

IMG_1619Reverend Long served four different Churches in Ohio over a 30 year period. During a four year period of that time he was chosen as Mission Chairperson to educate over 1000 Ohio Churches to support various Emergency Relief and Outreach Programs. This involved visiting over 10 different Countries, numerous US inner city ministries and Appalachian poverty programs.

As an Army Reserve Chaplain, he volunteered to serve in 1990-1991 as an Active Duty Battalion Chaplain during Operation Desert Shield Desert Storm. During his deployment he provided religious support to over 1600 troops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. During combat Long was called to support a mortuary unit during the February 1991 Scud missile attack in Dhahran which killed more than 27 soldiers and wounded more than 100. During the post war time period he helped reestablish contact with the Kuwait Christian Churches and organized food relief to many of the refugees in the country and was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions.

In 2003, Long was called to serve again on active duty as a Special Operations Forces – Civil Affairs Officer in the Green Zone, in Baghdad, Iraq.  While serving on the Civil Affairs General Staff, he was selected to serve as the Interim Iraqi Government minister responsible to rebuild the Youth Sport Programs and to reestablish the Iraqi Olympic Program with the International Olympic Committee.  LTC Long also worked with the Higher Education Ministry helping to reestablish US Fulbright Scholarships. He also met with both Christian and Muslim leaders in Iraq to establish an ongoing dialogue. He was awarded his second Bronze Star for his meritorious actions during this campaign.

Reverend Long retired from the Military in 2007 and returned to his hometown of Mt Orab, Ohio, IMG_2098where he lives with his wife, Roberta.  Besides teaching at Chatfield, he enjoys restoring old cars and working on his family genealogy. He continues to serve in his community and works weekly with the disabled.

Chatfield was also pleased to have three commencement legacy stories within the Class of 2016:  Aluara Meeker and her mother, Kimberly Fisher ’03, who is also a Chatfield faculty member; Holly Pegan and her mother, Dawnita Pegan ’03 and Olivia Morgan, who is the fourth in her family to graduate from Chatfield, following Ethan ’07, Everett ’10, and Avery ’13.

IMG_1451    38b8de1b-259b-415b-8fd9-ea4720a8c5f3

If you missed the ceremony. you can watch it here.

College is Affordable and YOU Can Make it Happen!

IMG_0582Invest in your college tuition while you are in high school – As soon as they are able, most teenagers should be looking forward to working, and making money for their own benefit.  At this time, students are about two to three years away from attending college, and have the opportunity to save money towards their higher education. To be prepared, students can save as little as $15 from each paycheck and put it into a high school savings account. Saving $15 a week is feasible, and by the time the student is ready for college in three years, $1100+ can be saved. This amount may not seem like a lot, but it will help pay for books for a few semesters.

Buy your books from a 3rd party vendor – University and college book stores will always sell their books at a higher cost. Instead of purchasing books in the campus bookstore, use a 3rd party vendor such as Amazon. Simply look up the SKU number that correlates with the class and purchase it at a cheaper cost. Used books are also another alternative, and some colleges have a community posting site online where students can communicate with each other about books they may have for resale.

Go to a college with a regional accreditation – There are thousands of universities and colleges located throughout the USA, and it can be confusing as to where students can transfer their credits without being penalized. When applying, locate the page that has the “Higher Learning Commission” seal and find out what accreditation the school carries. Students should be looking for “regional accreditation” rather than “national accreditation.”

Attending a 2 year college or university has plenty of financial benefits – For students who are uncertain about what they want to study, a two year associate degree program, like Chatfield College,  can help. When a student enrolls in college for the first time, the first and second year will be dedicated to general study classes such as Math 101, English 101, and Public Speaking.  During this time, students can take electives and discover if the path they are on really fits their interests. Some students realize that what they thought they wanted to major in, is not, in fact, where their true interests lie. It is better to come to this realization early on, while attending a more affordable two year college, than making costly changes at a more expensive university.

Be smart with your financial aid money – In 2013, 70% of all college students took out a loan in order to enroll in college. With rising costs of tuition and interest rates each year, it is important to spend the “free money” received from the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) wisely.  Some first time students receiving financial aid choose to spend the money on non-school related things because the money is available. Financial aid is not unlimited, and can be used up in a few semesters if it is not budgeted wisely.  Defaulted loans and a balance owed to the institution will cause delays in completing a degree.  Taking out loans can be expensive so carefully monitoring your financial aid is extremely important.  Students who constantly drop classes, but keep their financial aid funds, soon run out of options and have to take out private loans, which have higher interest.

Scholarships and grants – This is the easiest way for students to earn money towards their degree because they do not have to be paid back. When applying for school, find information on the school’s scholarship deadline. Also, research and find out if any grants are available. Even if the scholarship is only worth $400, it will help fund a semester of books.

Ohio high school students can take advantage of College Credit Plus (CCP) – CCP is a new program that was established by the State of Ohio. Students who are in 7th-12th grade are eligible to take college level courses for credit while still in high school. This program is paid for by the state, as long as the student passes the class. If the student fails the class, then the student will be billed by the school district for the course that they failed. Students are able to take up to 30 credit hours per academic year, which includes summer, and could be close to earning their associate degree by the time they graduate high school. This is a potential savings of thousands of dollars. Prospective students take a placement test or supply ACT scores to be eligible for the CCP option.

In-state tuition is always cheaper than out-of-state tuition – In-state tuition is always cheaper than attending college out of state. Unless the student is receiving scholarships to attend an out-of-state school, tuition can almost be twice the amount per year. Students should look into options such as attending a two year school to gain their general education credits and transfer to a four year program that offers tuition reciprocity, or other discounted rates.

Decision to commute or live on campus – This can be a large factor when it comes to saving money. If a student commutes to college, they will save money by avoiding room and board, meal plans and other costs included in living on campus. On the other hand, living on campus can be highly beneficial because a student has the opportunity to grow within the support system of the campus. As a 19 year old living on campus, life and school moves quickly, but at the same time, many important lessons can be learned. When I was a student, I lived on campus and started my own business, a business I still run today. I was an entrepreneur as a sophomore in college, and I was able to market my product to all the students on campus for free because we were able to discuss strategies in class. There, I was able to gain insight on what would benefit my business going forward. The same can be said for Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who started Microsoft and Facebook while attending college and getting help from other students/colleagues.

Stick to the plan- Higher education can be intimidating because of the cost, but it doesn’t have to be. Create an exit strategy and a time table to determine how long it will take to complete a degree. Try to stick to the time frame and budget. Use the resources available on campus, like free tutoring services and study groups. Live at home and pack a lunch.

I tell every student that walks through my door that their education is very important in regard to their future. With an associate degree, students are able to obtain an entry level job in their field, while bachelor degree recipients can find a lucrative career with advancement opportunities. I promise you, two to four years will be over quicker that you can say “I earned my associate degree from Chatfield College!”


Good Luck,

Drew Donkin, Admissions Counselor


Reaccreditation at Chatfield

This fall, Chatfield College will undergo a site visit and review in order to maintain our accreditation. Although the College has been regionally accredited with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1971, it must periodically renew its accreditation to address changes within higher education and to confirm our continued commitment to providing a high quality education. Our most recent reaccreditation was in 2011.

Accreditation is the process by which colleges and universities demonstrate that their programs, course offerings, instructors, student services, and facilities, all meet accepted standards for quality within higher education. The process is made up of several steps that include a peer review, and an assurance argument. The assurance argument is a lengthy document that describes how the college meets standards for accreditation and offers evidence for on-going improvement and self-study. The peer review is made up of a team of educators and administrators from other colleges who compare what was written in the assurance argument with what takes place at the school. Peer reviewers will make a visit at the end of October this year to both the Over-the-Rhine and Brown County locations. They will talk to students, faculty, and staff, and observe classes and other activities throughout the day.

Although the criteria for accreditation have been recently revised, the accreditation process is nothing new. The first accrediting body was established in 1900. Initially, its purpose was to help colleges compare courses and identify which credits could be accepted for transfer. Accreditation still serves this function, allowing students to easily transfer credits between qualified institutions and complete their degree. As a college education became more desirable and accessible, the number of new schools continued to grow. While the role of higher education expanded, accrediting organizations became progressively concerned with setting common standards for quality. The increase of for-profit colleges and degree-mills in recent years underscores the need for common standards and an external review process in higher education. The degree a student earns needs to be a consistent and accurate reflection of the skills and knowledge they acquired in the course of their studies. By maintaining accreditation, colleges and universities make it possible for their students’ degrees to be taken seriously by employers, other institutions of higher learning, and the United States Department of Education (USDE).

The USDE relies on the decisions of independent non-profit accrediting commissions, like HLC, to determine which schools offer a high quality education. Only accredited schools are eligible to receive federal student aid funds in payment for student tuition. A student can qualify for Pell grants, or direct loans from the government, but they can only spend this money at schools that the government considers to be worth the expense. Accreditation then, is a process which not only gives value to the institution and the degrees they award, but also provides financial opportunities for students wishing to attend college.

As October approaches, you may be asked to participate in the accreditation process. If you work at or attend Chatfield, you may already be involved and not even know it! For instance, students and faculty are already familiar with course evaluations. These are one way in which the College engages in a continuous review of quality in individual course sections. Faculty also participates in surveys each term to identify strengths and innovations in teaching. Staff and even board members participate in meetings intended to review and evaluate curriculum and student programming. Right now, there is another opportunity to participate in the accreditation process. You can submit comments directly to the HLC through the Higher Learning Commission’s homepage. The information you offer can help HLC and Chatfield better understand how to serve your needs and the needs of our community.



Chatfield Admissions Counselors: Going Above and Beyond to Reach Those in Need

IMG_0568When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them I am an admissions counselor at Chatfield College. Of course, the next question is usually: what do you do? The quick answer is that the admissions team talks to prospective students about the enrollment process, and helps them make decisions about college that meet their current and future needs. That description sounds simple, but our job is much more than making phone calls and setting appointments for campus tours.

When I started my job at Chatfield, I was already a volunteer with the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, a carry-over from my days working for a newspaper. The Work Readiness Initiative program in Clermont County has a mission to reach high school students to prepare them for the workplace. This came about because local businesses were becoming concerned about the lack of “soft skills” in the applicants they were interviewing for job positions.

One of the great things about being in admissions at Chatfield is the flexibility our team has in fulfilling our job requirements. When I was hired, I knew immediately that my volunteer role with the Chamber would be right in line with one of our team’s work obligations: visiting the local high schools and meeting the students, guidance counselors, and staff.  Building a good relationship with the high schools would be easier since I had met a lot of the College and Career Readiness counselors while volunteering.

The Work Readiness Initiative was developed to reach students with classroom presentations, in collaboration with the teacher, and consists of several weeks of facilitating a course in job and career readiness. Some high schools have a designated time, once a week, in which students go through the course with a group of volunteers from the business community. Each week, a different topic is introduced that expands on the prior week’s session. Topics include: Attitude, Diversity and Respect, Interviewing Skills, Resume Writing, Personal Hygiene and Appearance, Drug and Alcohol Awareness, and others.

I like to facilitate the Diversity and Respect piece as I have had the great fortune to have grown up in a rural area in Brown County, Ohio, and to have lived in several neighborhoods in Cincinnati over a 15 year span. Also, I feel that I can relate to this topic because we have a wonderfully diverse body of people who attend and work at Chatfield College. I feel very strongly that students in high school- who may have had limited experience with groups outside the area where they have grown up- can benefit from meeting others who have experienced a different way of life, and people of other cultures. All of the admissions counselors at Chatfield have different and unique backgrounds, which makes for an interesting collaboration.

Another way that I and my co-workers volunteer is through mentoring. The mentoring sessions are one-on-one with a student who has volunteered to meet with a mentor twice a month for the school year. The agreement can be renewed for consecutive years until the student graduates. During the mentoring sessions we talk about anything that is important to the student. This can include personal issues, grades, driving, ACT testing, jobs, family, friends and more. The point is to be available to the mentee and to be a good role model. I like to start by asking school related questions, then move on to other areas of interest. I always tell my mentee that I am not going to try to tell her what to do with her life, and that I will offer non-biased advice with no judgement. I equate it with being a sort of “aunt” role. I am not their parent, so they feel comfortable talking to me about various things, but I am an adult so I am looked at as having some authority on certain subjects.

Volunteering, of course, helps the admissions team build leads for prospective college students. I talk to my mentees and Work Readiness groups about the fact that I am an admissions counselor, I give them my business card, and I tell them to call me with any questions or concerns they have about college. Mostly, though, I let them know that I care about their future, no matter what they choose to do after high school. Not every student I talk to is interested in Chatfield, or college in general, but that’s okay. As long as we are having a positive conversation about the future, I feel like I have helped that student. The most important thing I tell the students I volunteer with is this: if it is your dream, your intent, your destiny, your goal…whatever you call it, to go to a college or university, then I will help in any way I can. Not because it’s my job, but because I want you to be happy. If you choose not to attend a college or university, and want advice about the work force, then, again, I will help you in any way I can. I want you to be happy. Everything else is secondary.

I am thankful that our admissions team has the opportunity to meet students on their level, and to hopefully help them with difficult decisions. Our job would not be as rewarding if we were only concentrating on how many enrollments we can get for a semester. We really have a personal investment in our students, and in the community, and that makes all the difference. Volunteering in the high schools, reaching out to young adults, and offering our time and commitment is the way to build strong leads for prospective students. Going above and beyond phone calls and campus tours is what makes us a successful admissions team.

-Lee Rose, St. Martin Admissions Counselor