SOCHE selects 3 WC employees for excellence awards


Wilmington College campus community members earned kudos for being among WC’s “best of the best” as area vice presidents named three employees for SOCHE’s 2022-23 awards for Faculty Excellence, Staff Excellence and Campus Impact.

They are Erin Bales, assistant professor of occupational therapy, who received the faculty award; Deanna Vatan, associate vice president of retention & academic success, the staff award; and Chip Murdock, senior director of diversity + inclusion and service and civic engagement, who garnered the Campus Impact recognition.

SOCHE, the Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education, recognizes the importance of acknowledging outstanding faculty and staff at its member institutions in the greater Miami Valley.

Bales, who joined the faculty in 2021, stepped into a faculty leadership role upon the unexpected death of Dr. Cindy Hahn, the Occupational Therapy program’s founding director.

Her nomination noted that, “Erin has taken a primary role in securing and supporting a new OT program director and in guiding extensive accreditation work of the OT program faculty as they seek their initial program accreditation.” Also, she has played “a pivotal role” in the development of new initiatives in the OT program, such as with the Equine Therapy Camp planned for Summer 2023.

Vatan, who came to campus in 2021, was described as “a beacon of positivity and light” at Wilmington College.

Indeed, there isn’t a student, staff or faculty member on campus who does not know her. “Her deeply committed relationship with the Athletics Office and the athletes themselves has improved their academics and retention,” according to her nomination. “Deanna’s collaborative spirit with both faculty and staff has improved the overall campus climate and retention of our students.”

Indeed, regardless of the hour, she can be counted on to support students with schoolwork and their activities. Her collaborative spirit has created a new template at the College for what student success can and should be. “Deanna continues to build foundational programs that will continue to improve the retention of our students and set the foundation for success after graduation. She has given her heart and soul along with a large amount of blood, sweat and tears to help each and every WC student succeed in their academic program.”

Murdock, who came to WC in 2000 as a member of the Admission Office, has a “multi-layered role” in which he provides the opportunity for students to travel several times a year as it relates to his area of responsibilities:

Every year, he heads the Office of D&I’s fall tour of Washington, D.C., during which students visit four notable cultural museums: The Smithsonian’s African American History and Culture, American History, U.S. Holocaust and American Indian museums.

This spring’s Civil Rights Tour to Atlanta featured the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Ebenezer Baptist Church and Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library. The tour also featured a stop in Tuskegee, AL, to see the Tuskegee Airstrip and tour the Tuskegee Institute and a visit to Montgomery, AL. to see the Rosa Parks Museum, Brian Stephenson Justice Center and the National Museum for Peace. In Selma, AL. the WC contingent learned the significance of and walked across the Edmund Pettis Bridge before going to Birmingham, AL, to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Murdock also led service trips to Chicago and Detroit, and the experiential learning involved when he collaborated with others on campus to start a Liberation Library: Knowledge for the Taking! from which anyone on campus can take a book, leave a book or borrow a book.

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