If there’s one topic that encourages animated discussion among DiBiasios, Dan ’71, Tony ’74, and Bob ’77, it’s anything OWU-related. From 1967 to 1977, the brothers—one or more of them–were students at Ohio Wesleyan. And more recently, as Michael ’10 and James ’12 (sons of Dan and Tony, respectively) brought their OWU stories and viewpoints home to share, “we saw how they experienced Ohio Wesleyan in completely different ways and made their own lives there,” says Tony, a psychotherapist at Psychological and Behavioral Consultants in Cleveland. For each DiBiasio—younger or older—took full advantage of his OWU education, making it his own. But after listening to the three brothers talk about what really matters to them as they look back on their OWU experiences, they point to their unforgettable professors, mentors, and friends, the impact of playing sports and learning to be disciplined student-athletes, and the ability to set a moral and career compass that has kept them true to their aspirations and goals in life.
For Dan, president of Ohio Northern University, his gravitation toward a career in higher education was encouraged by his mentor, Bruce Alton ’61, OWU’s assistant dean of men who eventually became president of Rocky Mountain College. Dan, who majored in English, worked as a hall director at Bashford Hall, gaining experience in the area of student affairs that would serve him well later, as he joined Alton at Rocky Mountain as an admission counselor and dean of students. Dan joined Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, but admits to having less involvement as he became more involved with residential life matters.
“My decision to pursue a college presidency evolved after I spent time at The Ohio State University (he received both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from OSU) as assistant dean of the graduate school, and later as executive assistant to the president at the University of New Hampshire. “But I knew I wanted to return to a smaller private college university environment,” says Dan. He was the successful presidential candidate at Wilmington College, where he oversaw its excellent growth in the college’s academic and advancement affairs for 16 years. Dan then accepted the presidency at Ohio Northern University in August 2011.
“The joys remain constant in having the opportunity to see transformations among our students as they develop competencies to be independent learners, “says Dan. “I hope I am contributing to making places of learning better and am making a difference [in students’ lives],” says Dan.
Like his older brother, Tony, also a member of Phi Gamma Delta, realized his career niche while at OWU. As a history major and psychology minor with an avid interest in playing college baseball at OWU, which he did, Tony became fascinated about the field of psychology in his classes, many of which were taught by Professor Harvey Freeman.
“I was interested in acquiring the ability to understand people at the micro-level and developing my listening skills, so that I could help people move forward,” says Tony, adding how his mother embodied the natural skills of a great counselor. “I learned those traits watching her and blended them with my therapy training. I have respect for all of my clients’ life journeys.” Earning his Ph.D. in counselor education at The Ohio State University, Tony was a school counselor in the Fairview Park City Schools for more than 30 years, and has been in private practice—treating children and adolescents with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder as well as those suffering with anxiety and depression, for more than 25 years. He is now an adjunct professor in the Division of Education at Baldwin Wallace University.
“I love working with kids and their families,” says Tony. “Success is a matter of working hard and with passion at what you love, and making a difference in all that you do.”
For Bob, the youngest, it was almost a given that he would enroll at OWU. He recalls his first time on campus as a sixth grader, visiting Dan. Also an OWU baseball and basketball player, Bob remembers Frank Shannon as a great coach and mentor. Majoring in journalism and working as sports editor of The Transcript, he knew well the infamous red pen copy corrections of journalism professor and Transcript advisor Verne Edwards. “I didn’t sleep well on Thursdays, knowing my sports page would be ripped apart on Fridays, because Verne was a stickler for detail,” says Bob. “I made many mistakes, but what OWU gave me was the opportunity to make and learn from those mistakes.” What OWU also offered was the environment in which Bob realized the importance of knowing who he was and what his strengths were. His love for journalism and sports—particularly the Cleveland Indians—inspired him to go after the public relations job he wanted. In incremental steps, from newspaper work in Fremont, Ohio, to an assistant public relations position with the Indians, to similar work for the Atlanta Braves organization—and then back to the Indians in 1988, Bob now is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, making sure his team is on board with the organization’s communications strategies. His TV show, “Indians Alumni Roundtable” features storytelling about the Indians’ rich history with several of the past players. “Success means having self awareness and knowing who you are. Public relations utilizes my skill set, plus I am a huge Indians fan. I am doing exactly what I want to do.” Bob even has a vision of his “later” years. “I want to do ‘Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” on Route 66. I’ll take my wife and golf clubs!”