2007 Program Distinguished Alumni

College of Liberal Arts graduates exhibit many fascinating paths to success. Each year we celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni at an Outstanding Alumni Awards Ceremony.


Steven Bognar

'86 B.F.A. Motion Pictures

Over the years, Steve Bognar has worked as a dishwasher, farmhand, delivery driver, busboy, movie projectionist, grip, sound recordist and cinematographer. Since 1988, he has worked in schools throughout Ohio as an artist in residence for the Ohio Arts Council and the Muse Machine. He is also an award-winning independent filmmaker of both documentaries and dramatic films. He writes screenplays and produces, directs, shoots and edits his films. Four of his films have had their world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and have screened at festivals worldwide.

Steve's first film, Personal Belongings, won top prizes at the San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte and Ann Arbor Film Festivals. His film, Picture Day, won Best Short Documentary at the Florida Film Festival, and his film, Gravel, won Best Short Film at the Nashville Film Festival. His most recent film, A Lion in the House, made with Julia Reichert, won numerous awards at film festivals around the world.

Steve's films have also been viewed by millions in their national broadcasts on PBS, the Sundance Channel, the Independent Film Channel and in a dozen other countries. His films have also screened at top museums around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Te PaPa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand and the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. He is the 2006 recipient of the Ohio Governor's Award in the Arts for Individual Artist, the state's highest honor in the arts.

Sarah Ross Crabtree

'03 B.A. French

After leaving Wright State University with a major in French and a minor in Spanish, Sarah Ross married Dennis Crabtree and began her career as a language teacher in rural Southeast Ohio. In addition to teaching French I, II, and III as well as Spanish I at Wheelersburg High School, she also teaches elementary Spanish at Shawnee State University. Sarah co-sponsored Wheelersburg High School's Foreign Language Fair, in which she gave Latin dancing lessons and introduced the Tour de France project, a bicycle race modeled after 'la vraie chose.'

Sarah's motto: "You live a new life with every new language you speak," comes from a Czech Proverb, and is one she supports enthusiastically both as a life philosophy and in deed. Last year WHS took their maiden voyage to Europe with Sarah's encouragement, and this year they are organizing a study abroad trip to France and Spain for May of 2007! Sarah is also a member of the 7 Nations Celtic Club, a connection that gave her students the opportunity to carry Brittany's flag in the local St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Even while preparing her Masters of Education in Classroom teaching with a concentration in Fine Arts from Rio Grande University, Sarah made sure to spread her goodwill to others. With Rio Grande, she traveled to China and taught a Rubric workshop to English teachers in Xiían. In addition, she has volunteered with VOSH and KIWANIS international and worked in eye care clinics in Nicaragua and Peru. Sarah is a splendid ambassador for Wright State, bringing her students to campus.

Margaret Erin

'90 B.A. Music, '02 M.A. Humanities

Margaret Erin studied viola da gamba with Patricia Olds at Wright State University graduating with a B.A. (music, magna cum laude). Later, she earned a Master of Humanities degree from Wright State and was the recipient of the Outstanding Humanities Graduate Student Award for 2002.

Margaret directs and plays recorder and viola da gamba with Wind in the Woods Early Music Ensemble, a group she started in 1990. She also directs a student early music ensemble at the University of Dayton, teaches recorder at her home studio, and is proprietor of Manorhouse Music, a small business offering music for early instruments.

Julia Frasure

'90 B.A. Anthropology

Julia Frasure spent almost twenty years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a Budget Assistant when she began taking courses at Wright State and discovered anthropology. She had harbored an interest in archaeology for years, and at Wright State she was able to combine coursework with field experience in the summer. She served as a supervisor for the WSU Field School in Archaeology for four years, and went on to obtain her M.A. degree in anthropology from the University of Illinois, writing a thesis on the ancient Olmec culture. After a brief stint doing archaeology in Oaxaca, Mexico, she returned to Ohio and worked as an adjunct instructor at Sinclair, the University of Dayton and Wright State for eleven years.

In December of 2002, Julia was hired by the National Park Service. She is currently the Lead Park Ranger at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. She supervises the desk staff at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center in Dayton and conducts programs on- and off-site for visitors and civic groups. Julia is a wonderful example of a nontraditional student who persevered in obtaining the academic training that has allowed her to make a significant career for herself in a closely related field.

Beth Klaisner

'91 M.A. English

Beth Klaisner came to Wright State as a non-traditional transfer student 20 years ago. In the following four years, she completed both a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education: English and a Master of Arts degree in English with emphases in Creative Writing and Teaching College Composition. During her master's program, she began her service to WSU as a graduate teaching assistant and was selected as the Outstanding Graduate Student for the Department of English Language and Literatures in 1991.

Beth continues to serve WSU in a variety of roles. After working as an adjunct instructor at both WSU and Sinclair Community College, she became a full time instructor in the English department. She served the college and the university by participating in the 1995-96 general education assessment process. In 2001, Beth became a college advisor. This change brought her more opportunities to be involved with recruitment, the admission process, advising, curriculum development and implementation, and alumni activities and events. Beth has been heavily involved in the process of implementing the Degree Audit Reporting System in the College of Liberal Arts, and in assisting with the college and university major systems transition in 2006-2007. In 2005, Beth was selected by President Goldenberg as the universityís representative to the Higher Education Resource Center (HERS) Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Beth served the College of Liberal Arts at Wright State University as the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs from January, 2007, until April, 2010.

Jo Ellen Layne

'95 B.A. Social Work

Jo Ellen Layne received her B.A. in Social Work with honors in 1995. While at WSU, she was active in the social work club and the honors society, Alpha Delta Mu. Jo Ellen went directly to the University of Michigan where she received her M.A. from the #1 social work program in the country. She again graduated with honors and was an invited speaker for the annual social work banquet.

Jo Ellen's social work practice has included grief work with hospice families and working in the Family Advocacy Program for the U.S. military with families stationed in Japan. She helped these families prevent their daily stress from resulting in violence and mental dysfunction. We are fortunate at Wright State University that Jo Ellen's next stop was back here in Dayton. In 2002 she became the first and only project coordinator of the Child Welfare Workforce Professional Education Program. Under Jo Ellen's guidance, over 30 students have completed this program and began work at a public child welfare agency.

Jo Ellen's individual work with students, her support for the field supervisors, and her utilization of an advisory group have become the model for other university's child welfare partnership programs. Jo Ellen's work with the child welfare program has brought the Wright State University social work program much positive media exposure, including a feature article in the Fall 2004 Community magazine. Jo Ellen continues to be active in the social work alumni committee, connecting her work with students to alumni social workers in the field.

Karhlton Moore

'95 B.A. Sociology

Originally from Springfield, Ohio, Karhlton Moore received his bachelor of arts degree from Wright State University and his law degree from American University's Washington College of Law.

Karhlton became the executive director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) on July 1, 2005. Previously, he served as the chief legal counsel and legislative liaison for OCJS. He moved to OCJS in September 2003 from the Governorís office where he served as the assistant deputy legal counsel for two years. Prior to his work at the Governor's office, he served as an assistant attorney general in the Ohio Attorney General's office, in the Court of Claims Defense section and the Capital Crimes section. As executive director, Karhlton is responsible for the administration and evaluation of state and federal grants for law enforcement, victim assistance, juvenile justice, crime prevention, and courts and corrections programs. He also provides the Governor with current and projected criminal justice strategies. He serves on the State of Ohio Security Task Forceand the Governor's Council on Juvenile Justice.

Lucy L. Owens

'05 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Lucy L. Owens earned a bachelors of science in Criminal Justice from the University of Toledo and her master's degree in Applied Behavioral Science at Wright State University. She graduated in the top one percent of her graduate program. As a practitioner, she has dedicated ten years to various areas of the criminal justice system. She has also worked tirelessly in the community through numerous outreach programs for disadvantaged youth and battered women. Lucy has been a pillar in The Visions Mentoring Program at Wright State University by earning an Award for Mentor of the Year in 2005.

In conjunction with her professional experience, Lucy is also a prolific poet, writer, and activist and has appeared in national publications, including Essence Magazine and Nexus Literary Journal. She is a member of two distinguished public services organizations, The Order of Eastern Star and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Currently, Lucy continues her undying passion for knowledge and achievement by instructing at Wright State University.

Martin Pleiss

'92 B.F.A. Sculpture and Printmaking

Martin Pleiss is a 1992 BFA graduate with an emphasis in sculpture and printmaking. After graduation, he put his talents for fabricating and printing and his artistís eye to good use as a museum exhibition designer and preparator.

Since 1998, Martin has been in charge of design and installation of the exhibitions at the Dayton Art Institute. This involves moving and handling the work, making sure that it is maintained in perfect condition, building any necessary exhibition cases and other props, lighting the show, and all of the other details involved in the classy exhibitions you see when you visit. It sounds straightforward: until you think about a few of the challenges Martin has faced. How do you move a 2-ton, 7-foot, 3,000 year old stone sculpture? What wall color is the best complement for a Rembrandt painting? In what order do you move and reinstall 300 paintings with the least amount of disruption to the public? How do you make certain that 1,800 light fixtures are working every day? Martin has met all of these challenges and more. He successfully completed the movement and assisted in the installation of over 20 tons of glass in 550 boxes for the Chihuly exhibit. Heís accompanied works of art as a courier, including Monet and Hopper paintings, the entire Ansel Adams traveling exhibit, and even a T-rex dinosaur bone and a moon rock!

Paradoxically, the less you notice his work and the more you focus on the art the more successful his design. Perhaps the next time you visit the Dayton Art Institute, youíll notice the consummate professionalism of the installation.

Donald R. Spang

'77 B.S. Urban Affairs

The Department of Urban Affairs & Geography has selected Donald R. Spang as its Outstanding Alumni for 2007. Donald became the Executive Director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) in September 2006. He has been with MVRPC since 1977. In this position and his other positions, he has played a critical role in the development of the Greater Dayton region. As the Executive Director, Donald recommends funding strategies to provide for regional economic growth, improve the region's transportation system and roadways; and protect the quality of our air and water. MVRPC is at the forefront of $146 million (2005) of investment in roadways, transit systems and bike ways, and is in forefront of environmental planning and finding solutions to regional issues such as urban decay, vacant housing, and social and economic disparities.

We not only selected Donald our outstanding alumni because of his good works in the region, but also because he has been a faithful graduate of the Urban Affairs Program (1977). He contributes annually to our student scholarship fund; we deeply appreciate his generosity. We thank him for his service to our region and wish him well as Executive Director.

Ted Staton

'77 B.A. Political Science, '80 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Ted Staton holds a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science/Public Management from Wright State where he also served as an adjunct instructor of urban policy/public management for ten years. As a student, Ted was president of the political science club, chairperson of the University Center Board, and graduate representative to the student government. He is a charter member of the Theta Zeta chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha. Prior to his appointment as City Manager of East Lansing, Michigan, Ted served in a number of senior administrative positions with the City of Dayton, Ohio including Director of the Department of Public Works, Office of Management and Budget, and the Dayton International Airport.

Over the course of his 12-year tenure as East Lansing City Manager, he has helped engineer a dramatic redirection of this big-ten city of 50,000 residents, leading the way to unprecedented expansion and economic growth. Ted’s work has been recognized nationally in the Reinventing Government Series by David Osborn and Pete Plastrik, and he was given the prestigious Outstanding Service Award by the Michigan Municipal League. Earlier this year, he was honored by the Michigan Local Government Management Association with an award for excellence in local government. He is also a two-time recipient of awards from the American Society of Public Administration honoring his distinguished work in the field of local government management.

Tanya Zanish-Belcher

'90 M.A. Historical and Archival Administration

Tanya Zanish-Belcher received her B.A. (1983) in History and Medieval Studies from Ohio Wesleyan University and M.A. (1990) in Historical and Archival Administration from Wright State University. She began as a Special Collections Archivist at the Alabama Dept. of Archives and History. In 1995, she became the Curator for the Archives of Women in Science and Engineering at the Iowa State University Library, and in 1998 was promoted to Head of the Special Collections Department and Head of the University Archives. She administers a department containing 15,000 linear ft. of archival material, over 1,000,000 photographic images, 60,000 rare books, and 10,000 motion picture films with a staff of 4 faculty, 3 para-professionals, and numerous student employees and interns. The Department has an active outreach and reference program, and won the National History Day in Iowa Kids Count! Award for Outstanding Service to Youth Researchers in 2004.

She has numerous publications, and current research includes the role of oral history in documenting women in science and issues relating to archival collections related to reproduction. Tanya has given numerous presentations to local and regional groups, as well as professional organizations such as the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). She currently serves as the vice president of MAC and as a member of SAA’s Membership Committee. At Iowa State, she recently was named a Wakonse Fellow and has also received a W. Robert Parks Honors Commendation for her work with the University’s Honors Program.