Applegate’s time cut short at AU

Tricia Applegate

Letter to the editor

If you haven’t heard, my position was one of the four eliminated within the department of theatre last spring. Personally, I am grateful for many reasons, but my heart aches deeply for my former colleagues, the students and especially the alumni.

I have worked for Ashland University at different times and in various capacities since the late 1980s. I began in the personnel office which reported directly to the President’s office. During that time, it was a two-person office so I met every AU employee and was responsible for inputting all employee information into the new computer system. I also helped navigate the name change from Ashland College to University, typed everyone’s new annual contract or hourly pay increase and witnessed many conflict resolutions.

After three years in this position, I was ecstatic when Dr. John Stratton, Dean for the Arts & Humanities, created a new position which was half-time office manager for the ACCESS program and half-time coordinator of theatre operations. Although I loved my time with the international students, my heart was in the performing arts. I saw the theatre program grow by leaps and bounds due to leadership from the President’s office which allocated the necessary funding to hire highly qualified theatre and academic professionals. The program’s enrollment grew and graduates went on to be leaders in the theatre world with Ashland University setting them on that path. 

When researching AU history for a memorial service for Elizabeth Pastor, Trustees Professor of Music, I found news articles and programs documenting the school’s rich history as a cultural force due to President Dr. Glen Clayton commitment to securing resources to present performances by The Cleveland Orchestra and other world-renowned performers. Sadly, through budget and program cuts, AU is losing its identity and rich history along with valuable relationships through its alumni and former employees who were a part of building this institution and its legacy.

As a bright-eyed college graduate, AU gave me my first full-time position and later my dream job in arts management. I took that experience and left AU for a few years to begin a community school of the arts for the Ashland area, but came back in 2010 when my old position was available again. The timing was perfect as both of my boys were beginning their collegiate careers and the tuition remission/waiver was an immense benefit. Sadly, every year of my employment came with added anxiety as budgets and positions were cut and everyone wondered if their time would be ending at AU. My goal was to get my boys through their undergraduate careers which I accomplished with one year to spare.

I am grateful to Ashland University for everything it has given me, my family and the community. I will pray every day for my colleagues who are giving their hearts and souls to see the students, alumni and programs succeed. I also pray for the Ashland community which will be greatly impacted by these decisions. Most of all, I will treasure the friendships and memories I gained throughout my years at AU along with the privilege to work with lost icons like Elizabeth Pastor, James Reynolds and John Stratton. Please join me in making sure their legacy and the impact of many others from AU continue by sharing the wisdom, passion and actions that changed our lives forever.