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Muskingum College grants master’s degrees at graduate commencement exercises,
with address by Karen Vanderhoof-Forschner

Muskingum College granted master of arts in education and master of arts in teaching degrees at its graduate commencement exercises, held May 8 in Brown Chapel on the campus.  The commencement address was delivered by 1974 Muskingum College alumna Karen Vanderhoof-Froschner, co-founder and chair of the Lyme Disease Foundation.

Muskingum College President Anne C. Steele congratulated the assembled graduates and said, “You have made a commitment to educate yourselves so that you may educate others. Through you, lives will be forever changed.”

VANDERHOOF-FORSCHNERIn her address, Ms. Vanderhoof-Forschner chronicled the enormous challenges she and her family faced in their fight against Lyme Disease, and credited her Muskingum College experience with giving her the determination to face those challenges.  She told the graduates, “If you make your start here at Muskingum, you can accomplish anything.  The most important thing to remember is to never give up, on yourself or anyone else.”

In recognition of her contributions to her profession and to society,  the college bestowed upon Ms. Vanderhoof-Forschner an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. It was presented by Dr. Steele and Muskingum College alumnus and Trustee Gordon Spillman.  In 1999,  Mrs. Vanderhoof-Forschner received the Distinguished Service Award, Muskingum College’s highest honor for alumni. 

Ms. Vanderhoof-Forschner is an internationally recognized health advocate, whose efforts have educated millions of families to the dangers of Lyme disease and other tick-borne disorders. 

Her public mission is rooted in personal tragedy.  After being bitten by a deer tick in 1985, her son was born with, handicapped by, and died at age five from Lyme disease. She co-founded the Lyme Disease Foundation in 1988, and has since donated more than 40,000 volunteer hours to the organization, as well as serving as chair of its Board of Directors.

Under her leadership, the Lyme Disease Foundation created a high-profile public information program, cited by Time magazine as the “most successful awareness campaign” of any health organization.  In just two years, Lyme disease moved from being virtually unknown to achieving 88 percent household name recognition.

Ms. Vanderhoof-Forschner’s education initiatives have included authoring a book Everything You Need to Know about Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Disorders, and co-producing award-winning television programs for children.  She has conducted innumerable media interviews, and has testified before Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies.

With professional expertise that spans the fields of health care and insurance law, Ms. Vanderhoof-Forschner focuses her research on health-care policy and has served as a member of the board of trustees for several health and human services organizations.  She has been honored by the National Institutes of Health for Outstanding Public Health Education, named a “Woman of the Year” by the Points of Light Foundation and Family Circle magazine and a “Woman of Worth” award by L’Oreal, Inc.

Ms. Vanderhoof-Forschner earned a bachelor of science in biology and psychology from Muskingum College, a master of business administration from the University of Connecticut School of Business, a juris doctor degree, cum laude, from Quinnipac University School of Law, and a master of laws degree in insurance law from the University of Connecticut School of Law.

She is married to Thomas E. Forschner, a 1972 Muskingum College alumnus and  co-founder and executive director of the Lyme Disease Foundation. They are the parents of Christy and James (deceased), and reside in Tolland, Connecticut.

Candidates for their master’s degrees were presented by Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Paul Reichardt. The degrees were conferred by President Steele, Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies Dr. Ruthann Fagan and Professor of Education and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Teacher Education Dr. Linda Morrow. 

Dr. Steele also recognized Dr. Morrow for her selection as “Professor of the Year” for the state of Ohio by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). To read more about Dr. Morrow, click here.

Faculty marshals were Professor of Religion Rick Nutt and Professor of Education Dr. Steve Kokovich. The graduate marshals were Elizabeth L. Gifford and Marianne M. Huey.