Seeking non-profits, causes

February 27, 2015

This semester I’m teaching a class which I helped shape, and which Cuyahoga Community College has offered since 2007.  The class name is Social Media and Blogging.

As part of the class requirements, my students need to develop and carry out a social media campaign for a non-profit group of a social media cause.

It can’t be too extensive (the student will need to complete the campaign in a five-week window), but the student will be responsible for doing the social media aspects for the cause, and also for writing a couple of blogs about it.

So, right now, I’m actively seeking non-profits and causes who would like some student help in late March and April.

No charge.  Your student has already received education and some practice on blogging and social media techniques by the time they assist you.  The “outline” for this activity is attached/below.

Interested?  Email me at or call my office at 216-987-5040.  If we can work out details, I’ll put a brief description together for the students and try to “match up” causes/campaigns with students.



GUEST BLOG: Dining Diversity Found in Food Trucks

February 13, 2015

See note at the bottom of this story …


A big yellow truck rolls to a stop in the middle of the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade. A generator mounted on the rear bumper kicks to life and a line of students forms. The awning rises and the metal gate is pulled open, showing the cooks bustling inside. The LCD menu flickers to display this week’s choices. With that, the Fork in the Road food truck is open for business.

“I know that students don’t want to eat the same thing everyday,” said student and campus tour guide Lauryn Rosinski. She has been giving prospective students tours for about three semesters, and almost always touts the campus food truck as a highlight of the diversity among the dining options at Kent. “They think that’s really cool that they’re getting to eat different stuff all the time. I’m kind of showing them, you’re not going to get bored with the food.”

College dining is often the object of scrutiny. High prices, repetitive choices, a lack of healthy menus for students on the go, all of these are problems that afflict most campuses. Kent State University has taken a unique approach to offering students quality food in a convenient way. Fork in the Road is a food truck owned by Kent State and operated by Executive Chef Christian Booher and his team of cooks.

For students at Kent State, a lack of dining options on the north end of campus left them hungry and in need of something tasty and convenient. According to Richard Roldan, Director of Food Services at the university, the Fork in the Road food truck is the university’s solution.

“The biggest thing to push it was the last couple years I’ve been having a lot of conversations with students and folks across campus about under-serviced areas of campus,” said Roldan. “Places where students were coming across campus to get something to eat was a little inconvenient.”

The trend of university-run food trucks is not isolated to Kent State University. Many colleges across North America are seeing the benefits a mobile dining unit offers their student body and the popularity of such options. According to a Wall Street Journal article from August 22nd, 2012, nearly 100 colleges have their own food truck in use. This is compared to only about a dozen schools with food trucks only five years earlier. The statistics are courtesy of the National Association of College and University Food Services, which represents around 550 universities in North America.

The mobility of food trucks allows the businesses to tap into markets that wouldn’t be available with a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. Especially on college campuses, a food truck is a profitable endeavor. The demographic spending the most money at food trucks is the 25-34 year old group. They spend an average of $44 per month. Those under 25 spend comparably, about $39 per month. This is according to a survey done by the statistical site in 2014.

The food truck uses it’s Twitter account (@KSUFoodTruck) to communicate with student’s where it’ll be setting up shop for that day. With over a thousand followers, the account is a popular way for students to interact with the unique service offered to them by the university.

According to Roldan, Kent State’s food truck cost about $160,000 to go from idea to a fully operational dining mobile. The truck has a twenty-foot chassis and is completely functional as a kitchen. It features a convection oven, full range grill, fryers, everything Chef Booher needs to propagate his menu.

“We decided we really wanted to have a truck that changed with the seasons, with the availability of local items,” said Roldan. The Fork in the Road menu is diverse as it is globally influenced. He described it as global fusion. There are elements of classic Americana alongside Latin dishes with Asian elements involved. All these influences combine to create a healthy, palatable alternative option to the campus’s other dining options.

The truck, which began servicing students this semester in August, has averaged about three hours per day on campus. During those days it has served an average of 200 people and pulls in roughly $11,000 in total revenue. All of this considering the average cost of a dish is only five dollars. Fork in the Road has been present at all of Kent’s home football games. Roldan said the truck will be operational when there is not classes. As long as there is a demand on campus, the wheels will be rolling to satisfy that hunger.

The boom in the food truck industry has Starbucks, the coffee chain behemoth,  testing the waters of mobile dining services at three universities in 2014. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the corporation wants to further tap into the huge coffee market of college students. Of Starbucks’ nearly 11,500 store locations, only about 300 are located on college campuses. Depending on the success of their mobile coffee ventures at Arizona State University, James Madison University, and Coastal Carolina University, the chain could expand food truck services across the nation.

Kent State University has gone to lengths to ensure students have a variety of dining options across campus. They’re currently offering six different locations spread across campus for student’s to eat, including the mobile Fork in the Road. The Student Center offers a variety of places to choose from, including an Einstein Brothers Bagels, Subway, and a sushi booth. Student’s often flock to The Kent Market, located upstairs, for additional options.

The trend of universities becoming proprietors of food trucks is a sign that the wants and needs of the student body are being recognized by the powers that be. In Kent, Fork in the Road serves as a direct response to the need of convenient sustenance for students in the far corners of its broad campus. Across North America, mobile dining units have become staples in cityscapes and college campuses.The renaissance of the food truck is being taken seriously in culinary circles. Trucks like Kent State’s Fork in the Road prove that convenience, creativity, and sustenance can coexist in an affordable way.

Andrew is a journalism student at Kent State University, and wrote this in his JMC 26001 class in the Fall 2014 semester.  You can reach him at


0% qualifiers, 100% proud

February 1, 2015

Tough day Saturday. Revere speech & debate had 12 competitors and 6 judges and parent helpers in eight different vehicles going to two different locations.

It was the ending that brought some tears. We had great expectations, but Revere did not have a single person who qualified for the OHSSL state tournament at the Akron District’s “Littles” championship yesterday. Team Akron will have more then 100 entries going to State though, and I’m extremely pleased that there are so many good and talented debaters and speakers from Akron this year.

This has been a challenging adjustment for me. When I began coaching debate/speech seven years ago in Brecksville-Broadview Heights, I knew the students, knew the school district, and knew some of the parents. That made the process a bit easier for us (Mark McCandless, Dr. Yeh and me).

The acclimation is much more complicated when one doesn’t live or teach at the school where one coaches. Revere’s program might have even disappeared in the fall of 2013, but thanks to Tony Paparella (who recommended me to Phil King at Revere) it did not. But we had five seniors among the six students who were remnants at Revere in 2013-2014.  We added a few students last year, but all we could really do was keep the fire alive.

This year, that fire is burning brighter as we’ve witnessed a resurgence in debate and speech.  It’s thanks to:

  • Nearly 10 dedicated new students who have stuck with the program all year
  • Terrific leadership from captains James White and Alexis Espinal
  • Help from dedicated parents who’ve judged, opened up homes, and made it clear to their students and to me that debate and speech are high priorities to them
  • Assistance from Brad Laidman, who provided advice and case help for our LD and PF debaters

We still have the prospect of “back door” qualifying for States at the upcoming East Ohio District NFL/NSDA tournament on Feb. 20-21 at Medina. But unless that happens, Revere will have but three representatives at States this year — a Congress contingent of White, co-captain Drew Espinal, and Megan Travers. It’s a strong bunch though.  All three have finished in the “Top Six” in some Congress tournaments, James as high as fourth and Drew as high as second. We will be ready for States and Nationals in Congress.

Disappointed?  Yes.  Discouraged?  Not at all.  We’ve had so many 9th and 10th graders learn so much about debate and speech this year. We’ve set the table for a terrific future.

Students and parents: Don’t stop believing.

And finally — like the mythical basketball coach Norman Dale says in the movie Hoosiers, “my team is on the floor.” You have worked very hard. You understand how the events work.  You have come a long way in a short amount of time. You’re a winner no matter what the ballots said, and you’ll be winners in tournaments in the months and years ahead.

IMG_20150131_153752005 (1)                         About three-fourths of Revere’s Talking Minutemen