OUE professor recognized for research on schools and industry


An Ohio Valley professor has been nationally recognized for her doctoral research.

Her dissertation focuses on the relationship between school districts and local industry. Natural gas has significantly affected the Ohio Valley, particularly the state of Ohio. It's of special interest to a local professor, whose doctoral research on the subject has earned her national attention.

Dr. Jacqueline Yahn, a professor at Ohio University Eastern, is originally from the Ohio Valley. She's seen firsthand how industry can come and go.

“What happens economically in a community impacts the health of your school, but what your school is doing organizationally, and what they are offering, inevitably impacts your economic health,” Yahn said.

For her dissertation she studied the relationship between schools and industry. During her research, she looked at 12 school districts in 7 counties across Appalachian Ohio, including Belmont, Monroe and Harrison.

The districts received upfront signing bonuses from oil and gas companies and Yahn looked at how they used the money.

“While it looks like a lot of money on paper that the schools get, they had a limited amount of options of what they could do with it,” Yahn said. “That said, the school districts did really smart things."

While those schools cannot be revealed due to the anonymity of the study, Yahn shared some ways they used what they were given. They could not spend the money on reoccurring expenses, like staff salary, but instead, new projects and programs, some long term and others immediate.

“Some of the school districts, their investments were very industry specific, thinking about current industries coming in,” Yahn said. “Primarily the shale industry and things coming in with it. Those schools would be putting in place things like shale academies or other course work that goes along with oil and gas.”

Her dissertation was recognized by the National Rural Education Association, earning her the Edward. W. Chance Memorial Rural Education Dissertation Award.

Yahn describes it as a humbling experience.

“When you're working on your dissertation in particular, you're a junior researcher at the time,” Yahn said. “For somebody to say that this is standout work, and it stands out across the nation, it's a wonderful kind of platform into the rest of your career."

Yahn says that she looks forward to sharing her research with other regions in the country.

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