Power Couples On Campus

By Alyssa Weston

Jambar Contributor

In light of Valentine’s Day, the Jambar spoke to several power couples at Youngstown State University. They shared how they navigate being both couples and colleagues.

Patrick Durrell, instructor in astronomy, and Katherine Durrell, instructor in physics and astronomy, kinesiology and sport science, said they met at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, before working at YSU.

The couple said they view the opportunity to work together as a benefit to both their careers.

“It can be difficult to find work for both spouses when they have similar interests and backgrounds,” Patrick Durrell said. “YSU made it work.”

Because they both teach such different classes, Katherine Durrell said there isn’t much overlap in material, but it’s helpful in discerning better teaching methods.

“We teach different classes, so it is helpful to discuss the different methods we may use in helping students understand the material,” Patrick Durrell said.

Katherine Durrell said together they strive to stay involved in other things outside of work.

“I train and compete with our two miniature schnauzers in dog agility,” she said. “I take horseback riding lessons and show in hunter classes on the local horse show circuit and I try to get some fencing practice in as well.”

Ronald Strollo, executive director of intercollegiate athletics, and Nicole Kent-Strollo, director of student outreach and support and assistant track coach, said they met at YSU when they were both students.

After graduation, Nicole Kent-Strollo was hired by the university as an assistant track coach and athletic-academic advisor. Ronald Strollo worked at a local accounting firm for four years, but later accepted a position at YSU as the athletic business manager.

Each has an independent role on campus, and for them, the key to success to is treat each other as any other colleague while on campus.

Nicole Kent-Strollo said because they both spend so much time on campus, they see greater dedication to their work while at home.

“To be honest, I don’t know if there’s anything we’d rather be doing or anyplace else we’d rather be,” she said. “This is not ‘work’ to either of us and we are both incredibly lucky to be able to say that.”

Adam Earnheardt, chair and instructor of communications, and Mary Beth Earnheardt, a journalism professor, met at Clarion University in Pennsylvania before working at YSU.

Mary Beth Earnheardt said she makes it clear that she is her own person professionally.

“I’m not afraid to disagree or treat Adam as if he were any other colleague,” she said.

Adam Earnheardt said they help each other at work, but no more than other colleagues. However, he said they try to keep work at work and keep that boundary in place as much as possible.

“Telling couples who work in the same place to keep work and home separate almost sounds cliché at this point. It’s nearly impossible. But you should still strive for that,” he said. “What it comes down to is this: listen to your partner. If she or he says, ‘Hey, I don’t really want to talk about work right now,’ honor that and everyone will be happier for it.”