The world changed on May 4, 1970. Sandy Scheuer, William Schroeder, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller lost their lives. Nine others were wounded. The Ohio National Guardsmen who opened fire into a crowd of unarmed students changed not only Kent State University, but the state, country and world.
Ultimately, it made Dr. Barbato who she is.
"In 1970 I was a student at the Kent Campus," says Dr. Barbato, who is known for her research on the subject. "I had two friends killed â€“ Sandy and Bill. I guess you could say I always had that connection because 'I was there'"
Although she has always had an interest in the subject, Dr. Barbato shifted her research focus from group dynamics, to the events on and around May 4, 1970 in 1995. That year she was appointed to the 25th May 4 commemorative committee and in 2000 she continued her service chairing the family relations sub-committee because of her connection with the families. Through this appointment, she formed a special bond of kinship with those touched by the tragedy, one that drove her to find the reality of what really happened on May 4.
"Scholars are entrusted to find the truth â€“ to get at reality." â€“ Dr. Carole Barbato, Professor of Communication Studies, Kent State University, January 5, 2011.
"We have a duty," she says. "Scholars are entrusted to find the truth. We're literally writing history. This is what people will know about our campus."
Dr. Barbato's research, combined with that of Kent State University's Mark Seeman, professor of anthropology; Laura Davis, professor of English and Jerry Lewis, professor of sociology is the reason that the site of the shootings is now on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, their work created the May 4 site Walking Tour and the plans for a May 4 Visitors Center. Dr. Barbato and her colleagues were recipients of the 2010 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Preservation Merit Awards for preparing an "exemplary documentation" to nominate the site.
"In my research and activity related to the Kent State shootings I am always mindful of the fact that it could have been me," Dr. Barbato says. "It is the obligation of this educational institution to teach the facts related to the shootings and to place it in historical perspective."
Dr. Barbato not only researches this subject, but she also teaches "May 4, 1970 and its Aftermath" each spring. This is her eleventh year instructing the course, where she and her students not only discuss the events on and around that day, but also how even current events relate to May 4.
Dr. Barbato, who resides in Poland, Ohio, has taught for Kent State East Liverpool in various positions since 1974. Since 1975 she has been a judge for Voice of Democracy script writing contest, which is sponsored by this area's Veterans of Foreign Wars. She is also First Vice President of Delta Kappa Gamma, the Women Educators Society. In 2006 she received the Ohio Communication Association Distinguished Teaching Award.
She and her husband Patrick will celebrate 39 years together in September. Together they have a daughter, Alissa and a son-in-law Mark Kasmer.