PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Four hundred ninety candidates for graduation, including 97 from the Findlay-area Campus, will receive their degrees during the 31st annual Owens Community College Fall Commencement on Friday, Dec. 9. The commencement will begin at 7 p.m. in the Student Health and Activities Center on the College’s Toledo-area Campus.
Retired President of Owens Community College Dr. Larry McDougle will serve as the keynote speaker for the College’s Fall Commencement. Owens’ commencement ceremony is free and open to the public.
McDougle has amassed more than 40 years of experience as a faculty member and administrator in higher education, including serving as the fifth President in the 46-year history of Owens Community College.
During his tenure, McDougle worked tirelessly to reach out and engage faculty, staff members and students, as well as community and educational partners, with the purpose of advancing higher education for area residents throughout Northwest Ohio and beyond. Under his leadership, a scholarship program was designed for graduating high school students achieving academic excellence, and the College expanded educational opportunities with a Learning Center at Arrowhead Park in Maumee, as well as opened the doors to newly renovated Founders Hall and Heritage Hall buildings at the former Penta Career Center. Additionally, Owens opened a newly refurbished Welding Design Center, which features the latest in technological and academic resources specific to welding for several degree and certificate programs. On the Findlay-area Campus, a new wind turbine and solar array were unveiled as part of the College’s energy strategic plan of reducing overall energy costs by more than 20 percent.
McDougle’s 40 years in higher education span four states, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and South Carolina. He was named the fourth President of Northwest State Community College in 1991 and retired as President Emeritus in 2003. Since his retirement, he had been a part-time faculty member in the University of Toledo Higher Education program, which is designed to prepare students for positions as college administrators. His professional background also includes serving as a tenured Professor at Indiana University, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the University of Toledo.
McDougle has received many honors including an Honorary Doctorate of Educational Leadership in 1998 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2009, both from the University of Findlay. In 1996, he received the Philip J. Rusche Distinguished Service Award from the University of Toledo College of Education and Allied Professions. Two years later, he was awarded the John C. Hoyt Outstanding Employment and Training Leadership Award from the Toledo Area Private Industry Council.
He earned a doctorate in higher education from the University of Toledo. The Napoleon resident holds a master’s degree in physics from Kent State University and a bachelor’s degree in math-physics from the University of Findlay.
Terri Leary, a business management student, has been selected as the Owens class representative and will address the graduates during the Fall Commencement ceremony.
The Pemberville resident began her academic career at Owens with two online courses in January 2010. While she was enrolled in those courses, Leary lost her job as a compliance manager in which she helped seniors find affordable housing.
The 44-year-old did not lose sight of her passion of wanting to help others and chose to enroll as a full-time student at Owens with the goal of eventually working in a business setting that is committed to impacting the lives of others. Her hard work and dedication to her college education is evident in that this past semester alone she completed 24 credit hours of academic coursework. The 1985 Rogers High School graduate holds a 3.89 grade point average and also received the first-ever Owens Board of Trustees Certificate of Recognition for Exemplary Academic Achievement award.
In addition, Leary was one of 12 national finalists in the National Economics Insider Symposium and only one of two students honored from community colleges. She had the opportunity to present on improving the economy through providing prescriptions for senior citizens at the conference in Washington D.C. in front of a prestigious panel that included an Economics Nobel Prize Winner. Leary is also one of the national Jack Kent Cook Scholarship finalists, an honor reserved for students whohave a breadth of interests, work hard and demonstrate a strong will to succeed.
“I was overwhelmed by the support I received at Owens from the faculty. When I was preparing for the Economics Symposium, I received help from faculty who had never even been my instructors,” said Leary. “The Owens faculty and staff really care about student success and are willing to go above and beyond to help students.”
An Honors Scholar, Leary credits her success to the support of the faculty and staff at Owens, including Jeremy Baker, Dr. Russ Bodi, Dr. Catherine Pratt and Dr. Laurie Fathe. The support of her family was also a critical part of her success, including her husband, Ken and their children, Katie, Michael, Tiffany, Savannah and Matthew.
After graduation, she plans on transferring to a four-year institution to continue working toward her bachelor’s degree and then her master’s degree within the area of business or human resources.
Owens Community College is an accredited two-year, state-assisted institution of higher education that has served Northwest Ohio since 1965. With a commitment to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability, the College serves the diverse academic needs of credit and non-credit students on the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, as well as at the Arrowhead Park Learning Center in Maumee and the Learning Center at The Source in downtown Toledo. Owens offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and over 130 technical program areas in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Skilled Trades, and Engineering and Transportation Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university. For more information, visit www.owens.edu.