President's Blog


Introduction Video Message

Posted on April 12th, 2018

Directly following the Board meeting on April 11, I recorded this three-minute video message to our college community. I wanted to quickly share my genuine gratitude and excitement with as many of you was possible.

Hi, this is Steve Robinson

I want to take this opportunity to personally tell as many of you as I can how very honored I am to have been selected the seventh president of Owens Community College, and I want to offer a sincere thanks to the Board, the search committee, and everyone involved in the selection process.

I’m excited to move forward with you, and I’m optimistic that together, we will build a bright future for this institution. Together, we will work to achieve our mission and vision of success for each and every student who walks through our doors.

I’m already being asked what my plans are for Owens. So let me share a few thoughts with you.

We went through a rough period. We did a lot of hard work together to survive and now it’s time to thrive. And I can confidently say that we’re on the right track.

We know Owens graduates are critical to the businesses in this region. Thanks to the hard work of our faculty, our students have the skills and knowledge employers want and our community needs. I intend identify new opportunities to meet the needs of businesses in this community who want to build their workforce with the kinds of students who graduate from Owens.

I plan to work tirelessly to build on the relationships we’ve established in the business community in Northwest Ohio to make Owens an indispensable partner for their success and growth.

We’ll also be keeping a sharp eye on employment trends so we can continually evolve our academic programs to fit the business community’s and workforce needs.

A critically important part of that process will be our work to enhance career counseling and experiential learning opportunities for students.

I’m proud – we’re all proud – of the collaborative working relationships we have developed with our higher education partners in Northwest Ohio. We will work to make those relationships even smarter and stronger.

To continue our forward momentum, we will focus on attracting new students increasing enrollment, retaining the students we do enroll, and making sure they complete their certificates, degrees or transfer to a four-year institution.

We also want more people to know about the great work our students and faculty do here, so we will be looking at ways to do that through our marketing department.

We also plan to broaden membership in our alumni association so we can build long-term relationships with our graduates. And, we’ll be focusing on ways to increase the number of donors we have, as well as the gifts and endowments we receive so we can enhance the opportunities we provide for our students.

These are ambitious goals. But they are achievable goals. To get there, we will soon begin a college-wide, comprehensive, multi-year strategic planning process. That process will culminate in a roadmap to our success. We will need everyone’s help. Everybody’s voice will be important in this process.

In closing, I want to thank all the students, faculty and staff who have made my time at Owens such a pleasure. These past three years have truly been the most rewarding interval of my career. I’m looking forward to the future with great enthusiasm. Today, let’s focus on building a strong and sustainable path forward.

To say that I’m eager to get started is really an understatement. I’m very excited, and I’m confident that our commitment to student success and economic development will propel us toward a bright future. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

In the coming days and weeks, please stop to chat as I see you across our campuses and out in the community. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


Thank You from the 7th Owens President

Posted on April 11th, 2018

Dear Faculty & Staff:

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been so helpful and supportive during the past three years as we’ve worked together to reposition Owens for a bright future. The Board’s decision today is the high point of my professional career, and it is a sincere honor to serve as the seventh President of Owens Community College. I pledge to make every effort to be the kind of leader who will inspire all of us to do our best to help all our students succeed – whether that means preparing for the workplace, or advancing to a four-year college or university.

Now that we have addressed many of our financial challenges, Owens Community College is well-positioned to help this region meet its workforce and college attainment goals. I am confident we can become the indispensable partner our K-12 and higher education providers need, as well as to supply the skills and training that employers in Northwest Ohio expect. With your expertise and experience, we will become an engine of workforce development for the businesses, hospitals, schools and agencies seeking trained, job-ready candidates for the careers of the future. It is an exciting time to be at Owens, and I hope you share my enthusiasm for the journey we are about to undertake together.

The best community colleges focus on four key areas of success: student learning, degree completion, equity, and labor market success. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to speaking with many of you and gaining your input about our future direction and priorities. Your insight and perspective will be critical as we undertake the development of a comprehensive strategic plan. Together, I want us to identify a clear vision for our institution, as well as a sustainable and resilient path forward. Northwest Ohio needs Owens Community College, and we must do all that we can to ensure that we are here to fulfill that important need well into the future.

In my conversations with community and business leaders, I constantly hear about the critical role Owens Community College plays in Northwest Ohio. With your help, I am confident we can build and expand that role to make an even larger contribution to this region’s growth and success.

Sincerely,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


Northwest Region Higher Education Compact

Posted on March 22nd, 2018

Earlier this week, we joined with the other public colleges and universities in our region to sign the Northwest Region Higher Education Compact, an expression of collaboration between Northwest State, Rhodes, Owens, Terra, Bowling Green State University and University of Toledo. I was fortunate enough to speak at the ceremony along with Chancellor John Carey, Dr. Sharon Gaber, UT President, and Dr. Rodney Rogers, BGSU President. Among other thoughts, my primary message was:

“Owens is proud of its strong working relationships with higher education partners in Northwest Ohio. This compact formalizes many existing partnerships, including our groundbreaking FalconExpress and RocketExpress dual admission programs with BGSU and University of Toledo. As a group of strong partners, this compact will help to facilitate our continued service to students, families and businesses in the region.”

From our perspective at Owens, this agreement simply formalizes the high degree of collaboration that already exists among the higher education institutions in our region. In this blog entry, I thought I would share some background and context on the compact agreement.

Required by State Law

These regional compacts are required by recent legislation; they are referred to as “Workforce education and efficiency compacts” in Ohio Revised Code. The Northwest Region Higher Education Compact covers 8 key areas and is modeled on language from the requirements spelled out in ORC 3345.59. Those areas are:

  1. Examine program duplication
  2. Develop regional workforce education strategies
  3. Enhance resource sharing
  4. Reduce operational/administrative costs
  5. Enhance career counseling
  6. Expand alternative delivery (e.g. competency-based/project-based learning)
  7. Increase collaboration with workforce initiatives, ASPIRE, and K-12 districts
  8. Develop strategies to enhance resource-sharing between institutions

Every region of the state is required to execute a similar compact that addresses the above topics. Below is the actual statutory requirement:

“Not later than June 30, 2018, all state institutions of higher education that are located in the same region of the state, as defined by the chancellor of higher education, shall enter into an agreement providing for the creation of a compact.”

At the suggestion of Dr. Sharon Gaber, our region worked to formulate the first compact in the state. Again, from our perspective at Owens, this compact agreement formalizes the existing collaboration that we routinely explore with our higher education partners in the region.

Collaboration in NW Ohio

Prior to the requirements that are spelled out in ORC 3345.59, a great deal of collaboration has taken place between and among the colleges and universities in Northwest Ohio. Two fantastic examples from Owens that have become state models of community college to university transfer are the FalconExpress and RocketExpress dual admissions programs we have created with BGSU and UT. Teams from the colleges and universities in the region frequently meet on the areas described in the compact language. These meetings and discussions will continue. It is important to point out that the compact does not require any signatory to take a specific course of action or participate in a particular initiative. In fact, the compact agreement specifically states:

“Its own appointed Boards of Trustees will govern each institution; each institution will maintain its own separate identity; and each institution shall have neither power nor authority to act for or bind the other institutions.”

The important bottom line is that nothing in this agreement prohibits Owens from doing what is best for our students, our institution, and the communities and businesses that we serve.

An Important Note on “Program Duplication”

Regarding Item #1, the review of so-called “duplicative programs” has already been completed by Interim Provost Denise Smith, and no programs will be impacted/eliminated due to duplication. While there are some duplicate programs within the region (Nursing is an example of a program that many of the colleges in the region each have), these programs all have strong enrollments and adequate workforce need to co-exist in the region.

A Copy of the Signed Agreement

Below, I have created a link with a copy of the actual signed agreement in PDF format:

NW Ohio Compact.signed 3.20.18

Quality higher education partners that share a geographic region should be exploring the topics outlined in the compact as a matter of course. This agreement formalizes that best practice inside a framework. Chancellor Carey was very pleased to see the high level of collaboration in our region, as were the legislators (including our own Sen. Randy Gardner) who attended the signing event.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


ODHE Campus Climate Survey

Posted on March 9th, 2018

Earlier today, I sent the following message to all faculty and staff regarding the ODHE Campus Climate survey that will be sent to students next week. This survey is part of our comprehensive efforts to create a safe and inclusive college climate:

As you may know, safety on college campuses has become an increasingly important issue over the past several years. At Owens Community College, we care about student safety and strive to provide a safe environment that encourages respect, support and prevention. In this effort, we are joining with other colleges and universities across the State to again participate in a Campus Climate Survey that is mandated by the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Beginning next week, students will receive a link to an anonymous survey that has been designed to measure perceptions of safety and experiences at Owens Community College.  The link to the survey will come in an email from the Owens Office of Student Conduct & Student Life. Students’ participation in this survey is completely voluntary and will help us to evaluate and improve our efforts to keep our campuses safe. Their responses will be completely anonymous and will not be linked to them in any way. Following participation in the survey, students will have an opportunity to enter into a drawing for one $100, one $50, and two $25 Visa gift cards.

Please be aware that the survey asks questions of a sensitive nature and for responses about different types of violence that students may have experienced. If you are approached by a student who has questions about the survey or is in need of additional assistance, information about available resources is provided below.

On-Campus Resources

  • Owens Counseling Services at 567-661-7168 (confidential)
  • YWCA Advocate at 419-705-6653 (confidential)
  • Title IX Website with resources and information at http://www.owens.edu/itsonus

Community Crisis Resources

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4763
  • YWCA H.O.P.E. Center at 866-557-7273 (Lucas County)
  • Cocoon Campus Advocacy Program at 419-352-1545 (Wood County)
  • Open Arms Crisis Center at 419-422-4766 (Hancock County)

Individuals with ethical concerns about the survey should contact Dr. Kristin Price, Chair Institutional Review Board by phone 567-661-7542 or email kristin_price@owens.edu.

The principle contact for this survey is James Katzner, Manager of Student Life and Deputy Title IX Coordinator.  You can reach him by phone 567-661-7159 or email james_katzner@owens.edu.

Thank you for all that you do to support our students.

Responsible Employees

Another element of our efforts in this area is our required Not Anymore training for “responsible employees” here at Owens. Responsible Employees are defined as Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Officers in DPS, Deans, Chairs, Directors, Department Heads, student organization advisors, and athletic coaches. This is excellent training; below is a copy of my personal certificate for completing the training:

If students ask about the survey, please take an opportunity to reinforce our institutional commitment to provide a college community that is free from sexual violence and harassment. I explored this topic at greater length in my very first blog entry of 2018.

Thank you,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


Findlay Campus

Posted on February 16th, 2018

This week I have been working from our Findlay Campus. We have great faculty, staff and students in Findlay. It has been a great week. Before I begin this entry, I want to thank everyone on the Findlay Campus for their warm and welcoming attitude and for stopping to say hello and chat.

The normal rhythm of my work actually takes me to Findlay and Hancock County often. Since becoming Interim President, I have made an extra effort to be present for events and meetings in Findlay. As a kind of experiment, I “flipped my schedule” and made the Findlay Campus my default location for a week. While down here, two employees asked me a direct question that took me off guard:

Q. Is the Findlay Campus going to close?

I hesitate to re-ask and answer this question on the blog because it seems so negative. But allow me to definitively, firmly, and emphatically (consult your Thesaurus for more adjectives) say:

NO.

I could provide a number of reasons for this answer, but the one I returned to when talking to employees is a visual answer. Consider the map below:

This is a map of our legal service district. It’s a map I made for the presentations I have been making at service clubs across Northwest Ohio. While it is kind of a stylized map (I am neither a graphic artist nor a geographer), the map is meant to tell a story. This is our territory. This is our part of the State.

As one of the 23 community colleges in the State of Ohio, we are the 2-year college for all of Lucas, Wood and Hancock Counties, as well as portions of Ottawa and Sandusky. It is our mission to serve the entirety of Hancock County for workforce training and university transfer. How on Earth could we fulfill this mission without our Findlay Campus?

No one can predict the future, so it is impossible to say that any particular building or program will always exist. But I am confident in publicly stating to our entire college community that Owens Community College has an enduring commitment to Hancock County, and our Findlay Campus is an important part of that commitment.

Full Employment

Enrollment is down at all of our locations, and the decline has been steeper in Findlay. This is due, in large part, to the positive state of the economy in our part of the State. While economists may differ on the definition of “full employment” in a particular geographic region, June unemployment numbers for communities in our area are at an all-time low. Hancock County is an economic and industrial success story, and it historically has the lowest unemployment rate of any area in our service district. Below is another graph I have been showing during my presentations across the district; I collected June unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period between 2006 and 2016:

Economic developers in the region, including our excellent partners in Findlay-Hancock Economic Development, stress the need for qualified workers in area industries. Companies are hungry for workers, and wages are relatively high for the traditional community college student demographic. Does the economic success of the Hancock County region mean it’s a difficult time and place to be a community college? Yes! But our mission and commitment to this part of our service district remains. Our job is to supply the best training and programs available given the current economic conditions in the region. In order to do that, we need our Findlay Campus.

As an historical footnote, here is a facsimile of Resolution 1994-66, the official action by the Ohio Board of Regents (now Ohio Department of Higher Education) outlining our service district when we moved from being a technical college to a community college:

Our service to Findlay and Hancock County obviously pre-dates the opening of the current Findlay Campus in 2005. This is yet another artifact demonstrating our lasting commitment to this part of the district.

Population 2030

Lately I have been thinking about demographics and population trends. A recent book entitled Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education by Nathan Grawe has raised some concerns among enrollment management professionals across the country. Grawe’s web site contains a great deal of the data he used to create the Higher Education Demand Index (HEDI), and I will probably write a future blog entry on this topic. While the demographics that predict demand for 2-year college into the 2020s are grim, there does not appear to be significant population decline in store for Hancock County. The rich data resources at the Ohio Development Services Agency show a steady/even projection for population in the County:

Again, I took data from State sources to plot some trends in my own spreadsheet; these are fairly simple data, but working with the numbers helps me understand and explain how population trends may impact our future work in the region:

While these numbers are obviously projections based on past census data, there are no indicators of significant population decline or outmigration in the southern part of our community college district.

Note: I thought it was kind of cool that our Findlay Campus actually appears on the map the Office of Research prepared for the Hancock County Ohio County Profile. Have a look:

What Does All This Mean?

Despite the fact that we emerged from Fiscal Watch without even considering the closure of the Findlay Campus, a few employees have assured me that the topic does come up in gossip and through the grape vine. Because of that, please take it from the Interim President that this is not under consideration. Period. In the near future, Owens Community College will need to engage in a district-wide, comprehensive, multi-year strategic plan. The future and vision for the Findlay Campus will need to be a central part of that plan. Meanwhile, rest assured that our great people and facilities in Hancock County have important work to do. And a final note for Owens employees who mainly work on the Toledo-area Campus: I personally encourage you to make a point of spending time in Findlay. Schedule time on the Findlay Campus and attend events there. It’s a great place.

 

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


The Flu: This Year Is Different

Posted on February 8th, 2018

A Quick Note About the 2017-2018 Influenza Season

While preparing for my blog entry on the opioid crisis, I spent some time on the very excellent web pages of the Ohio Department of Health. As you know, 2017-2018 has been a record flu season; flu-related hospitalizations are dramatically higher than the five year average:

https://www.odh.ohio.gov/en/seasflu/Ohio-Flu-Activity

Despite the fact that the flu indicators are now on the decline for this year, the current exposure risk is still several times higher than the peak in previous years. Consider the following data from the Ohio Influenza Surveillance page above.

If you are sick, please stay home! I spent a little time last weekend reviewing the HR literature on coming to work sick. This practice has a new, catchy name: “presenteeism.” Several authors stress the importance of senior leaders setting an example in their organization by not coming to work when they are ill. I recently informed the employees who work directly for me that I do not expect anyone to “tough it out” when they are sick. During my years as a faculty member, it was always very tempting to “power through” an illness because prepping a sub or making up for missed time can be very time consuming. Still, it is important to stay home!

We all work very hard, and when you are not feeling well, I would much prefer that employees stay home and rest in order to recover. I have asked our college leaders to encourage their team members to do the same. People who come to work ill are not productive, and they run the risk of spreading disease to co-workers. A quick look at that graph of this year’s flu hospitalizations is sobering. This year is different.

Stay healthy!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


Rossford Hosting: February Update

Posted on February 3rd, 2018

Update: February 3, 2018

On Friday, February 2, we learned that the Rossford school board has agreed to the proposed rental rates for dedicated and shared space for the temporary hosting agreement in AVCC/Math&Science/Library, as well as hourly/daily rental in SHAC and CFPA. The district had previously notified us that it was exploring other options for temporary space (see January 12 update below), but we now know that the Rossford school board supports the plans we have been discussing and that an official lease and operational agreement should be executed soon. Much has yet to be finalized, and there is a great deal of work to do in the future. This is a strategically important partnership for Owens and will generate revenue for the College. I will provide updates on the lease and operating agreement when official documents are prepared and signed by both parties.

Background

NOTE: This information has been shared previously here on my blog; I wanted to re-post an updated version for employees who may not have seen it back in September.

As many of you know, teams from Rossford City Schools and Owens Community College have been meeting to discuss the possibility of hosting Rossford High School while the district completes a major construction project in late 2018. The specific spaces under consideration are in AVCC/Math & Science/SHAC/Library, and CFPA. The time frame of the hosting arrangement would be limited: approximately one academic year to 18 months. This would not be a permanent arrangement. In addition to furthering our partnership with Rossford, the hosting arrangement will provide rental income for the college during a time of decreased space utilization. A draft lease agreement was provided to Rossford in October 2017, but it has not been finalized or executed.

A team of stakeholders, including representatives from impacted areas, has been meeting regularly to plan for the hosting possibility. When facilities has a specific lease agreement and timeline, formal communications will be sent to the campus community.

Previous Updates

UPDATE: January 12, 2018

Owens remains committed to hosting Rossford High School under the terms we have been discussing with the District for over a year. On Thursday 1/11/2018, however, the District notified us that it is currently exploring other options in the area. We understand that both entities must make decisions which are best for their respective stakeholders and taxpayers. Discussions continue on the draft lease agreement that was provided to Rossford in October. I will update our internal community about the status of that lease agreement as the situation develops.

September 25, 2017

After the most recent meeting with Rossford about the potential hosting/lease arrangement, the Marketing & Communications has set up a “landing page” on the Owens intranet for updates on this issue. As new details are finalized, information will be posted at the following address on the intranet: https://intranet.owens.edu/rossford/

May 5, 2017

Owens is committed to our partnership with Rossford, and we are planning ways to be prepared for a lease arrangement during this important transition. We are currently identifying spaces on our Perrysburg campus for the potential hosting of Rossford High School in the Fall of 2018. The specific arrangements and lease provisions have not been finalized.

As before, if employees have questions or concerns about the possibility of hosting Rossford, I would be happy to talk with you and/or connect you with the appropriate Owens department that handles a specific issue. During my 15 years as a full-time community college faculty member, I taught in a building that also hosted a K-12 high school. I found this to be a rewarding and enriching teaching environment; in fact, I co-taught 11th grade for a few years and this was some of the most rewarding time I have spent in a classroom.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


Campus Awareness of Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

Posted on January 26th, 2018

One of my favorite annual committee assignments is serving on our Outstanding Service Awards Selection Committee here at Owens. This is the committee that selects the award winners among nominations of police officers, firefighters, emergency medical professionals for our annual recognition ceremony. Reviewing the nominations is always a moving and emotional experience for me; the bravery and selfless dedication of the first responders in our community is nothing short of amazing.

This year’s set of nominations contained a large number of community tragedies involving opioids and overdose, including an off-campus response by our own Owens Community College Police Department. The impact of the opioid epidemic is being felt across our service district here at Owens, and we need to do everything that we can to address it. One of the best things we can do is something in which we excel: learning.

In September of last year, I attended an excellent presentation on the local impact of the opioid crisis here in Northwest Ohio by Wood County Sheriff Mark Waslyshyn. In November, General Counsel Lisa Nagel and our Department of Public Safety hosted an event for our campus community on this important subject with Sheriff Waslyshyn as the speaker. This event is one of many that we plan to promote as a way to build awareness about the crisis among our faculty, staff and students.

Sheriff Waslyshyn is also a member of the Outstanding Service Awards Selection Committee, and our group had an important discussion about the increasing number of overdose incidents reflected in the nominations. During the conversation, he showed us the dose of Narcan that he and his officers carry with them at all times. I asked if I could snap a photo with my phone in order to share with our community:

This simple nasal dose of Narcan can save a life in an overdose situation. In fact, I learned this morning that some intense overdoses may require several administrations of Narcan in order to be effective. I am very appreciative for the Sheriff’s efforts to inform our college community about this crisis.

NOTE: My many years as a classroom teacher and a faculty nomenclator at graduation have translated into a strong desire to pronounce people’s names correctly. I may not always succeed, but I always make my best attempt. If you happen to meet the Sheriff out in the community, know that his name is pronounced: “VAH-shuh-LISH-uhn.”

Our Service District and Drug Overdose Deaths

Earlier this month, an excellent article in University Business began with some shocking Ohio statistics about drug overdoses.  Jennifer Smola from the Columbus Dispatch noted that over 4,300 Ohioans died of drug overdoses in 2016: a number larger than the entire freshman class at Ohio University, and also larger than the number of students who walked in graduation at Ohio State. Of those 2016 overdose deaths, 233 occurred in the counties within our service district: 157 in Lucas; 21 in Wood; 19 in Hancock; 14 in Ottawa; and 22 in Sandusky. From 2011-2016, these same counties accounted for 849 overdose deaths, according to an excellent report by the Ohio Department of Health.

The graph above appears in that same report and expresses overdose death rates by county. As you can see, other regions of the state are more severely impacted, but the effect of the opioid crisis on our service area is significant. As college employees, it is important that we build campus awareness about this growing problem.

As the Ohio Department of Health 2016 Drug Overdose Data report demonstrates, one of the major factors in the dramatic rise in deaths is a single compound: Fentanyl. Consider the following graph found on page 5 of the report.

This is one of many graphs and charts that attempt to make sense of the tragic data on overdose deaths in our state. I encourage members of our campus community to have a look at the report and become aware of this major crisis.

What Can Community Colleges Do?

Recently, Board Chair Dee Talmage sent me an excellent article from the Fall 2017 edition of Trustee Quarterly entitled “Addiction, Recovery, and Student Success” by Michael R. Deleon, a trustee at Cumberland County College in New Jersey. The subtitle of Trustee Deleon’s article is “Community colleges are well positioned to take the lead in solutions.” Two of his specific recommendations are worth highlighting here. One is building awareness among faculty and staff. The presentation in November by Sheriff Waslyshyn is an excellent start, and we will continue to plan and promote initiatives that build awareness. A second suggestion made by Trustee Deleon is that college administrators should be aware of community resources on addiction and inform students about them. Our informational web page on Alcohol and Drugs contains this information, but it is worth re-printing here:

  • Arrowhead Behavioral Health – (800) 547-5695
  • Behavioral Connections of Wood County: (419) 352-5387 — Wood County
  • Century Health South Campus (Findlay), 419-425-5050
  • Comprehensive Addiction Services System: (419) 241-8827 — Lucas and Wood County
  • Rescue Mental Health and Addiction Services, Contact them 24/7, 419-255-9585
  • St. Charles Hospital: (419) 696-7523 — Lucas and Wood County
  • Substance Abuse Services Inc.: (419) 243-7274, Toledo Hospital — Wood County
  • Toledo Hospital – Alcohol & Drug Treatment: (419) 291-2300 — Lucas and Wood County

I will add one more to this list for Findlay/Hancock County:

  • Hancock County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services – Crisis Hotline: (888) 936-7116

Putting a Face on the Crisis

At a recent meeting of the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP), outgoing RGP Chair Doug Pontsler showed a video about the opioid crisis.  Doug will be retiring from Owens Corning where he currently serves as Vice President for Environmental Health and Safety. Doug ends every meeting of the RGP with a “safety share,” and a few of these information items have been related to opioids over the time I have served on the RGP Board. I found this video particularly moving:

In closing, I encourage everyone here at Owens to learn as much as you can about the crisis we face with opioids and addiction. While we may not have residence halls or places where students and others frequently use illegal drugs, this is an issue that impacts our entire community and the region. The more we know about the crisis, the better we can serve our students and our communities.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


2018 Rossford High School Update

Posted on January 12th, 2018

As we make our way through more challenging Winter weather here at the beginning of the semester, I would like to provide an update for employees about the potential to host Rossford High School on the Perrysburg campus in 2018. Directly below is an update as of today; the rest of this blog entry contains information from previous updates to our campus community about the potential hosting arrangement.

UPDATE: January 12, 2018

Owens remains committed to hosting Rossford High School under the terms we have been discussing with the District for over a year. On Thursday 1/11/2018, however, the District notified us that it is currently exploring other options in the area. We understand that both entities must make decisions which are best for their respective stakeholders and taxpayers. Discussions continue on the draft lease agreement that was provided to Rossford in October. I will update our internal community about the status of that lease agreement as the situation develops.

Background

NOTE: This information has been shared previously here on my blog; I wanted to re-post an updated version for employees who may not have seen it back in September.

As many of you know, teams from Rossford City Schools and Owens Community College have been meeting to discuss the possibility of hosting Rossford High School while the district completes a major construction project in late 2018. The specific spaces under consideration are in AVCC/Math & Science/SHAC/Library, and CFPA. The time frame of the hosting arrangement would be limited: approximately one academic year to 18 months. This would not be a permanent arrangement. In addition to furthering our partnership with Rossford, the hosting arrangement will provide rental income for the college during a time of decreased space utilization. A draft lease agreement was provided to Rossford in October 2017, but it has not been finalized or executed.

A team of stakeholders, including representatives from impacted areas, has been meeting regularly to plan for the hosting possibility. When facilities has a specific lease agreement and timeline, formal communications will be sent to the campus community.

Previous Updates

September 25, 2017

After the most recent meeting with Rossford about the potential hosting/lease arrangement, the Marketing & Communications has set up a “landing page” on the Owens intranet for updates on this issue. As new details are finalized, information will be posted at the following address on the intranet: https://intranet.owens.edu/rossford/

May 5, 2017

Owens is committed to our partnership with Rossford, and we are planning ways to be prepared for a lease arrangement during this important transition. We are currently identifying spaces on our Perrysburg campus for the potential hosting of Rossford High School in the Fall of 2018. The specific arrangements and lease provisions have not been finalized.

As before, if employees have questions or concerns about the possibility of hosting Rossford, I would be happy to talk with you and/or connect you with the appropriate Owens department that handles a specific issue. During my 15 years as a full-time community college faculty member, I taught in a building that also hosted a K-12 high school. I found this to be a rewarding and enriching teaching environment; in fact, I co-taught 11th grade for a few years and this was some of the most rewarding time I have spent in a classroom.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


First Day of Spring 2018

Posted on January 8th, 2018

Welcome Back!

Today is the first day of class for Spring 2018! Mother Nature had other plans, however, as a wintry mix of snow and ice created snow emergency conditions across our College district and the region. Following our Severe Weather Policy, our team made the decision to delay opening of all Campuses and locations to noon, and a notice went out to our entire campus community at 6:12 a.m.

By the time I arrived early this morning, the red plow trucks and giant Caterpillar snowpushers had already cleared most of the snow from the Toledo-area campus. Since it will be a few hours before our locations are actually open, I thought I’d create a blog entry on the decision process regarding weather-related campus closures. But first…

Special thanks to our fantastic Facilities crew for their expert work in clearing the snow from our parking lots, side streets and walkways. They were out working to make this campus safe before most of us were out of bed this morning; well done!

Our Owens Community College Severe Weather Policy can be found here:

https://www.owens.edu/news/weather.html

This page contains information for how to sign up for Owens Alerts via text, phone, and e-mail. I strongly recommend that all students and staff register for these emergency notifications. You may also check local media, and our social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

Safety of Students and Employees is First

The decision to close the College or delay a start time is always a serious one, especially on the first day of classes, but the safety of our people is always the number one consideration. During my entire career, campus closure decisions have either directly impacted my teaching and work, or have been part of my job responsibility. While these decisions might seem simple, they are not. A number of important factors must be considered, including conditions on campus, local roadways, as well as other the open/close status of other higher education and K-12 institutions. Our Facilities and Public Safety teams monitor all kinds of weather and traffic data to determine conditions.

One helpful element for snow-related college closing is the classification systems used by the State of Ohio. The following Snow Emergency Classifications are used state-wide:

LEVEL 1: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Motorists are urged to drive very cautiously.

LEVEL 2: Roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be very icy. Only those who feel it is necessary to drive should be out on the roads. Contact your employer to see if you should report to work. Motorists should use extreme caution.

LEVEL 3: All roadways are closed to non-emergency personnel. No one should be driving during these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary to travel or a personal emergency exists. All employees should contact their employer to see if they should report to work. Those traveling on the roads may subject themselves to arrest.

During Level 3 conditions, the decision on campus closure is made for us. The difficult decisions arise when campus is clear, but Level 2 conditions exist. As I write this, Hancock, Wood, Ottawa and Sundusky Counties are at Level 1; Lucas County remains at Level 2. Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo are open.

NOTE: I have known about the Snow Emergency Classifications since I moved to Ohio, but I was unaware that Ohio has a Committee for Severe Weather Awareness. The Committee was formed in 1978. That’s pretty neat!

In my experience, nearly any decision on a weather-related closure will be unpopular with some. When I was the Dean of Health Sciences at my previous college, the faculty and staff never wanted to cancel classes given the required clinical hours for their programs; conversely, faculty and staff who lived far away from campus were often concerned when the college remained open during inclement weather. And we always know that individual family schedules can be disrupted when local K-12 schools are cancelled for weather-related transportation problems. My approach has been to gather as much accurate information as possible from a variety of stakeholders, then make a timely and unambiguous decision. Once a decision is made, it is important to communicate that information as widely as possible.

While this isn’t the start we planned for our Spring 2018 semester, I want to wish everyone a great first day of class. Thank you for understanding about the weather-related delay. If you see any of our Facilities and Public Safety crew on campus today, please extend a special thank you for their great work in making our campuses and locations safe for learning!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President