President's Blog


Mission/Vision/Values: A Case Study

Posted on June 13th, 2018

During our amazing volleyball season, many of us became familiar with Lincoln Land Community College (Personally, I could not get the image of a tin can of Lincoln Logs out of my head when I thought of them, but we were fierce competitors then). A while back, I encouraged members of our college community to start poking around the Web for community college strategic planning information; I have been doing the same, and I thought I would share what Lincoln Land has published:

http://www.llcc.edu/explore-llcc/mission-vision-values/

NOTE: I am not offering Lincoln Land up as a model for our strategic plan! It is a good case study, however, as the artifacts of their process really do represent a kind of “archetype” of what a normal/common practice would be for colleges that regularly engage in planning activities.

A few observations about what Lincoln Land has published here:

  1. In many ways, the mission/vision/values here reflect the “standard” for 2-year college planning. The mission statement is brief, yet it defines and differentiates the institution; the vision statement is aspirational and describes a desired future state for the college; the 5 values are reflective of the 2-year college mission. In short, these are “good” statements that reflect a typical community college.
  2. The college has a manageable number of goals (6), and these also reflect the national view of what quality community colleges should be doing. The goals also appear to be measurable. Divisions of the college that are driving toward these goals and keeping track of their progress would be adding value and helping to propel the college in a single, focused direction.
  3. There is a dashboard tool that runs in Adobe Acrobat; it was created in 2009, but it looks like it has not been updated since FY13 or calendar year 2015. At one point, these “balanced scorecard” or “strategic dashboard” approaches were the “killer app” in organizational planning. It’s not clear how much Lincoln Land uses this dashboard, or if it is kept up to date. I encourage you to play around with that tool. What do you think? I have attached a PDF “click through” document of what you see when you “drill in” to the data on the dashboard.

PDF “clickthrough” of Lincoln Land Dashboard

At some point in the near future, I encourage anyone interested in 2-year college planning to spend a little time looking at Lincoln Land as a case study. What do you think about this approach?

I’m excited to kick start this work in the Fall. IR has already completed the “mission statement” input form/survey, which we will deploy during Opening Week. After that, we will be facilitating 2-hour input sessions for internal and external stakeholders; these sessions will give participants an opportunity to provide input on the VISION (aspirational statement of a desired future state), and potential GOALS.

Onward!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

 

P.S. A further note about dashboards. While these graphic representations of progress are cool, they are only worth building if they will be USED. There was a time when cutting edge colleges “had to have” a dashboard. Denise Smith and Anne Fulkerson are discussing the need for such a tool, and they have even talked to an external vendor that provides such services. It’s an open question if we “need” such a tool. Again, we don’t want to build one of these just to have it.


Aspen Top 10 College Mission Statements

Posted on May 25th, 2018

The mission statement for Owens Community College is over 15 years old. It first appeared in this form in the College’s 2002 Annual Report, and it has not been revised since. The current statement does not define or differentiate Owens Community College. A central part of our 2019-2021 strategic planning work will center on discussions of our mission with a variety of internal and external stakeholders.

NOTE: We will NOT be changing or revising the college tagline, “your success starts here.” This is a vital part of our identity that has taken decades to build here in our region.

But our mission statement needs to change to reflect the unique and important role we play in Northwest Ohio.

Benchmarking Community College Missions

As a quick benchmarking exercise, here are the mission statements for the 10 finalist colleges for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence that were announced earlier this month. These mission statements range in length from 11 words to 92 words, but all of them seek to define and differentiate the college. These statements are excellent models to consider as we move forward with our strategic planning process.

I have provided links to the mission, vision and values pages for these colleges (just click on the name of the college). Many of these pages also contain links to the current strategic plan for that institution. The colleges are listed in alphabetical order (as they are in the Aspen Prize press release).

Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College – San Antonio, TX

“To inspire, empower, and educate our community for leadership and success.”

Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL

“Transforming students’ lives and enriching our diverse community through academic excellence, innovation, and meaningful career opportunities.”

CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, NY

“Kingsborough Community College of The City University of New York is a comprehensive community college providing both liberal arts and career education. It is dedicated to promoting student learning and development as well as strengthening and serving its diverse community.”

Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL

“As a leader in education and innovation, Indian River State College transforms lives by offering high-quality, affordable and accessible education to the residents of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie counties through traditional and online delivery. IRSC is a comprehensive college accredited to award Baccalaureate Degrees, Associate Degrees, and Career and Technical Certificates.”

Miami Dade College  – Miami, FL

“As democracy’s college, Miami Dade College changes lives through accessible, high-quality teaching and learning experiences. The College embraces its responsibility to serve as an economic, cultural and civic leader for the advancement of our diverse global community.”

Mitchell Technical Institute – Mitchell, SD

“It is the mission of Mitchell Technical Institute to provide skills for success in technical careers.”

Odessa College – Odessa, TX

“Odessa College shall lead the way in preparing its students and community for the future.  The College District offers exemplary courses, programs, and services to assist students in achieving their educational goals and becoming lifelong learners, community builders, and global citizens.  Odessa College shall empower its employees to model excellence in their service to students, colleagues, and the community.”

Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA

“The mission of Pasadena City College is to provide a high quality, academically robust learning environment that encourages, supports and facilitates student learning and success. The College provides an academically rigorous and comprehensive curriculum for students pursuing educational and career goals as well as learning opportunities designed for individual development. The College is committed to providing access to higher education for members of the diverse communities within the District service area and to offering courses, programs, and other activities to enhance the economic conditions and the quality of life in these communities.”

Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom – Lakewood, WA

“Pierce College creates quality educational opportunities for a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world.”

San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX

“Our mission is to ensure student success, create seamless transitions and enrich the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

Another common feature of the mission statements from these highly-recognized colleges is that they are very specific to the region and context of the college itself. This will also be true of our new mission statement. Our new mission statement will need to be specific to Owens Community College; it will define and differentiate our institution in the context of our region, as well as the students and communities we serve.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

 


Strategic Planning 2019-2021

Posted on May 23rd, 2018

It is time for Owens Community College to develop a multi-year, comprehensive strategic plan.

One of Stephen Covey’s famous 7 habits is “begin with the end in mind.” (That’s habit #2 if you have read the book). As we begin our strategic planning process for 2019-2021, I think it’s important that we start by describing what will come out of this process. So let’s start there:

We will present a 3-year strategic plan to the Board of Trustees at their February 26, 2019 retreat. Developed over an eight-month time period with extensive internal and external stakeholder input, this plan will outline refreshed mission, vision and values statements for Owens Community College, as well as a comprehensive set of strategic goals and metrics. 

That is the “end” result of the plan development, but the process will not end there. In fact, the Board adoption of the plan will just be the beginning.

In the coming months, many of my entries here on the President’s Blog will concern our strategic planning process. This process will be a great deal of work, but it will also be incredibly engaging. Having done this many times, I can tell you that the conversations we are about to have regarding the future of Owens Community College will be exciting. Our work on the strategic planning process will fall into three phases.

Phase I: Planning & Organization (May – August 2018)

During this first phase, we will begin “planning to plan.” In other words, we will be building the infrastructure and capacity to conduct our planning process. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. Owens has an existing set of mission, vision and values statements. We also have an existing set of Strategic Priorities for fiscal year 2018. The mission, vision and values are quite old, however, and the strategic priorities were developed with a very small number of stakeholders. Both will need to be refreshed, and a great deal of internal, external and community-specific stakeholders will need to be engaged to create a quality 2019-2021 plan. The official start of that “Phase II” part of the process will be opening week of the 2018-2019 academic year at the end of August.

Phase II: Stakeholder Engagement (September – November 2018)

One of the most important things we are currently planning in Phase I is the structure of our internal and external stakeholder engagement activities. For me, this is what I call “the fun part.” Internally, we will lead very focused sessions that ask our employees to engage two large strategic questions: “What are your hopes and dreams for Owens in the future?” and “What are the most pressing organizational goals for Owens in the next three years?” These discussions will take place on campus during work hours as part of our daily routine. We are currently planning for the structure, facilitation and schedule of these events. My goal is to engage every employee who wants to play a role in shaping our future in this process. We will also be scheduling similar stakeholder events for the community. This will take place across our service district in locations such as public libraries, city council chambers, fire halls, etc. I have worked on numerous community engagement projects such as these. Not only are the events interesting and fun, but they also promote dialogue and good will about our College.

Phase III: Analysis, Formulation & Adoption (December 2018 – February 2019)

By Thanksgiving 2018 (November 22), the majority of the stakeholder engagement activity will have been completed. We will then have a great deal of data and input, and the work to analyze and synthesize what we have learned will begin. The work to revise and update our mission statement, along with the vision and values statements will take place during this phase. Goals will be thematically grouped into categories (similar to the Strategic Priorities document that is currently in place). Very important in this process will be the assignment of metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) that will allow us to assess our progress toward the new goals during the 2019-2021 timeframe. Drafts of these statements and goals will be posted for review, and the Board will see a “first reading” of a proposed plan at the regular Board meeting in February. The “begin with the end in mind” goal is to present a final 2019-2021 Strategic Plan to the Board of Trustees for their consideration and possible adoption on February 26, 2019.

I realize that this seems like a great deal of work. Owens Community College has gone for a considerable amount of time without a formal, multi-year, comprehensive strategic plan. I am excited to move forward with this busy but engaging part of our journey together. The planning process will bring with it a great deal of dialogue, soul searching, and introspection. Most importantly, it will be an opportunity for us to ask ourselves and the students and communities we serve what should be and what we should do.

And I am quite serious when I say it is going to be fun. I look forward to working with you on this very important process.

Sincerely,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

 


Indispensable Partner

Posted on May 21st, 2018

I was recently asked to submit a very brief guest column in the Toledo Business Journal. I thought I would post my short, 530-word column here on the blog. The audience for this piece is business owners in our region. Our graduates and the participants in our many workforce training programs are vital to the economic vitality of Northwest Ohio. In this column, I attempt to highlight our strength of corporate training and workforce development; I also encourage business leaders to reach out to us for their higher education and workforce training needs.

The phrase “indispensable partner” is something that came out of the focus group work during the presidential search. Because I was a candidate, I did not participate in those forums. But that phrase is a fantastic way to express one portion of our vision for the future. As we work to help our region with important social and economic issues such as college affordability, degree attainment and workforce development, we want our local partners to say “thank goodness we have Owens Community College,” or perhaps “What would we do without Owens Community College?”

TBJ Workforce Update – June 2018

In the paragraph about corporate training, I tell a real story about the grand opening of the Dana Toledo Driveline facility. Because the Toledo Business Journal is a trade publication, I decided not to name the corporation in the article, but I feel it is appropriate to discuss it here. Our team was so proud to hear the Dana executives describe how crucial their partnership with Owens Community College was for the successful launch of their facility. Many months earlier, we traveled to an existing Dana facility in Dry Ridge, Kentucky to help design their pre-employment assessment and onboarding. Working with Dana’s HR and plant management team, Owens was truly an “indispensable partner” for Dana.

 

Here is the text of my guest column:

 

Your Workforce Success Starts Here:

Owens Community College seeks to be an indispensable partner for our region.

As the newly-appointed president of Owens Community College, I am delighted to serve the students, communities and businesses of Northwest Ohio. Because I am not new to the College, I have had the privilege to work with a wide variety of corporations and organizations for a number of years here in Northwest Ohio. For over fifty years, Owens has played a pivotal role in the economic development of our region. Our graduates are critical to the schools, hospitals, businesses and agencies that make our community thrive. We strive to be an engine of workforce development that prepares our students for in-demand jobs and fosters innovative solutions to the issues facing our region.

As one of Ohio’s 23 public two-year colleges, Owens is proud to be the community college for the entirety of Lucas, Wood, and Hancock counties, as well as school districts in Ottawa and Sandusky counties, which comprise our legal service district. We are proud to be your community college.

A vital part of our vision for Owens Community College is to be an indispensable partner for the success of Northwest Ohio. We want to work with you.

Corporate Training

One particular strength of Owens is our Workforce and Community Services (WCS) division, which works directly with companies to strengthen and develop their workforce. Given the workforce demands currently placed on our community partners, WCS provides vital support for interview events, onboarding, and pre-employment assessment. At a recent grand opening of a major manufacturing facility here in the region, I sat with pride as a number of corporate leaders spoke about our teams at Owens from the podium. They commented on the quality of our workforce support for the launch of their facility, and several company leaders said they could not have executed their work so quickly and efficiently without the help of Owens Community College. It is our goal to replicate those experiences across the region and become the indispensable partner our community needs.

Strategic Planning.

During the Fall of 2018, our team at Owens Community College will be launching a strategic planning process. We need the input of our local businesses as we formulate our goals for the next several years. 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 develop a 2019-2022 strategic plan. As we work to craft our strategic plan and vision for the future, I ask that you and your business become involved in the community stakeholder events that will take place in the Fall of 2018. If you are able, we would love your input on the programs and services that impact your industry. We value the input of our business and community partners who serve on program advisory groups that help keep our programs current. I would be delighted to hear from you directly: steve_robinson@owens.edu

I ask that you help craft our vision for the future as we work together to help our region thrive.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President


Community College Month 2018

Posted on April 30th, 2018

As Community College Month draws to a close, most of us here at Owens are preparing for commencement exercises on Friday, May 4. This is my absolute favorite time of year. The many awards ceremonies, Police Academy graduation ceremonies, Nurse’s pinnings, the Honors Symposium… the days are filled with celebration of our students’ success and the great work our faculty and staff have done during the semester.

One piece of Community College Month that seems to be different in 2018 has to do with something that has troubled me for a long time: the uninformed stigma against community colleges.

Community College Stigma

During many on-campus presentations and a number of talks in the community, I have shared my view on the unfair stereotypes of two-year colleges in the United States. I use two examples from my own history and career. I grew up near another OCC, which some of the local high school kids called “Only Chance College.” I taught my very first community college class at LCC, which the kids called “Last Chance College.” Many (if not most) community colleges have a pejorative nickname. A few people have shared with me the disparaging name given to Owens (though I must say that I have only heard this from Owens employees–I’ve never heard it out in the community, and I refuse to even repeat it for the reasons below).

In my experience, people create nasty nicknames for people and things they do not understand. As community colleges, we have excellent faculty, highly transferrable courses, and quality facilities. We need to do a better job of telling our story. What I find different about 2018 is that our story seems to be taking hold in the national media. In the space of a week, I noticed prominent stories in national news outlets such as NPR, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Consider the following recent Wall Street Journal headlines:

Then there is my favorite headline from the Dallas Morning News by Bethany Reed:

No, we can’t. In her article, Reed does what I think we all should do in our own spheres of influence: tell our story wherever we go. Her article pushes back against what she calls the bias against community colleges by recounting four real and recent conversations she had in her daily life. This is something everyone in our college community has the ability to do. I am sure that many of you do this already, but I encourage everyone here at Owens to tell our stories outside of campus.

Returning to Reed’s headline, the idea that we “cannot afford” to be snobs about community colleges is supported by evidence. It is well known that important skilled trades jobs go unfilled in most regions of the country. We are literally paying a price in terms of lost productivity and social mobility by thinking of community college as a “lesser than” option after high school. And there is even greater evidence that this thinking is simply wrong. Consider this interesting graph from a recent publication of the National Center for Education Statistics:

Not only do students who earn an occupational credential have a higher employment rate; they also have a significantly higher likelihood of working in a job that is related to their field of study.

I am a firm believer in the value of the bachelor’s degree, and a central part of our mission at Owens Community College will always be to prepare university-bound students for successful transfer. That is a central part of who we are as a comprehensive community college. But equally important is the other part of our mission: directly preparing students for the workforce through certificates and degrees, as well as non-credit and corporate training. That is also a central part of who we are as an institution that was founded as a technical college.

As employees, we should never miss an opportunity to tell our story for both of these core missions at which we excel. And that is something we should do not just during April and Community College Month, but year round.

See you at graduation!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

 


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.
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.
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