President's Blog


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

 


Sexual Harassment Is Not Tolerated at Owens

Posted on January 3rd, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

At the risk of seeming like a workaholic, I don’t mind sharing that I spent time over the holiday break thinking about the subject for my first blog entry of the New Year–even while on vacation in the Wasatch Mountains. Given the recent attention to sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace, I decided to address this important issue at the beginning of the year to signal how seriously we take this issue here at Owens.

In several industries around the world, 2017 saw a kind of unmasking of sexual misconduct and harassment that had lurked below the surface in the workplace for many years, especially in the areas of entertainment and politics. Higher education was a part of this tipping point as well; several colleges and universities had high-profile incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment in 2017, including my alma mater Michigan State University. Even well-intentioned and competent leaders can handle these issues poorly. Such incidents raise important questions about institutional culture and the role that leaders play in addressing sexual misconduct and harassment. As I looked out from about 9,000 feet on Mount Ogden in Utah, I thought deeply about our culture here at Owens and what my responsibility was as Interim President.

Why Address This Issue Out of the Blue?

Based on my long career in higher education and the training I have received on this subject, I think the most important thing I can say from my position is this: Owens Community College strongly opposes and will not tolerate sexual misconduct or harassment. Period. I firmly believe this, but these are not my personal words; it is a fairly direct paraphrase of our actual Board policy on the subject, which also states:

“The college recognizes all employees and students should be able to work and learn in safety and dignity and should not have to endure insulting, degrading or objectionable treatment.”

Our anti-harassment and discrimination policy is quite strong, and if you have not had a chance to read it, I encourage you to do so. Having a policy is one thing, but it important to build a culture surrounding that policy. In June of 2016, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) published an important task force report on harassment in the workplace. In this report, the task force authors state that the tone for a culture that rejects sexual harassment and misconduct is set at the top of the organization:

“Workplace culture has the greatest impact on allowing harassment to flourish, or conversely, in preventing harassment. The importance of leadership cannot be overstated – effective harassment prevention efforts, and workplace culture in which harassment is not tolerated, must start with and involve the highest level of management of the company.”

So that is why my first blog entry of the year concerns this very timely topic. I want to do everything I can to establish that our workplace culture has no tolerance for harassment.

#MeToo / It’s On Us

From my perspective as Interim President, our institution has taken proactive measures to address sexual misconduct and harassment. Sadly, we have had incidents of sexual misconduct during my time in the President’s Office, and I have been proud of the empathy and professionalism displayed by our employees who work directly in this area. While it is important that College systems and leadership respond to issues as they arise, it is equally important that we work on this important problem when there is no incident at hand. That is why I am writing this blog entry: to remind our college community of the importance of a workplace free of sexual harassment and misconduct, and that all incidents of sexual harassment and misconduct should be reported to Human Resources.

In closing, please let me direct you to our Owens Community College policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct and harassment. As I write this, I feel like the flight attendant inviting you to review the safety features of the aircraft that can be found in the seat pocket in front of you. Still, I sincerely feel that all Owens employees should read these short policies and procedures.

Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Policy
https://www.owens.edu/trustees/board_policies/11-4-17.pdf

Sexual Misconduct Procedures
https://www.owens.edu/trustees/procedures/proc3358-11-4-17-titleIX.pdf

These are excellent documents, and they provide an appropriate structure for us to build a shared understanding about this issue as an organization. But in order for them to be effective, our lived culture must match what we say in words. Together, let’s build and maintain a culture that lives out these policies.

Welcome to the Spring 2018 semester… have a great year!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 


A World of Best Wishes

Posted on December 21st, 2017

Happy Holidays!

At this time of year, we are reminded that it takes people from different walks of life to make Owens Community College the great institution that it is. It’s support from each of you that allows us to carry out our mission of success year after year. So from all of us here at Owens, Happy Holidays and World of Best Wishes.

Like other colleges and universities in the region, we produced a brief video Holiday Card to share with our internal and external stakeholders. Our 2017 Holiday Card here at Owens was exceptional. I want to thank everyone in Marketing for a job well done. The graphic design, videography, writing and staging was accomplished “in house” by our great Marketing team. All I had to do was memorize the three sentences above and show up in the right color sweater!

Owens Community College  – Holiday Card 2017

This video features our own students and employees passing on seasonal best wishes in a variety of languages and reflects a variety of cultural holiday traditions. I have received very positive feedback about our card from people across the state.

A Personal Note of Thanks

As 2017 draws to a close, so does my first 6 months as Interim President. I want to thank all the students, faculty and staff who have made my job a sincere joy during these past several months. Thank you for making Fall 2017 the most rewarding semester of my 25-year career in community colleges. Over the past few years, we have all come together to work through difficult times. With our financial crisis and recovery in the rear-view mirror, we can now focus on a resilient and sustainable path forward. We remain a vital asset for Northwest Ohio, and I am confident that our commitment to student success and economic development will propel us toward a bright future.

On behalf of all of us in the President’s Office and the Board of Trustees, thank you for your hard work, optimism and support. The passion that our people have for students inspires me, and I am very much looking forward to a remarkable 2018.

See you next year!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

 

 


37th Fall Commencement

Posted on December 14th, 2017

I have always loved graduation, but our Owens Community College commencement ceremonies are very special to me. We do an excellent job with commencement. Each semester, I am amazed by the excellent work of our team that plans and executes our ceremony. This semester’s ceremony was special for me, as this is my 25th year taking part in community college graduation ceremonies, and my very first time presiding over commencement in the role of President.

Class Representative: Kozait Elkhatib

Our student speaker, Class Representative Kozait Elkhatib, did a fantastic job with her speech. During her remarks, Ms. Elkhatib described living through several wars in her home country before coming to the United States. She delivered a small portion of her speech in Arabic for her mother and then translated it into English for the audience. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in business and will transfer to Tiffin University. One of the highlights of commencement for me this year was listening to Kozait practice her speech in the SHAC as a supportive faculty member, Cathy Pratt, listened with pride.

Keynote Speaker: Jack Hershey

Our keynote speaker for Fall 2017 Commencement was Jack Hershey, President of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC). I have been very impressed with Jack and his team over the years.  In most regions of the country, community colleges have a difficult time telling their story and presenting their issues to lawmakers. During his time as President of OACC, Jack and his team have succeeded in teaching elected officials what we do for students and why we are important. Increasingly, he has done what very few states have been able to do: get the legislature to stop lumping us in with the 4-year universities and pay attention to the very real difference that community colleges make in students’ lives. Between his lobbying efforts at the State House and his support for our Ohio Student Success Center, Jack Hershey has made a measurable and important difference in the lives of community college students. Jack delivered a memorable speech about Batman. Yes… Batman! His point was that, while Batman has no superpowers, his great strength comes from being a life-long learner.

Economic Impact of Commencement

During my remarks, I pretended to give the graduates a brief “lecture” on the economics of their accomplishment. We had fun with that part: the graduates groaned when I told them that I would be lecturing them, and I kept my remarks brief. I explained the difference between three key economic concepts: price, cost and value. Then I cited two recent studies on the economic impact of earning an associate’s degree. Earlier in the week, I shared the same information with a Kiwanis club in Bowling Green and a Rotary club in Sylvania by showing this slide:

As it turns out, we actually awarded 464 degrees this semester; the 453 number comes from the official Board resolution passed earlier in the month. Both of the Georgetown CEW and CAPSEE studies are very interesting. Here are links so you can read them for yourself online.

https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/the-college-payoff/

https://capseecenter.org/labor-market-returns-sub-baccalaureate-college-review/

After reviewing these numbers, I reminded the graduates of the non-monetary value of their accomplishment:

Economic impact aside, your Owens education is worth a great deal more than money. We hope that it not only leads you to a family-sustaining wage, but also a purposeful and rewarding life.  We believe that you will find the real-world skills, curiosity, critical thinking, and civic engagement that your degree represents to be priceless.

Graduation is always a great time of year. Thank you to everyone here at Owens who took the time to plan our excellent ceremony and be present for our wonderful students.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President


Help Portrait

Posted on December 6th, 2017

Owens Community College Brings Help Portrait Back to Northwest Ohio

On December 2, 2017, a group of Owens Community College employees, students, and community volunteers held a Help Portrait event at the Downtown Learning Center. Help Portrait is an amazing international community service movement that is based on a fairly simple idea. Volunteer photographers find people in need, take a professional portrait, and give it away. Created by Nashville photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help Portrait has taken place every December since 2008. The idea is explained very well in this brief video:

Owens volunteers, along with several photographers from the Toledo area, came together on Saturday to create a pop-up photography studio for the community. This was a very inspiring event, led by Krista Keissling, Michael Sander, Dan McInnis and a number of Owens staff and students. That last time there was a Help Portrait event in Northwest Ohio was 2014. Our friends and partners at Hart, Inc. generously provided $1,000 to assist us with the cost of obtaining the necessary photo paper, thumb drives, and additional printers required for the event.

Our Marketing department made a great promotional flier for the event, and we promoted it heavily on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). James Schuller was there taking video of the event, and Marketing will be producing a short video about the activity.

At the Board meeting yesterday, I gave a brief slide show of the photos I took that day. I am an amateur photographer, so these are not professional shots. But I do think the images capture the event; here are a few of my slides. During the event, I only did three things: 1) welcome people, 2) thank volunteers, 3) photograph the process. Here are just a few of the photographs I shared with the Board.

While Help Portrait is a simple idea, executing a quality event is not. Our team was fantastic and attended to every detail with precision, compassion, and enthusiasm. The volunteers from Owens and the community worked tirelessly to make this event a success. We all left the DLC so inspired by what had taken place that day. I am so grateful to the volunteers who came together for this amazing event. James Schuller shot a bunch of video that day and put together a great movie about our event.

We are all looking forward to next year!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President