President's Blog

Board Action to Restore 2015 Salary Reductions

Posted on October 11th, 2018

Yesterday, I was pleased to be able to send the following e-mail, and I wanted to post it here on the President’s Blog for posterity:

From: Steve J. Robinson
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 1:08 PM
To: Steve J. Robinson <>
Subject: Board Action to Restore 2015 Salary Reductions

Good afternoon:

At their working retreat this morning, the Owens Community College Board of Trustees took action on my recommendation to reverse the compensation reductions of those directly-affected employees who were subject to the salary reductions of January 2015. The restoration of the 2015 cuts will automatically be applied to employees who have remained in their same positions at the College since the time of the reductions.

Overall, the restoration of the 2015 salary cuts impacts about 65 non-bargaining unit employees, and about 35 bargaining unit employees in the Fraternal Order of Police (Officers & Dispatchers) and the Owens Support Staff Union. In the near future, impacted employees may review the adjustments in Ozone, Employee Services. These adjustments will be reflected in paychecks dated for October 19.

This is an important final step in turning the page on Fiscal Watch. I want to express my sincere appreciation to all of our employees for the contributions and sacrifices they made through the financial crisis. I also want to thank the employees in Finance and Human Resources for their hard work and analysis on this issue, as well as the Board for their approval.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Owens Community College
P.O. Box 10,000
Toledo, Ohio 43699
(567) 661-7210

The restoration of the 2015 cuts was the work of many people, and it would not have been possible without the hard work of everyone here at Owens to emerge from Fiscal Watch a stronger, more resilient organization. Many of us here at Owens have been waiting for the ability to write this message. I am honored to be the person who was able to hit “SEND” on this message on behalf of our great team here at the College.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

Subscribe to President’s Blog

Posted on October 2nd, 2018

Thanks to the efforts of Information Technology and Marketing, I have been communicating with the help of this Blog for over a year. We launched the President’s Blog on September 6, 2017. I have enjoyed updating the Blog over the past year. As readers can tell, this is an example of “DIY” desktop publishing. I am not a graphic designer, but I put all the graphics and links into the blog. It takes me back to the days when I built my own websites for teaching. Back in the early 1990s, I developed one of the first completely online college courses in Michigan. I built all of those course materials by coding them in HTML.

Now You Can Subscribe to the President’s Blog

I especially want to thank Rodney Hough, our Owens Web Administrator, for the help with this Blog. He built a portal for me using WordPress, a very intuitive blog publishing platform. The Blog automatically publishes to the web site. At the end of last year, I received feedback from readers that the old blog entries disappeared. Based on that feedback, Rodney built the “Blog Archive” you see to the left of this screen. A new comment I have received from readers is the desire to “subscribe” to the Blog. The technology for this has existed for some time. Today, Rodney added an “RSS Feed” to the Blog: with just a few simple steps, readers can be notified when the Blog has been updated. You can even subscribe to receive the new blog entries as an e-mail.

What is RSS?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary.” Below is a great description of RSS from a recent article by Jerri Collins on a web site called Lifewire:

Instead of checking back every day to any particular site to see if it’s been updated, RSS feeds give users the ability to simply subscribe to the RSS feed, much like you would subscribe to a newspaper, and then read the updates from the site, delivered via RSS feeds, in what’s called a “feed reader.”

Depending on how you subscribe, you should be able to simply click the orange button that Rodney installed on the Blog. If your e-mail or web browser work differently, the address for the RSS feed for President’s Blog is below:

One thing I like about publishing the Blog is the ability to communicate about important issues without jamming everyone’s e-mail boxes. We all received plenty of e-mail on a daily basis. The topics I explore here, such as strategic planning, important books in higher education, community issues, campus events, do not need to be sent as e-mails. A Blog is what I call an “opt in” type of communication: readers come here only if they want to read the content I post.

I appreciate everyone who has reached out to me to discuss the thoughts I post here on the Blog. After one year of publishing regularly here, I feel the Blog is an important component of a communication strategy to keep the President’s Office connected with our campuses and the wider community. We also use e-mail, campus meetings, video, Twitter, and the Pop Up President’s Office as ways to stay connected.

And special thanks to Rodney for making this happen!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

Strategic Planning Sessions Update

Posted on October 1st, 2018

Community Input Session Update

We have been hauling this colorful sandwich board across Northwest Ohio, having conversations with citizens and community leaders who care about the future of Owens Community Colleges. Through the month of September, we held sessions at the following locations:

  • 9/11 – Maumee Branch, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library
  • 9/12 – Waterville Branch, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library
  • 9/17 – Wood County District Public Library – Bowling Green
  • 9/24 – Way Public Library – Perrysburg
  • 9/26 – Reynolds Corners Branch, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library

These sessions have been extremely productive. The activity is identical to the sessions that were facilitated by Owens faculty members during Opening Week of Fall semester. The same activity will take place every Friday in October here at Owens.

The five remaining sessions will be held in Toledo, Fostoria, Findlay, Genoa and Sylvania. I invite everyone to encourage their friends and colleagues to attend these sessions. More information about the sessions, as well as a link to RSVP, can be found here:

When we conduct these sessions, we show up early to set up the tables, configure the computer projector and sound system, and prepare a sign-in table with name tags. We also provide a pizza dinner for participants. A number of outstanding Owens employees have been part of our “set up crew” for these events, including Pat Jezak, Kris Holland, Roberta Montrie, Amy Giordano, Denise Smith, Jennifer Fehnrich, Meghan Schmidbauer, and Margaret Parker. I want to thank these employees for their help as we move through the community on our “listening tour.”

While we are not calling this initiative a “listening tour,” I think it’s important to point out that the activity is almost completely about listening. One participant jokes that most “listening sessions” are mostly about the presenter talking… meaning that the attendees do most of the listening. This article from the Sentinel-Tribune captures the kind of discussion that has been taking place at these sessions.

At the end of October, we will begin the process of synthesizing and analyzing the input we have received on vision and goals. Based on the first five sessions, it is clear that we have some great feedback from our community as we work to create our new multi-year strategic plan.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

Need for Vigilance on E-Mail Phishing

Posted on September 19th, 2018



Owens Community College is under attack.

While that statement may seem dramatic, it is 100% true. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly targeting legitimate organizations, attempting to infiltrate their computer networks. One of the most common types of attack is e-mail phishing. A number of recent phishing e-mails have attempted to use my identity to trick unsuspecting users at Owens Community College into downloading files, clicking on suspicious links, or even making purchases.

If you have not done so already, I encourage you to logon to your account and change your Owens password. You can reset your password by logging into Ozone and clicking the Change My Password link. I realize that it can be cumbersome to change and update your password, but it is one of the most effective ways that our employees can stay secure in our computing environment.

Please Make Sure “Steve Robinson” Is Really Me

It is a bit embarrassing that a number of these e-mail phishing attack messages pretend to sent by me. These messages have ranged from very unsophisticated to fairly elaborate. Attempting to impersonate the president of an organization is a fairly common tactic for these phishing e-mails.

I will never send you an e-mail asking you to purchase gift cards for me, nor would I instruct anyone to provide me with access to their account or to download a risky file. If something seems odd about an e-mail that appears to be from me, be very skeptical.

No hacker has been successful in sending an e-mail from my account, and the folks in IT are taking extra steps to make sure that our e-mail accounts are secure. Messages from me personally will always come from my address.  Sometimes mass communications and announcements will be sent from the account. These are the only legitimate accounts for messages from me. While it is not impossible for hackers to impersonate our domain, this has not happened to date thanks to the hard work of our IT professionals.

So-called “bogus boss” or “CEO fraud” e-mail attacks are on the rise. Many organizations and corporations have fallen prey to these attacks. Here are some interesting stories from the recent past on this subject; these were prompted by a 2016 FBI warning about the billions of dollars lost to spear phishing attacks that impersonate the CEO of an organization:

I want to thank the faculty and staff who have reached out to me and IT immediately upon receipt of these fraudulent e-mail messages. The safe online practices and common sense of our employees is our first line of defense for these attacks. If you receive a suspicious e-mail, please reach out to IT before opening or forwarding the message. We have highly trained staff in the area of computer security, and our IT team has sophisticated tools to help manage the risk associated with these attacks.

What You Can Do to Stay Safe

Recently, our Information Technology Services department sent a set of best practices to all employees. Here they are again for your future reference:

  • Do not click on links or attachments from senders that you do not recognize. Be especially wary of .zip or other compressed or executable file types
  • Do not provide sensitive personal information (like usernames and passwords) over email
  • Watch for email senders that use suspicious or misleading domain names
  • Inspect URLs carefully to make sure they’re legitimate and not imposter sites
  • Do not try to open any shared document that you’re not expecting to receive

In addition to the tips above, IT has referred us to this excellent web resource at the Department of Homeland Security.

Be safe out there!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

Growth Mindset with Dr. David Yeager

Posted on September 7th, 2018

During Opening Week, our campus community was treated to an excellent professional development session by Dr. David Yeager, Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.  Dr. Yeager’s talk was easily one of the best opening lectures on teaching that I have had the privilege to hear on a community college campus.

I would like to thank Dr. Denise Smith, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs and a number of other dedicated individuals for bringing Dr. Yeager to Owens. In addition to Dr. Smith, Dr. Anne Bullerjahn, Professor of Science; Eric Haynes, Coordinator of STEM Teaching Effectiveness; Dr. Anne Fulkerson, Director of Institutional Research; and Jessica Stoner, Secretary Life & Natural Sciences, who played a key role in making the event happen.

For members of our community who were not able to hear the address, below is a video of the presentation, which lasts approximately one hour and twenty minutes. If you were not able to come, I strongly recommend you grab a coffee and/or a snack and cozy up to a screen for this presentation. It is chock full with very important information that can help you and your students have a better semester… immediately.

The Driving Puzzle

About six minutes into his excellent presentation, Dr. Yeager asks this incredibly important question:

“Why is it that some students or learners might feel safe taking risks of deeply challenging themselves acquiring that knowledge before it’s obviously needed and then go on to thrive in college at any level, and why may others shy away from difficulty and not fulfill their potential?”

He refers to this as his field’s “driving puzzle.” During my many years in the classroom, I thought about this problem every semester. Dr. Yeager’s very engaging discussion of growth mindset and his years of research on college students shed important light on this topic.


As a developmental psychologist, Yeager explains the growth mindset hypothesis for why college students don’t learn with the same facility as babies:

“Our hypothesis is that one thing that erodes that kind of love of learning and challenge that many of us started with is the worry that when we struggle and fail we’re going to be negatively evaluated and labeled in some way and compared to others and judged to be inadequate, and those fears prevent us from taking the intellectual risks that we know are good for us in the long run. By that logic, though, we might be able to address those fears and inspire more students to persist even in the midst of that early uncertainty and by doing so they might acquire the skills and habits and relationships that that help them to succeed over time.”

One of the simplest and most enlightening practices he highlighted during his talk was engaging the help of his current students to help future students. His “A Message from a Former Student” technique is something I sporadically tried in the classroom, but only on the syllabus. Yeager has adapted the technique of harnessing the voices of our current students (who will soon become our former students) to help our future students (who will soon become our current students). Those instructional materials shared by Dr. Yeager during the workshop can be accessed by faculty and staff on this internal link:

In addition to many suggestions about what we CAN do as a college to facilitate and support growth mindset, Dr. Yeager also suggested something we can AVOID. He called it the “s**t sandwich.” Consider the following table from one of Dr. Yeager’s worksheets on providing feedback to students:

Again, as a teacher it is sometimes helpful to hear what to avoid. “Sandwiching” an unhelpful and negative piece of feedback between two mildly positive ones certainly is not helpful to students. This particular suggestion got a big laugh from the audience.

In closing, I hope this is an exciting semester for everyone. One thing that could make it even more exciting is to implement some of the “growth mindset” concepts outlined by Dr. Yeager. This would also be a great time to start to solicit and collect those “messages from former students.”

Have a great semester,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

Teachable Moment

Posted on August 24th, 2018

Testing, Testing… Is This Thing On?

I am excited to launch a new OCCR radio program and podcast called Teachable Moment. Before I explain this new program, I want to take a moment to highlight our awesome Internet radio station, Owens Community College Radio (OCCR). Our CFPA students have a number of fantastic shows on our college radio. Teachable Moment is just one of many exciting things ready for your listening enjoyment online or wherever you tune in to Internet radio. Teachable Moment currently airs on Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. Download the free OCCR app today, and you can take Owens Community College Radio with you!

We Are Here to Learn

The basic idea behind my new program is simple: we are a learning community filled with smart people and interesting ideas. On Teachable Moment, which is also a podcast available for listening at any time, I interview a member of our campus community about an idea or concept from their area of expertise. As I am writing this, I have produced two programs: one with Professor Margaret Parker of the Business department; another with Professor Stephen Ross of the psychology department. The format of the show is simple: I introduce the guest, and then they “teach” me the idea or concept they have brought to the conversation. So far the conversations have been roughly 20 minutes long. Below is the concept “script” I put together for the program.


Radio and audio editing are hobbies of mine. I had a three-hour FM radio show when I was in college, so this kind of communication is fun for me. I produce and edit the program as well. Below you can listen to the first two episodes of the show. I want to thank Professor Parker and Professor Ross for being my first guests. They were great!

A Campus-wide Invitation

As I say at the conclusion of the show, if you have an idea or concept from your field you would like to share with me on the program, I would love to talk with you. Simply send me an e-mail and we will start the process. I have all the recording equipment to produce the show right here in my office. In addition to online streaming, the episodes air on OCCR weekly, so this is a great way for you to connect with the larger campus culture. Promoting our fantastic people is one of my favorite parts of the job.

Be sure to tune in next time!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

2018-2019 Opening Week

Posted on August 20th, 2018

Fall is my favorite season, and the launch of Fall Semester is my favorite time of year. Today, I had the pleasure of addressing our faculty and staff on both the Findlay and Toledo-area campuses to kick off our 2018-2019 academic year.

I did not deliver my remarks from a prepared text, but instead from notes the way I would have in the classroom. During the address, I covered four broad topics:

  • 2019-2021 Strategic Planning Process
  • “Start Here” Scholarship
  • Digital/Social Media Marketing Campaign
  • Updates & Accomplishments

Below are links to the slides I presented on both campuses. The slide decks are nearly identical; the main exception is the heading slides which correspond to a building on each campus. I especially wanted the Findlay address to be very specific to our unique campus in Hancock County.

Opening Week Remarks (PDF Slides)

Rick Clever, the CFPA Technical Director, made an audio recording of the Toledo address directly from the sound board. I created a version of the slide presentation with the audio:

I wanted to provide this for faculty and staff who were not able to attend an opening session. The screen resolution is higher in the PDF documents below, but this video should provide you with the information that was shared during opening week.

Opening Week Remarks 2018 – Findlay
Opening Week Remarks 2018 – Toledo

All Faculty Stakeholder Strategic Planning – Wednesday, August 22

One especially time sensitive item in my address is the stakeholder input component of our strategic planning process. While there will be internal stakeholder session every Friday in October, we have also planned faculty-only sessions that will take place this Wednesday. Administrators and staff will not be attending these sessions. They will be facilitated by faculty members in the following locations:

Morning Sessions / 9:00AM – 11:00 AM
Heritage Hall 148 – Chris Smith
Heritage Hall 149 – Jeff Hardesty
Heritage Hall 150 – Mary Kaczinski
Heritage Hall 151 – Margaret Parker

Afternoon Session / 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Heritage Hall 148 – Cathy Pratt
Heritage Hall 149 – Jeff Hardesty
Heritage Hall 150 – Chris Smith

I especially want to thank the full-time faculty who volunteered to facilitate these sessions on VISION and GOALS during Opening Week. Each of them went through the activity last week prior to the start of the year. If you are not familiar with Heritage Hall, the room locations are in the East side of the renovated portion of that building.

It was wonderful to see so many faculty and staff on both campuses for the kickoff of this exciting year. Thank you for all that you do for our students and our community. Have a GREAT semester!


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


8 Years! Nursing Accreditation Success!

Posted on August 15th, 2018

I’m just going to leave this here.

Wow, does that feel GOOD!

If the above certificate does not speak for itself to you, allow me to explain. We have a phenomenal Nursing program, made up of dedicated faculty as well as administrators and staff. Our NCLEX pass rates and placement rates are among the highest in the country, routinely outperforming the state and national average. Our PN and ADN graduates are vital to this community. For the past several years, our nursing educators have worked hard to re-invent our curriculum, prepare the very best graduates, as well as earn the highest recognition from our accreditation and oversight bodies.

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is the national accreditation agency for our excellent program. The state oversight is provided by the Ohio Board of Nursing (OBN). Eight years of solid accreditation is the maximum accreditation award provided by ACEN. Months of work by dozens of people went into earning this vitally important piece of paper.

Shortly after I received this certificate from ACEN yesterday, a recent ADN graduate stopped by my office to visit. He arrived from his new job, and showed me his brand new ProMedica name badge clipped to his scrubs (as well as his new stethoscope tattoo, a graduation gift from his mom). I was able to show him the ACEN certificate. He immediately understood what a big deal this is for Owens. It was a good day.

Thank you to all the great faculty, staff and administrators in the School of Nursing and Health Professions who made this happen. I am inspired by your dedication to our students and our community. This is an exceptional accomplishment.

Well done!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Rossford Back to School… at Owens!

Posted on July 27th, 2018

Welcome Rossford Bulldogs!

This morning I took a brief walkthrough of the portions of AVCC and Math/Science that will host Rossford High School in a few short weeks.

A recent news segment on 13ABC featured a tour of the space that will be used by Rossford, as well as interviews with the district superintendent Dan Creps and high school principal Tony Brashear. The television segment really shows Owens in a positive light: “The hallways are also bright and offer beautiful views of the new senior lounge.” As Brashear states in his interview:

“It’s an upgrade for [the students] to come here, and then when we leave here and get into a newer building it’s going to be even better.”

In addition to providing an important service to a neighboring school district, our hosting of Rossford High School  is a fantastic way to expose hundreds of students and their families to our wonderful college.

Just as we did with Lake High School back in 2010, our hosting of Rossford is an extension of our mission of student success and community service. It also provides us with a direct connection to numerous students and their families, many of whom are potential Owens students. The lease revenue is also a positive factor for the college, making the partnership and hosting a true “win-win” collaboration between the college and the school district.

Some Updates

  • The first day for Rossford teachers to officially report is August 20
  • Freshman report to school for the first time on August 21
  • The remainder of the students start on August 22

All of the “above-ceiling” inspections for the construction changes are complete; all construction is anticipated to be finished by the week of August 13.

I want to thank all the Owens employees who have worked so hard on the Rossford hosting project. We have received very complimentary feedback about how warm, inviting and helpful our Owens people have been during the process. I am especially grateful to the Owens faculty and staff who moved their classrooms and offices in order to make this partnership work.

If you happen to interact with Rossford students, faculty, staff and families in the coming weeks, please extend a warm greeting and leave them with the sense of welcome that is conveyed in the banner we hung in the atrium. This is a remarkable partnership that should create lasting goodwill for Owens in the Rossford community for many years to come.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Remembering Trustee John C. Moore

Posted on July 25th, 2018

In Memoriam: John C. Moore (1936-2018)

I am very sad to inform our campus community about the passing of one of our college’s great leaders, Mr. John C. Moore, who served on our Board of Trustees from 2000-2010. I was fortunate enough to have a few brief conversations with Mr. Moore about our college and its history during our 50th anniversary celebrations; I also discussed his extensive mentoring with community leaders during his long career in banking and public service. I frequently saw John Moore out and about in the community. As a frequent visitor to the Toledo Museum of Art, I saw Mr. Moore at the TMA and the Toledo Symphony on a number of occasions. Many college employees have fond memories of Trustee Moore, and he will be sorely missed.

Board Chair Dee Talmage issued the following statement on the passing of Mr. Moore, whom she considered a dear friend:

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of John C. Moore, former Chair of the Board of Trustees at Owens Community College. Mr. Moore served as a Trustee from 2000-2010, and later as a Director on the Owens Foundation Board. In addition to serving as Board Chair, Mr. Moore served on the Executive Board of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges and helped guide Owens through a vitally important part of its history. He will be remembered for his strong commitment to higher education and his mentorship of countless community leaders. The entire Owens family wishes to convey deep sympathy and condolences to Mr. Moore’s many friends and family in our community.”

Chair Talmage informed me that Mr. Moore was heavily recruited to be the Chair of the OACC Board, but he declined and encouraged her to become involved. Dee Talmage would later become OACC Board Chair. The mentorship of John Moore improved our entire community, but it had a special impact on Owens Community College.

The obituary for Mr. Moore appeared in the Toledo Blade this morning. Funeral arrangements are below:

Wake from 4-7 p.m. Friday, July 27

Dale-Riggs Funeral Home
572 Nebraska Ave
Toledo, OH 43604

Funeral services at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 28

St. Joan of Arc Church
5856 Heatherdowns Blvd
Toledo, OH 43614

John Moore served as Chair of our Board during a pivotal time for Owens, including a difficult presidential transition and the loss of accreditation for our Nursing program. He was a strong and stabilizing force for our college during this time. Owens Community College will always be grateful for his energy, leadership and service to our institution.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.