Governor announces new plan for Ohio’s public universities - Higher Education


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Governor announces new plan for Ohio’s public universities

by Associated Press

COLUMBUS Ohio
Ohio’s public
universities and community colleges will be united under one banner to focus on
their common goals, while maintaining their own identities, Gov. Ted Strickland
and his higher education chief said Wednesday.

Chancellor Eric Fingerhut will meet over the next few months
with the presidents of Ohio’s 13
public universities and 24 community colleges to develop a 10-year plan for the
future of higher education in Ohio
that sets specific goals.

“We expect these will be major decisions,” Fingerhut
said at a news conference with Strickland.

Strickland adopted a name to stress the importance of all
higher education institutions working together: The University System of Ohio.

“We must understand that it’s collaboration not
competition that will lead us where we want to go,” Strickland said.
“No single institution in this state can provide what we need to compete
in the 21st century.”

The new concept is part of a plan that began with the
Legislature giving Strickland the power to appoint the chancellor, who
previously was appointed by the Board of Regents. The Legislature and
Strickland also froze tuition and public colleges for the next two years and
found an extra $150 million for higher education programs.

The state also must do more to market its higher education
assets, Strickland and Fingerhut said. Public colleges are losing prospective Ohio
students to private colleges and schools in other states in part because those
schools do a better job of telling their stories, they said.

Instead of Ohio
colleges comparing themselves to each other, they should be sizing up similar
institutions outside the state, Fingerhut said.

“They (Ohio
students) don’t know what we have to offer in our system,” Fingerhut said.

The 10-year-plan will provide major shifts that reflect
developing technology and make better use of existing resources, Fingerhut
said. The plan will be implemented with an eye on affordability and quality, he
said. He did not want to discuss what he wants specifically, saying that would
color the discussions with the presidents before they started.

The universities, which traditionally fight each other over
the same pot of state money, welcome a new era of cooperation, said Ohio
University President Roderick McDavis, who attended the news conference. The
presidents are looking forward to sitting down with Fingerhut to discuss what
goes into the plan, he said.

“We feel collectively that all of us will have the
opportunity to have input into what the goals will be and into what the shape
of this system will be,” McDavis said. “I think the commitment the
state has made into investing in higher education over the next two years has
created for us a sense of reaching out to see how we can work together.”

Strickland and Fingerhut outlined the new concept for Ohio’s
public college presidents before the news conference, which followed Strickland
signing a directive establishing The University System of Ohio.

“The increased funding in the new state budget must not
be viewed as a reward for past performance, but as an investment in a
transformed system of higher education,” Fingerhut told the presidents.

Strickland and Fingerhut were wise to emphasize that all
campuses will retain their traditional roles even as they unite in
collaboration, said Curt Steiner, Ohio
State University’s
vice president for external affairs. Strickland and Fingerhut said Ohio
State would remain the state’s
flagship public university for research. However, that does not diminish the
role of any other college, Fingerhut said.

“This chancellor is going to recognize the differences
between and among the institutions and I don’t think he wants us to copy one
another,” Steiner said. “It would be a real mistake for us to remove
the individual character of the institutions or downplay the individual
strengths of the institutions.”

Strickland also announced that a new Web site had been
created to help market the idea. It features profiles of each public college
and answers questions about tuition and other aspects of college life.

On the Net:

http://www.universitysystem.ohio.gov

– Associated Press



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