Owens Community College Findlay Campus students hold a news conference to express their extreme opposition to a takeover of their campus by the University of Findlay.
Hundreds of students, parents, business leaders and residents of Hancock, Putnam, Seneca, Wood and Wyandot counties are showing their support for Owens Community College and demanding the Ohio Board of Regents keep the Owens campus in Findlay.
At a recent news conference on the steps of the Findlay post office, a group of students expressed their "extreme opposition" to a petition by the Hancock and Putnam county commissioners asking the Ohio Board of Regents to create a new community college run by the University of Findlay and force Owens to leave Findlay.
Pam Moline, a Registered Nursing student from Hancock, Putnam, Seneca, Wood and Wyandot counties, said she is very upset about losing the freedom to choose a college that best suits her educational and career needs.
"We will not be forced to attend an institution because it is the only choice in town," she said. "We believe all residents should have the opportunity to benefit from a high-quality, low-cost college education at Owens Community College."
"It has been said that Owens is not meeting the needs of the local community because the main offices are 40 miles away in Toledo," Moline said. "I can tell you as an Owens Community College Findlay Campus student, I have found nothing to support this claim."
She added that many area companies - such as Marathon, Ball Metal, Harris and Whirlpool - operate in Hancock County and their main offices are located "hundreds and even thousands of miles away."
The students mailed nearly 1,000 postcards to Robert Hesse, editor of The Courier, who wrote an editorial April 18 supporting the idea of a new community college for Findlay.
"We believe Mr. Hesse should remove himself from the politics of this issue and consider the facts," Moline said.
More than 500 letters also are being mailed in support of the Owens Findlay Campus to Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Elaine Hairston, Ohio Board of Regents Chairwoman Elizabeth Lanier, Gov. George Voinovich, State Reps. Lynn Wachtman and Charles Brading and State Sen. Ben Gaeth.
Heidi Smith, an Office Administration major from Fostoria, said she believes it is best for Owens to remain in Findlay because of the thousands of people who are benefitting in Hancock, Wood and Seneca counties.
"I've found that I'm getting a great education at Owens and I don't believe politics should decide this. It should be what's best for the students," said Smith, who also attended the news conference.
Andrea Nienberg, a pre-radiography student from Ottawa, said "I want to keep Owens here in Findlay. It is not very expensive and I can work part-time. When you go to Owens Community College, you know that people really hear you and care about you."
More than 1,500 students attend the Owens Findlay Campus, which offers more than 30 majors and programs for associate degrees and certificates. Owens is committed to providing students with personal attention, small classes and access to state-of-the-art computers and high-tech equipment. Owens Community College offers the lowest tuition of any college or university in Northwest Ohio.
Amy Inbody, an office administration major from Jenera, said "I think Owens should stay in Findlay. People work hard there, the classes are great and we get a good education. I don't think the students should be uprooted and sent somewhere else."
Andrea Nienberg of Ottawa (left) displays a petition crowded with hundreds of student signatures demanding that Owens Community College remain in Findlay, while Anne Tobin of Findlay (center) and Heidi Smith of Fostoria (right) mail letters to the Ohio Board of Regents.