President's Blog

The Vinyl Hour

Posted on February 11th, 2019

Here Come the “Terrible Twos”

For the past two years, one of my hobbies has quietly made its way to our Owens Community College Radio airwaves. I have always been passionate about music. During my college years, I hosted a 3-hour FM radio program on WDBM, the radio station at Michigan State University. It had been years since I had done radio, but when our Broadcast Technology program launched an Internet radio station, I was inspired.

Two years ago, the owner and operator of one of my favorite record stores–Culture Clash Records on Secor Road in Toledo–suddenly passed away at a very young age. Pat O’Connor and I had several interesting conversations about music while I was shopping there. I didn’t know Pat well, but his store and friendly presence was an audio welcome mat for me when I moved to Northwest Ohio. I was living in an apartment in downtown Toledo, getting home late every night after starting a new job. My stereo and record collection kept me company during those evenings. When Pat passed away, I was inspired to make an hour-long tribute to him by playing only vinyl records for an hour. I selected a band that I knew he liked–one of my favorites from high school. I uploaded the file to the Internet and asked the students to put it on the air.

That’s how The Vinyl Hour was born. The staff and students at OCCR encouraged me to make more shows, and I have been producing The Vinyl Hour in my basement for two years. This is 100% hobby for me: I make the show on my own equipment in my home. For the past two years, The Vinyl Hour has aired on OCCR every Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm and 9pm. We even took the show down the road to BGSU: I invited Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards and BGSU President Rodney Rogers to play jazz records with me on the air in Bowling Green. It was tons of fun.

Tomorrow, I will broadcast an episode of The Vinyl Hour live on OCCR. This will be the first time I have done the show on campus. We will begin by cutting a birthday cake at 12:30, and I’ll go on the air at 1pm–this time LIVE! If you have vinyl records and would like to play them on the air, bring them and stop by. Or you can listen online by tuning in to OCCR (streaming on your desktop, or you can download the app on your mobile device). Details about tomorrow:

Location: Owens OutComm Student Media center (SHAC 156)

Time: 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

I want to thank the students, faculty and staff in CFPA/OutComm Media for their encouragement and support of The Vinyl Hour. It’s fun when one of your hobbies intersects with work. None of this could have happened without Herbey Atkinson; Herbey was an Owens student when I launched the program, and he did the behind-the-scenes work to turn my files into radio. Not only did Herbey graduate from Owens since then: he is now our station manager at OCCR. Thanks, Herbey! I appreciate everyone who listens to the show.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Strategic Plan “First Reading”

Posted on February 1st, 2019

After more than nine months of extensive work, I am very pleased to share the “First Reading” of our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan as it will be presented to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, February 5. I first wrote about this process here on the President’s Blog in my entry for May 23, 2018. The time has flown by, and it is very exciting to share the end product with our campus community and the Board of Trustees. Because they will be seeing this material for the first time in their Board packets today, Trustees will have most of February to consider the proposed mission and vision statements, as well as the goals and key objectives. A resolution for formal adoption of the 2019-2019 Strategic Plan will be considered by the Board at their working retreat on February 26, 2019.

There is a great deal of information about how the proposed mission, vision, and goals were developed in previous entries of the President’s Blog, including a 32-minute webinar-style video embedded in my entry for January 28, 2019. The following was developed through the work of dozens of employees and is based upon input from hundreds of internal and external stakeholders. Thank you to everyone who helped in the development of the revised mission, vision, and strategic goals. It is important to note that the following statements and goals are not yet official; the Board may yet provide input or make revisions to what is presented here.

Mission & Vision Statements

Below is the final text for the revised mission and vision statements as they will be considered by the Board of Trustees.


The Owens Community College mission is to foster student and community success by providing high quality and affordable education that leads to rewarding careers, personal growth, and regional economic strength.


As the premier two-year college in Northwest Ohio, Owens Community College will be the first choice for students seeking career credentials and university transfer, and will be recognized as an indispensable partner for businesses, educational institutions, and community organizations.

A quality mission statement defines the purpose of an organization and differentiates it from similar entities; a quality vision statement is an aspirational sentence that describes a desired future state for the organization.

2019-2021 Strategic Goals

Below is a graphic representation of the six strategic improvement goals for the next three-years. Along the top of the graphic, we present our primary goal: the success of our students. Goal 1.0 also recognizes the primary importance of enrollment management and completion as we work to accomplish our mission. Along the base of the graphic is Goal 6.0, which demonstrates our commitment to fiscal strength and discipline. Goals 2.0 and 5.0 are represented in “Owens Red” here to signify that they are new initiatives suggested by our internal and external communities. Goal 2.0 acknowledges our need to analyze and improve the student experience here at Owens; Goal 5.0 represents our commitment to address our college culture, workplace satisfaction and employee morale.

While the Goals have numbers for tracking purposes, it is important to note that the goals are not necessarily listed in “rank order” or order of importance. The possible exception to this is “student success.” It’s no accident that this goal has the number “one” associated with it. Apart from that, the numbers are simply a way to differentiate them in future communications and measurement discussions. Here they are listed as text for accessibility purposes (accessible web browsers cannot “read” graphic images such as the one above).

1.0 Increase Enrollment, Completion & Student Success
2.0 Improve and Enhance the Student Experience
3.0 Develop Workforce & Labor Market Outcomes
4.0 Cultivate Community Image & Advancement
5.0 Improve College Culture & Quality of Life
6.0 Build Financial Strength & Capacity

Below is the two-page executive summary of the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan that the Board of Trustees will consider on Tuesday. In addition to the mission, vision, goals, and key objectives listed here, the Board will consider a set of tactics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) at the working retreat on February, 26, 2019. As we have during the entire process, we will be posting the relevant documents (including PowerPoint presentations) to the Owens web site. I will also be writing about them here on the President’s Blog.

2019-2021 Strategic Plan [First Reading]

I appreciate the work of everyone who worked so hard on this process, as well as those of you who have followed these blog entries during the process. The next three years promise to be a very productive time here at Owens Community College.

With sincere thanks,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Extreme Cold Class/Campus Notification

Posted on January 29th, 2019

I recorded this brief video message between College Hall and Administration Hall this afternoon. It was 14 degrees and the temperature was going down. By tomorrow, it will be well below zero with wind chill ratings approaching -40 or lower.

Here is the notice we sent to our campus community today:

Faculty & Staff:

Due to the forecast for extreme cold, Owens Community College will be closed Wednesday, January 30. This includes the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campus, as well as the Learning Center Downtown.

Additionally, all classes will be canceled, Thursday, January 31; however, at present, all campus offices will be open on Thursday and staff should plan to report to work.

Local weather calls for bitterly cold conditions and a wind chill that could drop between -30 and -45. The combination of wind and low temperature in winter can be very dangerous and result in frostbite or hypothermia. Please use extreme caution and limit time outdoors and cover all exposed skin.

For the latest local weather forecast, visit or

Please stay safe and warm,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


2019-2021 Strategic Planning Update

Posted on January 28th, 2019

We’re getting close!

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a group of faculty and staff to provide an update on our 2019-2021 Strategic Planning process. About 42 employees joined me in Heritage Hall for some pizza and an update on our development of a revised mission statement, revised vision statement, and comprehensive set of strategic goals for the next three years.

Because I knew that not everyone would be able to attend last Friday, I recorded the audio of my update and synchronized it with the presentation slides. The video below is a “webinar-style” presentation of the update. The video is about 32 minutes.

You’ll note that this video is NOT up to the standards of our great IT and Marketing departments. It’s just a simple attempt to provide everyone with the same information. It certainly isn’t a polished video. Here are some key points in the presentation if you would like to examine just a portion of it:

3:00 / Process update
11:20 / Mission statement
17:40 / Vision statement
22:40 / Goals

During the presentation, I presented the input we received: 26 community input sessions; 254 attendees; 847 total participants (including survey responses); 593 mission statement suggestions; 541 vision statement suggestions; 536 suggestions for strategic improvement goals. During Friday’s session, I showed the attendees the 1,077 input cards and IR survey results that were used to create the broad framework of our new plan.

I also wish to publicly thank all the faculty facilitators and staff volunteers who helped us conduct this elaborate community input campaign. In addition to those volunteers, I also received some great guidance and help from faculty members. Lori Owens, English faculty on the Findlay Campus, advocated for greater input from students, and this resulted in 311 responses from a survey developed by Institutional Research. This would not have happened without Professor Owens’ advocacy, and there is excellent information in those student responses. In addition, Susan Burris (also English on the Findlay Campus), worked with two of her Honors Students who performed an analysis of the preliminary mission statement survey results. The project completed by Professor Burris’ students is posted with the other strategic planning artifacts on our web site.

Mission Statement

Below is a brief “flowchart” that I presented on the top suggestions for inclusion in our revised mission statement. A good mission statement does two key things for an organization: a) provides a definition of the purpose of the organization; b) differentiates the organization from similar organizations. Rather than use a sentence/syntax structure, this flowchart represents those ideas as answers to a series of questions.

A “first reading” of a revised mission statement will be considered by the Board next week; I plan to post that reading here on the blog in the next few days.

Vision Statement

We also received excellent feedback from the in-person sessions and the survey regarding a revised vision statement. A good vision statement will be in the future tense and describe a desired future state for our college. Below are some of the main ideas to be considered for inclusion in the new vision statement.

Strategic Goals

Below is a simple diagram showing the overarching categories for the strategic goals we will be taking to the Board next week. In addition to existing categories, new areas of strategic importance emerged from our process last year: a need to improve and enhance the student experience, and a need to improve college culture, morale, and quality of life. Special thanks to two faculty members who provided excellent ideas last Friday: Cathy Pratt suggested we make each category begin with an active verb; Jamal Salahat suggested we re-arrange the visual presentation of the boxes below. If you watch the video, you will notice a different orientation of these boxes. The diagram below incorporates both Professor Pratt and Professor Salahat’s suggestions. Thank you!

Later in the week, I will share the “Key Objectives” that are being developed to support each of these six strategic goals. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. Next Tuesday, we will be taking the “First Reading” of the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan to the Board of Trustees at the regular meeting. Final consideration of the plan will take place at the Board’s working retreat on February, 26, 2019.

This is a very exciting time for our college. Thank you to everyone who has participated in the process of developing our three-year strategic plan. Once the plan is formally adopted by the Board of Trustees, the real work begins. As I explained in the opening of the session on Friday, the third and crucial step of this process is moving to action and measuring our results. I am sincerely looking forward to that part of our journey.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Winter Finally Arrives in 2019!

Posted on January 18th, 2019

We managed to make it through most of our first week of classes without a weather event. As many will recall, we were pounded with snow on the first day of Spring 2018; this led us to a weather-related delay on the first day of class. With a strong Winter storm approaching today through the weekend, I thought I would re-publish some of the thoughts I shared last year about weather related closures here at the College.

Here is a photo I took with my phone on the first day of class last Spring:

By the time I arrived early that morning, the red plow trucks and giant Caterpillar snowpushers had already cleared most of the snow from the Toledo-area campus. Our fantastic Facilities crew displayed 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 that morning, and they are likely to be doing the same this evening and over the weekend.

Information about Weather Policy at Owens

Below is my blog entry from last year about how we handle weather-related delays and campus closures. Our Owens Community College Severe Weather Policy can be found here:

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.

If you see any of our Facilities and Public Safety crew during extreme Winter weather, please extend a special thank you for their great work in making our campuses and locations safe for learning!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Randy Gardner Named ODHE Chancellor

Posted on January 10th, 2019

What a fantastic day for higher education in Ohio!

Today we learned that Governor-elect Mike DeWine has appointed our own Sen. Randy Gardner to the position of Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). The Chancellor position is far and away the most important cabinet-level position in the executive branch of government when it comes to higher education policy here in Ohio. Senator Gardner was our commencement speaker in Spring 2015, and he has been a true friend of the College in the State House. The photo above with Board Chair Dee Talmage was taken before the graduation ceremony four years ago.

During the Kasich administration, current ODHE Chancellor John Carey and his team led important reforms that have helped thousands of students across Ohio. Chancellor Carey was especially helpful to Owens during the time of Fiscal Watch. Owens is grateful to Chancellor Carey for his leadership over the past several years. Under Chancellor Carey’s leadership, our dual enrollment flourished with College Credit Plus, and the new SSI funding formula drove key student success reforms. Chancellor Carey has a proud legacy of accomplishments at the helm of ODHE. Here at Owens, we will always be grateful for his leadership.

Owens has always had a strong relationship with Senator Gardner during his time in the legislature. We are especially excited to continue that strong partnership as Randy Gardner assumes leadership at the Ohio Department of Higher Education.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


2018 Year End Message

Posted on December 21st, 2018

Well, it’s time to close the books on 2018. We have all accomplished a great deal over the past year. After everyone went home yesterday, I found a quiet place to record a very brief thank you video for our faculty, staff, students and community partners. I am so appreciative of the important work you all do to help our students.

Below is a rough transcript of my video message. Please forgive the low production values here: I simply put my cell phone on a tripod and started talking. Oh, and special thanks to the Business Affairs Office: that’s their Christmas tree in the background.

See you next year!


2018 Year End Video

Hi. This is Steve Robinson, President of Owens Community College, with a brief message for our faculty, staff and students, as well as our external community partners. I want to take a moment to thank all of you for your dedication and hard work over the past year. 2018 was an extremely productive year here at Owens.

We dramatically expanded our transfer pathways for students by adding Lourdes University to our suite of Express programs to join Bowling Green State University and University of Toledo.

We launched our groundbreaking Start Here Scholarship, which provides our College Credit Plus students with a tuition-free pathway to one of our associate’s degrees and junior standing at one of our four year college partners.

Many of our accredited programs achieved the most prestigious recognition possible with their accreditation bodies, including our Nursing Program which received accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Education in Nursing through Spring of 2026. That is eight years of full accreditation.

Our student athletes distinguished themselves on and off the court; we gearing up for our recently renewed sports of softball and baseball; and our women’s volleyball team brought home a national championship.

We have made significant progress toward our comprehensive strategic plan; in early 2019, we will be adopting a newly-revised mission statement, vision statement and strategic goals for the next three years.

2018 was a very good year.

So as you enjoy the holiday break with family and friends, please accept my sincere thanks for all you do to help our students succeed. When our students succeed, so do their families and the communities in which they live.

Have a happy new year, and I look forward to getting back to work with you in January when we return.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

2018 Owens Holiday Card

Posted on December 18th, 2018

Our creative folks in Marketing have outdone themselves this year. I have been receiving accolades from on campus and the community about this year’s amazing Holiday Video Card. Hats off to the Marketing Department, especially James Schuller, Erin Holmberg and Abby Bender for their vision and creativity.

Most of the video was shot in the lobby of Administration Hall, as James needed to control the camera from the balcony above. This is a fantastic example of visual storytelling. There is a lot to see in the short minute of this film; you’ll want to watch it a few times to catch the cute and creative things that happen. The message leaves us with an excellent “to do” list for the holiday break:

  • Create memories
  • Practice goodwill
  • Be jolly and bright
  • Spread good cheer
  • Serve others
  • Send good tidings
  • Comfort and joy
  • Be merry
  • Collaborate
  • Grow

Outstanding job, Marketing team! On behalf of all of us here at Owens, have a wonderful holiday break.

National Recognition

This year’s video received national recognition from PR Daily and made an impressive list of “5 Video Lessons from Organizations’ Holiday Greetings.” Offering our Owens video as an exemplar, PR Daily’s Beki Winchel wrote:

In Owens Community College’s greeting, a notebook, an award and other items are emblazoned with the school’s name—but there is no “in your face” marketing message about its programs. PR and marketing pros can take a page from these efforts and incorporate more subtle branding into their content. Doing so can help your messages resonate with your audience and make them more sharable.

Kudos, team! A great way to end the year by earning even more national recognition for our efforts.

See you next year!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Fall 2018 Commencement

Posted on December 17th, 2018

One of the many honors I have during the year as President of Owens Community College is the opportunity to address the graduates at our Fall and Spring commencement ceremonies. Because we always have a keynote speaker, I try to keep my speech short and focused. I change my brief remarks for each event, so I thought I would begin the practice of archiving them here on my blog. Below are my remarks to the Fall 2018 graduating class:

President’s Remarks / 2018-12-14

Graduates, I am pleased to be the first of many people to congratulate you on the accomplishment of earning your associate’s degree. Today is a very special day for you and your families.

Commencement is one of my favorite events of the year. During this past week, it has been my privilege to spend time with a number of you at the many award ceremonies, program graduation events and pinning ceremonies that our faculty and staff organize to celebrate your success.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a community college is our focus on teaching. While many of our faculty engage in research and scholarship, the primary emphasis of our accomplished faculty is the classroom. Over the past several semesters, our faculty have worked hard to facilitate your learning and guide you on your way to this important moment.

Graduates, I ask that you stand and turn to face our dedicated faculty, who are seated behind you. Please give them a big round of applause.

Here at Owens Community College, we are in the process of revising our mission statement.

Community colleges are mission-driven institutions. People don’t come to work at community colleges to achieve fame and fortune. The dedicated individuals here at Owens Community College who have helped you on your journey chose to work here because they believe in the mission of community colleges, a mission of both access and excellence.

As we revise our mission here at Owens, we know that two words will never leave that important statement. Those words are “students” and “success.” Each and every one of us here at Owens is committed to your success. Not only did we work hard to help you reach this important moment, but we are also dedicated to your success in the future. We are serious about our tagline: “your success starts here.” We are proud that your success started here, and we are very excited to see all that you will do and accomplish in the future.

As you think about what is next for you and your family, I have a personal request for you. You have already accomplished something significant. When you move forward into the next phase of your life, however, i would ask that you remember your time here at Owens Community College. Of course, we would be honored if you shared your stories about our wonderful faculty and programs in the future. But on behalf of all of us who have dedicated our lives to this important community college mission, I ask that you tell your community college story. As you earn future degrees and promotions, be proud that your success started at a community college. Keep it on your resume. Tell your colleagues and employers about what you accomplished here. If you hear outdated or inaccurate stereotypes about community colleges, share your experiences of our wonderful teachers, our dedicated staff, and the meaningful growth you experienced while you were a community college student. Despite many years of successes, there still exists an unfair stigma associated with community colleges. I ask that you help us to change that — one conversation at a time, as you move forward on your journey.

We are all very proud of what you have accomplished. It would make us very proud to be a permanent part of your story as you move forward in the world.

Thank you for letting us be a part of the success you have created for yourself.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.

Help Portrait 2018

Posted on December 4th, 2018

For the second year in a row, our amazing Owens Community College team participated in the international Help Portrait event. 48 student and staff volunteers built an amazing pop-up portrait studio at our Downtown Learning Center on Saturday, December 1 from 9am to 3pm. This year the stars of our event were Owens photography students; along with their professor, Ruth Foote, the students photographed 33 separate groups of individuals, providing each with a printed copy of their portrait, as well as a thumb drive with digital copies and a copyright release for future prints.

Help Portrait has been a passion of mine since I came to Owens. Despite my heartfelt excitement about the event, however, my only contribution is excitement and promotion of the event. The wonderful people in the photo above (photo credit Ruth Foote) do all of the work. During the event, I give myself two jobs: a) say “thank you” and “welcome” until everyone is sick of hearing it; b) take process photos of the event as it happens. Below is a link to my slideshow on this year’s event:

Owens HP 2018

Like many initiatives at Owens, I expect our Help Portrait event will continue to grow and evolve over time. I especially wish to thank Denise Smith, Krista Kiessling, Michael Sander, Ruth Foote, and the Owens photography students for their amazing work this year. In addition to these volunteers, a number of faculty, staff and administrators stopped by to help and make Help Portrait 2018 a special event. Rob Thomas and the OutComm media students also documented the event and will be producing a video about the day and its purpose.

Special thanks to all for this amazing work on behalf of our community.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.