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Workforce Collaboration and NW Ohio’s Community Colleges

Posted on March 11th, 2021

Ohio’s community colleges remain the critical linking pin to workforce development. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted Ohio employers and employees. Many Ohio businesses retrenched but recognized the need for upskilling the continuing workforce to survive. Employees who lost their jobs found themselves needing new skills for a secure career in Ohio’s future economy. And the realities of the soon-to-be post-COVID-19 economy indicate a shortage of needed skills for Ohio’s future workforce as businesses grow and rebuild a thriving state economy. In northwest Ohio, Northwest State Community College, Owens State Community College, and Terra State Community College together can meet all these workforce development needs – customized training, short-term certificates, “learn while you earn” employer-sponsored programs, apprenticeships, associate degrees, and more.

Governor DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Husted, Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Gardner, the Development Services Agency, and the Ohio legislature have made workforce development a state priority. They provided significant new funding for community colleges and other partners to cover or defray the costs of workforce development. As one example, the recently established TechCred program provides worker training grants to employers to upskill their incumbent workforce and qualify them for new jobs in a more technology-infused economy. As of December 2020, more than 15,000 employee credentials have been awarded. Community colleges are also collaborating with the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to deliver industry-recognized credentials to help displaced workers re-enter the workforce and help current workers advance their careers.

Your three community colleges in northwest Ohio participate in these and other state-wide workforce development initiatives. In addition, each of us brings unique, specialized expertise to bridge Ohio’s workforce gap and help employers and employees get the skills, high-value credentials, and postsecondary degrees they need for success:

  • The newly opened 59,000 sq. ft. Dana Center for Advanced Manufacturing on the Owens Community College’s Perrysburg campus offers critically needed short-term certificates, associate degrees, and customized training in advanced manufacturing and skilled trades to address the current and projected shortage of skilled workers to support the manufacturing base of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The Dana Center features six skilled technology labs, including robotics and programmable logic controller (PLC); computer-aided design (CAD); computer numerical control (CNC) and manual machining; mechanical and pneumatics; electrical; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and alternative energy.; and
  • Terra State’s Kern Center for Workforce and Community Education offers critical training in leadership, healthcare, and skilled trades, as well as industry-driven testing and certifications. Throughout fall semester 2020, the Kern Center served more than 150 apprentices from 32 local companies. Medical students applied the direct patient care they learned in the classroom to provide COVID19 testing on campus in partnership with ProMedica and The Bellevue Hospital, keeping members of the campus community safe while developing workforce skills. Terra State opened labs during COVID-19 so that workers from area companies could obtain essential training without having to interrupt production at their facility. Terra State was awarded a U.S. Department of Labor JobCorps Scholars grant that expands access to training opportunities for underserved populations within in-demand occupations.
  • NSCC was one of 11 community colleges nationally to receive a Department of Labor “Strengthening Community College Training Grant.” The $1.69 million grant continues NSCC’s previous workforce efforts to update the skills of current and displaced northwest Ohio workers for critical, high-demand local jobs. The grant coordinates 30 employer and civic partners and uses in-person and virtual learning that has been shown to help learners reach a higher mastery level at a faster pace than traditional training methods.

The primary mission of a community college is workforce development. Your community colleges in northwest Ohio – Northwest State Community College, Owens Community College, and Terra State Community College – e take seriously our role in building the talent pipeline that prepares employees for good jobs and careers, meets the workforce needs of employers, and drives economic development. We have delivered workforce development to all sizes and sectors of business since we were established and will continue to meet your needs now and into the future. Together, we are dedicated to making sure that community colleges are no longer the best-kept secret but rather the first choice for nimble and fast, best-quality, and low-cost workforce education in northwest Ohio.

Bill Balzer, Ph.D. Interim President, Owens Community College

Bill Balzer, Ph.D.
Interim President, Owens Community College

Ron Schumacher, Ed.D. President, Terra State Community College

Ron Schumacher, Ed.D.
President, Terra State Community College

Michael Thomson, Ph.D. President, Northwest State Community College

Michael Thomson, Ph.D.
President, Northwest State Community College


Your Community’s College: High Quality, Highly Affordable, and Responsive

Posted on December 21st, 2020

When you think of community college, are your first thoughts about an affordable, local education? Well, you would be right!  In fact, tuition and fees at your local public community college are typically one-third or less of the tuition and fees of a four-year institution (public or private).  Our affordability is possible thanks to generous state support as well as our primary investment in undergraduate teaching rather than research and graduate education. . We are also convenient, with one of our community college campuses within a 30-minute drive of home or work. That is why nationwide more than 8 million students – more than 40% of all undergraduates nation-wide – attend community college. Community colleges are recognized by local business, industry, and government leaders for our ability to respond quickly to local economic development needs with up-to-date courses, certificates, and degree programs that prepare and upskill the local workforce. We are, in fact, a major factor in attracting and expanding the region’s economic development and upward mobility of area employees and their families.

But do you also know about the high quality of a community college education?  Whether full-time academics or part-time faculty working in their profession, community college faculty are drawn to the teaching mission. Community college faculty bring their academic credentials and work experiences into their classrooms and laboratories to prepare students to excel in the workplace or transfer to a four-year school seamlessly. Community college faculty focus their professional development on becoming better teachers, staying current in their fields, and learning new teaching skills to support their students. They design their courses to support student success, knowing that many of their students are working while attending college and balancing other responsibilities to achieve their educational goals. Many community college courses, particularly those in general education (e.g., math, writing, psychology, biology, chemistry) are recognized as equivalent in rigor and outcomes to four-year institution’s courses through Ohio’s Transfer Articulation Guide Ohio Transfer Module.

The quality of a community college education extends outside the classroom as well. Our open admissions policies allow every Ohioan the opportunity to achieve their higher education goals. Consequently, the diversity of our students – demographically, level of academic preparation, and life experiences – creates a robust, inclusive, learning experience. The professional and highly-trained support staff at community colleges have the knowledge, skills, and compassion to build pathways to success for every student, whether they are single parents, differentially abled, facing food and housing insecurity, looking for meaningful extracurricular activities, and more. They assist students in creating solutions to what otherwise would be significant barriers to academic achievement and success.

Thanks to the prescience of state leadership more than 50 years ago, and the ongoing support of the Ohio legislature, Governor DeWine, and the Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner, every community in northwest Ohio has access to a college education that is of high quality, highly affordable, convenient, and responsive to the needs of the region. As the leaders of the three community colleges in northwest Ohio, we are proud to work together to meet the needs of northwest Ohio communities and serve you personally. As we approach this time of Thanksgiving, we are grateful to serve the 11 counties of Northwest Ohio. We thank our more than 67,000 graduate who have already chosen a local community college. We invite all who live and work in our area to make your dreams of a better life through high quality, affordable, and local higher education come true in the coming year.

A very grateful …

Bill Balzer, Ph.D. Interim President, Owens Community College

Bill Balzer, Ph.D.
Interim President, Owens Community College

Ron Schumacher, Ed.D. President, Terra State Community College

Ron Schumacher, Ed.D.
President, Terra State Community College

Michael Thomson, Ph.D. President, Northwest State Community College

Michael Thomson, Ph.D.
President, Northwest State Community College


Welcome Back!

Posted on September 2nd, 2020

Welcome – or welcome back – to Owens Community College!

I know many of you may be dealing with feelings of uncertainty, either from the anticipation of starting your higher education journey or from the new remote and hybrid learning environment due to COVID-19 – or both. I want to reassure you that our faculty and staff continue to work tirelessly to provide each of you with the resources and support services you need to ensure your success.

We all have a commitment to each other as we safely return to campus:  masks must be worn at all times while on campus, we maintain a social distance of at least 6 ft., and always practice proper hand hygiene to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For more information about Owens Safe Start initiatives, please visit www.owens.edu/covid19 and review the Protocol for Potential COVID-19 Illness following Ohio Department of Health & CDC Guidelines: OCC Students

While the health of our campus community is top of mind due to the current pandemic, Owens remains dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming educational environment for all of our students. We strive to cultivate an intentionally equitable and inclusive college community that takes into account the impact of our actions on all members. Each of you is an important part of this community and we will ensure you always feel that way by understanding, respecting, and valuing diversity during your educational journey and beyond.

In addition to these blogs, I will use the @OCCPresident Twitter account to highlight various campus or community events, topics around higher education, or other topics that may be of interest. If you have a Twitter account, please follow me. You may also share your thoughts with me by email at president@owens.edu.

Thanks for choosing to be part of our Owens community: strong, determined, and resilient. The faculty, staff, administration, and I are here to ensure you reach your higher education goals – a two-year degree, a certificate, professional development or personal enrichment, or a strong foundation before you transfer to a four-year institution. We wish you a great start to the new academic year and remember, your success starts here!

Bill Balzer, Ph.D.

Interim President