Posted on May 18th, 2022
One of the hallmarks of my first year as Owens Community College president was a series of listening sessions with employees and community partners designed to help me learn more about Owens and to shape our plans for the future.
We received positive feedback in these sessions that the College has much to celebrate, starting with offering quality, affordable education and career training options aligned with regional economic needs. And while this list could go on, it’s clear we can do so much more to serve our community and our students. We cannot – we must not – remain stagnant.
We have listened, and we will pursue these focused changes that will impact the broader community and move Owens forward:
- Streamlining our processes;
- Reaching underserved populations; and
- Beginning steps to establish a Lucas County presence.
One thing that came up during the listening sessions was the need to make our services more straightforward and accessible for students. While we cannot compromise our attention to specific standards or compliance requirements, we are continuing to evaluate processes.
We want to be an indispensable partner in serving all the students who need us, and this is an area where we will continue to strive for streamlined experiences.
Visibility to More Potential Students
Completing postsecondary education often involves overcoming many barriers, especially for those who need socioeconomic mobility the most. Over the years, it has become more, not less, complicated for our students. Affording college is no longer just a matter of qualifying for a Pell Grant or other funding, as it might have been in earlier generations. Many Owens students are already coming from situations where enrollment and tuition are only the first hurdles to clear in their journeys. We envision a future where issues like housing security, childcare and other basic needs don’t stop someone from getting the education they want and need and that the regional economy demands.
To achieve that, we have to be sure our courses and programs fit seamlessly into complicated lives. It also means working with community organizations that can ensure students have options for shelter, healthcare and support beyond what our institution is able to provide. These types of relationships are essential as we advance our mission to provide not only a quality education but also one that is ever more accessible, affordable and relevant in today’s changing job market.
We have a responsibility to seek out potential students, especially those for whom a degree or new credential would offer real financial and career opportunity. The mission of community colleges is rooted in the principle of economic inclusion. We are a ladder to family-sustaining wages for so many who would otherwise live in or near poverty.
Forty-one percent of our students are from Lucas County, part of which constitutes one of the poorest congressional districts in the country. Across our service district, which encompasses Lucas, Wood and Hancock counties as well as parts of Ottawa and Sandusky counties, higher educational attainment is relatively low in areas where it’s needed most.
We have a history of satellite locations in Lucas County with various levels of success. More recently, we’ve heard from a lot of stakeholders that we should consider a new Lucas County presence. Let me assure you that we are giving careful attention to this feedback. Moving forward with this plan allows us to further live our mission by reaching potential students in a location that eliminates barriers to their enrollment and increasing the numbers of trained and educated individuals needed to fuel the growing economy in our region and state.
A data-informed approach is required to maximize opportunities for all involved. We plan to hire a consultant later this year to conduct a feasibility study and help guide the process. Before we can acquire space, hire professors or fill classrooms, we need to understand how we can best serve the specific needs of Lucas County and of Toledo as a city. We want to fill a critical gap by choosing the right location or locations; we want to ensure a strategic approach and will do so enthusiastically and with intention.
A Strategic Vision
As we launch the strategic planning process this fall, you’ll see these themes and others that emerged from this year’s listening sessions take shape. Please continue to engage with my office and our leadership. We’ll be conducting outreach as part of the planning process, including community visits and more listening sessions.
It took many community partners to help identify these themes, including our incredibly supportive Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors. They could not be stronger advocates for our mission. I’m proud to say our biggest strength is our people. As I approach my one-year anniversary as president, I look forward to all we’ll continue to achieve together.
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on April 27th, 2022
This and every April, we’re honored to recognize not only Owens but all the nation’s community colleges. As institutions of opportunity, we have the power to help transform the economic trajectory of millions of students across the country. We contribute to vibrant regional economies and thriving communities.
Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner has a bird’s-eye view of what our state’s community colleges are accomplishing for our students and regions as a whole. A former schoolteacher, Chancellor Gardner was appointed by Governor Mike DeWine in January 2019 after a long career as a legislator whose districts always included Owens. Beyond that, he also has some personal ties to the Express community — both his wife, Sandy, and his son, Brooks, are Owens graduates.
That makes Chancellor Gardner the perfect first guest for my new podcast. Our in-depth conversation started with his Owens connections, not only personally but also as a leader who oversees Ohio’s 23 community colleges, as well as 112 other campuses and institutions across the Buckeye State.
The Chancellor shared his son’s experience as an example of the value of community college. Brooks Gardner finished high school knowing he wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance, so he first completed an associate degree at Owens before transferring to Bowling Green State University and graduating into a career in Toledo.
“The credits matched up perfectly,” Chancellor Gardner recalled, “As a state rep and state senator, I always viewed Owens as an important economic development and education leader in the region.” It’s no wonder, as his own family is proof of that!
From there, our discussion turned to the economic power of community colleges — most notably, our role in the recent decision by Intel to locate its new semiconductor production facility in central Ohio. “It’s really an exciting time in Ohio,” he said. “Any CEO who’s thinking about expanding in the greater Midwest has to at least make the phone call to Ohio.”
Chancellor Gardner pointed to how Ohio educational institutions’ shared commitment to partnerships uplift the state and its diverse regions. “We work together to utilize each other’s strengths,” he explained, noting that Owens has been a leader on that front, with our numerous transfer articulation agreements and the new Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics currently being explored. “We have community colleges and adult career centers and even private training centers that are all a part of making sure that we meet that workforce need,” so major companies like Intel can find exactly the workers they need locally.
We also talked about a number of new programs the state has launched to help students, especially those returning learners, come back to campus in ways that make sense for their particular finances, families and career goals. “Our businesses will not be as strong if we don’t have that kind of continual upskilling of our workforce, and community colleges are right in the forefront of that,” Chancellor Gardner said.
All in all, our conversation has something of interest for everyone — and I hope you’ll take a listen.
Share your thoughts with me at email@example.com and stay tuned for our next episode.
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on March 23rd, 2022
It’s the month of March and most of the sports world wants to talk about basketball. When I was in high school, I loved being a student-athlete who ran cross-country and track. It allowed me to go outdoors and connect with nature in a peaceful and rejuvenating way.
My running led in part to why I chose Ohio Northern University for my own undergraduate education. I was able to run cross-country and track while still concentrating on my academics. Being a student-athlete was a transformational experience. I met new people and traveled the region, which enabled me to see the world from different perspectives. Those views taught me so much and helped shape the person I am today. I got to run, which I loved, and I learned flexibility from my coaches, who encouraged me to run longer distances as a way to help my team win. Even an individual sport like running challenges you to make choices for the good of the team.
The skills that I learned as a student-athlete still serve me every day here at Owens, and I’m so proud to see our own student-athletes carrying that legacy forward in their lives. Being a student-athlete means learning how to excel both in the classroom and on the court or field. These young people develop discipline, dedication and commitment. They emerge with stronger time management, leadership qualities, universal skills, and other strengths valued by professors and employers alike. They intimately understand the link between effort and excellence.
Through the decades, our Owens Express teams have enjoyed a rich history of winning championships, including six national championships and four since the 2018-19 season. The women’s volleyball team won its third straight national championship in November and the women’s basketball team won its first national title two weeks ago. We also see these student-athletes excel where it matters most — in the classroom. They enjoy a special connection to our institution because of their commitment. They make an impact in northwest Ohio as well, cultivating a beautiful “we over me” mentality.
Similar to what you see on other college campuses, just like my days at Ohio Northern, student-athletes provide their fellow students, faculty and staff with a sense of school spirit and pride. They invigorate the community and add benefit to the collective Owens education. With our baseball and softball teams in season, I invite you to attend a game and watch our student-athletes in action! To learn more and find team schedules, visit www.owensexpress.com.
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on February 21st, 2022
At Owens Community College, it is our responsibility to ensure our diverse student body can complete their education in an environment where everyone can be successful. The recent Zoombombing that occurred during a reception for the Big Read demonstrates why we must continue our work to create a more inclusive community. The goal of the event is to bring awareness of different perspectives and cultures. Four individuals accessed the virtual portion and interrupted it with profanity and racial slurs. We cannot stay silent, particularly when such blatant incidents occur. This is not who we are. The Owens community has long prized equity, and we’ve worked hard to turn that passion into action.
Meaningful steps toward assuring inclusion include our Board of Trustees-approved equity statement and an audit commissioned by my predecessor, Interim President Dr. William K. Balzer, which engaged Bowling Green State University’s equity consulting team. This work led to a series of recommendations for what Owens could do to better incorporate justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) considerations into the student experience, facilities access, human resources, fundraising and more.
In response to the consulting team’s feedback, we have created a JEDI task force to develop a strategic plan for equity and inclusion. This plan will help ensure we can fully serve everyone in our community, including potential students who might not find the way to an Owens education on their own. We have a great foundation of past efforts to build upon.
As part of our mission, Owens exists to foster student and community success by providing a high quality and affordable education. That is important, but that is not all. The entirety of our mission statement must not be overlooked. We want our students’ postsecondary experiences to lead to rewarding careers, personal growth, and regional economic strength. Our success must be more than open enrollment and flexible scheduling.
Outcomes matter, on campus and beyond. We will fail our community and its economy if all we can do is offer classes to students, some of whom may ultimately never complete their postsecondary goals. We must build an environment where every member of our service district can feel like they belong and thrive.
Wood County has less than 3 percent unemployment right now. That means people can find jobs, but without the right educational credentials it will be more difficult for them to secure positions that pay family-sustaining wages or create the socioeconomic mobility that community colleges were founded to provide.
Our forthcoming JEDI strategic plan will help change that, starting with tying our success to student outcomes and touching every area of the institution along the way.
To learn more and join us in this journey, visit our JEDI page on the Owens website.
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on January 26th, 2022
When I joined Owens as president last June, one of my first priorities was to learn what our students, faculty, staff and partners need most from this institution. Since then, every day has been a joy and a privilege working to address our collective needs, exceed expectations, and together, make this College a hub of education, training and opportunity for northwest Ohio.
In our conversations, the values of the Owens community came through loud and clear. Our strengths and opportunities remain – and will continue to be – rooted in our people. From student and faculty connections to the transfer agreements and employer partnerships we maintain with local institutions, relationships are at the heart of what makes Owens a driver of student success and economic growth.
And for our faculty and staff, we continue to seek ways to expand communication and engagement and demonstrate appreciation for all you do to support our students. We recognize your dedication and see your commitment.
Above all, these listening sessions affirmed, reinforced and amplified the points that participants raised – both college-wide concerns and shared praise. People across the board remain incredibly passionate about our mission and our community, and it’s clear that the Owens experience is an overwhelmingly positive one.
At some of the listening sessions, we discussed the concept of a College Forum, a monthly opportunity to assure communication, engagement and inclusion among the College’s senior leadership, faculty and staff. Agendas will include substantive college matters – like strategic enrollment management, planning and capital requests – as well as informational items to help assure transparency and involvement throughout our institution. After additional vetting last semester, we are launching the College Forum in February. I encourage all members of the College community to look for more information in future editions of ONews.
Equity and Inclusion
Following the development and adoption of our Equity Statement by the Board of Trustees on February 2, 2021, Owens engaged the Bowling Green State University Equity Consulting Team to conduct an Equity Audit of our college. The report stated key recommendations to engender a more inclusive college environment for both students and employees. From human resources strategies to updated fundraising, sustainability and communications models to a more accessible campus, the actions we take based on these findings will help make Owens a more inclusive place for all. To assure continued progress, we are creating the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force, an ad hoc team charged with developing an Inclusion Strategic Plan for Owens. The Task Force’s work will begin this semester and continue to align with and help guide the College’s overall strategic planning efforts to begin in Fall Semester 2022.
Community Outreach and Partnerships
Our 2021 Fall Semester was perhaps defined more than anything by our community outreach and the partnerships we strengthened along the way. The launch of the new Dana Incorporated Advanced Manufacturing Training Center generated many of these, as did our MOU with the University of Findlay and Bowling Green State University to explore the creation of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics.
In addition, we are now officially part of the Amazon Career Choice program, meaning that Owens is now a sanctioned educational provider for full-time associates and staff taking our courses for credit. Additionally, Owens has placed significant effort to engage business and industry independently and through partners such as JobsOhio. We’re excited to create more career pathways for our students going forward.
We have also been actively engaging our K-12 partners by meeting with several area superintendents. As part of deepening our partnership with Toledo Public Schools, we’ve continued to expand our relationship with the Toledo Technology Academy to offer certificates and even an associate degree in design and technical studies. We have also been meeting with the Toledo Pre-Medical and Health Science Academy and are working to align our avionics program. Many of these offerings are made possible through College Credit Plus, assuring that high school students are able to earn college credit for college coursework while in high school, putting them on a quicker – and more affordable – path to higher education, career and the workforce.
All of our efforts outlined above speak directly to Owens’ commitment to support and help drive economic development throughout our region and the state, providing opportunities and streamlined pathways for individuals to launch their careers and for employers to hire and retain talent.
Fundraising, Gifts, Grants and Capital Planning
Earlier this month, we welcomed Dr. Melissa Starace as the Interim Executive Director of the Owens Community College Foundation. Dr. Starace’s expertise and background will be instrumental as we assess our needs in advancement and chart our path forward. We celebrated a strong year in annual giving, with alumni contributing a record $290,875. Employee giving also increased to 34 percent in 2021, and our employees gave $55,775. Our signature fundraising event, the Owens Community College Foundation Golf Classic raised $71,509 and the Dana Center capital campaign reached $1.8 million. To end the calendar year, we were honored to accept an $80,000 gift from Frankel Dentistry to name our Dental Hygiene Lab.
In addition to our philanthropic efforts, Owens is the proud recipient of several major grants:
- A $232,050 TRIO EOC grant will provide services for low-income students.
- A $102,839 RAPIDS grant will be used for equipment to train in CNC machining, process controls and welding technology.
- A $102,800 campus safety grant will be used to install a remote locking system on the Center for Performing Arts.
- A $95,000 Gates Foundation grant will be used for our Fast Track program.
- A $186,966 Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) grant will allow students to complete short-term certificates in business, health, skilled trades, manufacturing and pre-apprenticeships.
- $278,100 in Choose Ohio First scholarships will go to first-year students enrolled in STEM programs.
- $100,000 from ODHE will support advanced manufacturing on the Findlay campus.
Looking ahead, our capital requests have taken shape into a six-year proposal to support renovations, notably for the School of Nursing and Health Professions, Alumni Hall, and the Findlay-area campus, as well as in the health and transportation technologies departments and the Center for Emergency Preparedness (CEP).
Strategic Enrollment Management Plan
We are proud to have completed Owens’ first Strategic Enrollment Management Plan this summer and presented to the Board of Trustees at the meeting on October 5, 2021. Strategies and tactics from this plan began being implemented in Spring Semester 2021 and will continue through 2023. The plan will be shared with the broader College community at the College Forum in February and at the Center for Teaching Innovation in March. The Plan focuses on the 3 Rs – recruitment, retention and revenue – and aims to increase our targeted student population while improving retention and completion.
There’s no question our Findlay-area campus has deserved greater attention, and my 2021 listening sessions reinforced that knowledge. That’s why we launched the Owens-Findlay Task Force, charged with submitting a proposal for the Findlay-area Campus that includes a discussion of recommended academic programs, enrollment projections, a cost-benefit analysis and a discussion of relevant data and other supporting information. The task force submitted their report prior to the holiday break and their recommendations are being analyzed. We look forward to sharing next steps with the College and community.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2022 and beyond, I remain excited about where Owens is heading. From continued engagement with partners and the community to seeing the completion of several meaningful College-wide task forces, we as an institution are thriving. I am honored to have been appointed to area boards including the Regional Growth Partnership, Raise the Bar Hancock County and the Toledo Museum of Art. I look forward to my continued participation with these organizations! As we begin to look to finalize the work we began in this academic year, we also must look ahead to the next where we will begin our new strategic planning process and continue to strengthen and grow our partnerships. We will also launch the Owens-Toledo Task Force to recommend a physical presence in the City of Toledo, meeting the needs of students and strengthening our presence in Lucas County.
As always, we value your input! Like I said, our biggest strength as a college is the people who make Owens a community.
Happy New Year!
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on December 16th, 2021
This Friday, it will be my privilege to host the 41st Owens Community College Fall Commencement. This will be my first Commencement as president of the College, and I am so excited to celebrate our newly minted graduates.
Congratulations to all! Though we’re deeply proud of every class, the last two years have required perseverance through uniquely challenging circumstances. Making it to the finish line today in the face of a global pandemic and all that has wrought is a particularly tremendous achievement, and we salute each and every graduate.
Commencement is one of my favorite parts of a semester along with the first day of classes. Together, these dates connect access to completion, symbolizing the most important things we do as a community college. We ensure that students can capitalize on the opportunity for quality, affordable, flexible higher education, and seeing so many succeed is truly a gift that comes with working in higher education.
An Owens degree is a milestone achievement. It exists as an opportunity for anyone motivated to earn it – regardless of age, educational background, financial or housing status, or family situation – and our Fall 2021 alumni prove how beautifully Owens provides a path for so many people from all walks of life.
Success comes in many forms and for many reasons at Owens. I want to congratulate our NJCAA Division III Volleyball National Champions – including National Coach of the Year Sonny Lewis, National Tournament MVP Maddie White, and First Team All-Americans McKenna Babcock and White – on their stellar achievements.
Looking ahead to the new year, we want to continue these inseparable traditions of excellence and access. We are working with an engaging program called ReUp to help more students who have paused their education to come back to campus on their own terms. Whether individuals need study tips, financial assistance or a clearer path toward their degree, everyone in the Owens family wants to help them succeed. To learn more about the ReUp program and how its coaching programs work, click here.
Along with our peers in the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, we are also keeping a close eye on legislation pending before Ohio’s legislature, House Bill 368. If passed, this bill would pave the way for school districts to weight high school Advanced Placement (AP) courses differently than College Credit Plus (CCP) courses. CCP courses are high quality, accredited and rigorous. Completion of a CCP course means that a high school student has earned college credit. CCP courses provide high school students with a faster, more affordable route to higher education.
Allowing these courses to be designated as quantitatively “lesser than” AP courses would stigmatize more than 77,000 students annually, undermine their $155.7 million in tuition savings, and reduce opportunities for low-income students across the state – including here at Owens.
We are proud to accept CCP courses as the foundation for an associate degree from Owens and an economical path to quality higher education. This program as is allows for more commencements to happen. Owens will continue to work with our partners to not only protect, but to expand CCP so that more members of our community can get a head start on higher education.
Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, I’m eager to see what our new alumni will do next. Their Owens credential is a marker of their determination and expertise, and it opens so many doors. As our more than 40,000 alumni in northwest Ohio can attest, Owens is a big part of what makes our region vibrant – and we are always here for our graduates as they take that education out into the world.
Congratulations again, and see you the new year!
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on November 18th, 2021
As we approach Thanksgiving and the many reasons to celebrate this holiday season, I want to express my own gratitude for the meaningful gestures of welcome and collaboration I have experienced since returning to Ohio.
First and foremost, I want to thank the dedicated faculty and staff at Owens who so selflessly serve our community each day, working to fulfill our mission to provide a high quality and affordable education that leads to rewarding careers, personal growth and regional economic strength. Whether you are in the classroom, running our facilities or providing direct student support, we could not be who we are without you. I’m sure many Owens employees have gratitude for their co-workers. To recognize a fellow employee or even an entire department, click here to submit a “Giving Thanks” message through our Human Resources department. My thanks to Human Resources for organizing this effort.
One of the best parts of Owens is our students. It can be challenging to build a sense of belonging at a community college when so many of our students have busy lives and are juggling multiple responsibilities. But Owens is different. My interactions with students are the bright spots of my day, and I was particularly impressed with our students’ Halloween costume contest and the open forum with the administration. These student-led events show our students’ leadership skills, creativity and commitment to the College.
November is also a month when we honor our veterans and military families who have made great sacrifices for our country. I was excited to attend the Walleye’s Military Appreciation Night last week and am eager to learn more about the new Student Veterans Organization that is forming here at the College. On behalf of all of us at Owens, we thank our veterans for their service. If you’re a veteran and missed this month’s Student Veterans newsletter, please take a look here.
Outside the immediate Owens community and across northwest Ohio, I am energized to see our peer institutions as well as K-12, business and civic leaders embrace opportunities to partner for the good of the region. Owens has most recently engaged with Bowling Green State University and the University of Findlay in a historic partnership to explore the development of a new Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics. Operating from our Findlay-area Campus, the Center will be designed to support northwest Ohio’s economic growth by producing skilled workers to fill in-demand jobs in the advanced manufacturing and logistics sectors. In addition to offering a solution to workforce shortages, we envision that the Center will serve as a model for institutions across the state and beyond to emulate.
Indeed, as president of Owens Community College there is much to be thankful for as I look back on these last five months and ahead to 2022. However you experience Owens — whether you are current or former faculty, staff, one of our students, or one of our partners — please know that you bring immense value to the College and are deeply appreciated.
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on October 20th, 2021
October is the month traditionally set aside for students to begin completing their financial aid forms for the upcoming year and I find myself thinking about the growing economic concerns many community college students grapple with today.
The Community College Research Center at Columbia University reports that according to a November 2020 U.S. Census Bureau survey, compared to households with four-year college students, households with community college students more frequently reported that “affordability/financial aid changed” as a reason for altering postsecondary plans. What is so concerning about this situation is that there are several resources available to assist students who need financial help, especially here at Owens, yet these resources often go untapped.
For example, Owens offers a wide range of scholarships to help students complete a degree program without having to take on significant debt. These scholarships may be based on financial need, academic merit, or even a specific area of interest.
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is essential to obtaining money that often does not have to be repaid (think Pell Grants). Yet a significant proportion of our students who may otherwise qualify do not apply as early as possible to receive as much aid as they can. That’s if they apply at all. According to our Fall Enrollment Trend Dashboard, nearly half (47%) of our students have no FAFSA on file.
I believe many students simply don’t know how to address the challenge of finding financial support for school or they assume it is not available for them. Fortunately, Owens offers free workshops led by Student Financial Services Advisors ready to help with completing the FAFSA. In fact, there are workshops still available this month for those who would like to register.
The Pell Grant and scholarships are just a couple of resources available to make college more affordable. The College Credit Plus program is another excellent way to reduce the cost of attending Owens. By participating in Ohio’s dual enrollment program, students in grades 7-12 can earn college and high school credits at the same time. For students already in the workforce, many employers offer tuition remission or will pay for training in some of the technical programs we offer.
To Owens students I say this: The process of filling out forms can be daunting. But there is funding available. You may find out that you qualify for enough to cover the cost of tuition and fees. Sometimes it may not be enough. However, even if you don’t believe you’re eligible for anything at all, then the most you’ve sacrificed is about an hour of your time. Once you fill out the first FAFSA, the hard work is done, and you only need to update it for subsequent years. Why wouldn’t you when you stand so much to gain? And you know that caring people here at Owens can assist you if you have questions.
Dispel the myth that the only way through school is to take on substantial debt, especially here at Owens. Remember: Those who engage in post-secondary education will earn more and are less likely to be unemployed. The difference is thousands per year and exponentially more over your lifetime. This opportunity is too large to leave unaddressed.
Owens is here to help. As always, I believe in your success. I am rooting for you.
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on September 23rd, 2021
As the College marks its annual transition into fall, I am reflecting on my first 100 days as president. It is clear that Owens has a deep commitment to the region it serves, and the pride of the many stakeholders whom I’ve met is on full display, as brilliant as Ohio’s annual autumn colors.
Owens is fortunate to have so many supporters who actively promote its mission to provide students with an education that is both high quality and affordable. I think about the comments I’ve heard from people in passing as well as the deep conversations I’ve had about Owens’ standing in the community and feel the tremendous meaning this institution has to the future of northwest Ohio. It is refreshing to know a region and its people are united in the belief that providing access to rewarding careers and personal growth benefits us all.
As we continue to adapt, we must evaluate priorities to better serve our students, business and industry, and our community partners. Vital input during my first 100 days and beyond is spotlighting a path to a shared vision for the future upon which we will rely to take advantage of opportunities.
During these initial days, you have reinforced within me the responsibility we have to continue to listen to one another. It is powerful to hear from faculty and staff who have helped so many achieve their full potential. We will need to work together to facilitate our students becoming the best version of themselves on their journey through higher education.
Thank you for making me feel so welcome over these past few months. You inspire me to do my best to preserve Owens’ legacy for future generations. I’m grateful for your participation in our fall listening sessions and value your feedback concerning your experiences at Owens so far.
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.
Posted on August 10th, 2021
Summer is winding down and we are busily transitioning to an exciting Fall Semester here at Owens. I want to welcome each and every one of you to what I’m sure will be an extraordinary year at both our campuses. It will mark my first full academic term at Owens, and I am truly excited about what the year holds.
I especially want to recognize the newest members of our community. Whether you are a new student or employee, we are so glad you are here! I know you will quickly feel as welcome as I have during your first few weeks at the College.
As we look with anticipation to the new semester, I’ve been hearing from many of you about the things you are most looking forward to, especially the ability to reconnect at upcoming events. It is clear you have great pride in what we offer at Owens and are eager to share these traditions and programs with others.
It was refreshing, for example, to be able to host an event for our first Artist in Residence, Beth Genson, whose beautiful work, “The Heavens and Earth,” is showing in the Terhune Art Gallery. I know how proud our Department of Fine and Performing Arts is to have such an accomplished artist interact with students this year.
In other areas of our campus, new academic programs are renewing passion and enthusiasm for what an education at Owens really means for our students. Did you know that Owens now offers a new Craft Beverage Certificate? This unique program delivers necessary training for those interested in a career in the brewing and wine industry, with hands-on learning into the step-by-step process. Of course, you must be over 21 to enroll.
In addition, we are focused on improving the student experience through interdisciplinary collaboration. In the School of Nursing and Health Professions, our allied programs produce graduates who are trained to maneuver nimbly across disciplines, from surgical technology to radiology to medical assisting. Through training in quality, patient-centered care as a team, our students are acquiring needed skills for high-demand and high-paying jobs in the region.
Owens offers more than 70 majors and certificate programs and no matter which program you choose to pursue, you will find dedicated faculty and staff who bring to the classroom their industry knowledge, passion for education and commitment to excellence. We are here to support you on your way to a successful career from the moment you graduate. All of us are rooting for you! As always, I’m eager to receive your ongoing feedback and hope you will participate in our fall listening sessions. I cannot wait for this new semester to begin!
Dione D. Somerville, Ed.D.