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NJCAA & Owens Team Up to #EndCCStigma

Posted on April 1st, 2019

On this first day of Community College Month, I am very pleased to re-print this OpEd piece I co-wrote with Dr. Chris Parker, President/CEO of the NJCAA. Our student athletes are an important part of our community college story, and Chris and I are delighted to add their voice to this important conversation. In fact, I interviewed several student athletes from across the country for the #EndCCStigma podcast project, which debuts later this week. Here is our essay:

Join Our Team:
Community College Leaders and the NJCAA Team Up to End Community College Stigma

Dr. Steve Robinson
President / Owens Community College

Dr. Christopher Parker
President  & CEO / National Junior College Athletic Association

We want you to join our team.

As the presidents of a comprehensive community college and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), we are recruiting a new team to end the stigma against community colleges and the athletes who compete there. At hundreds of community colleges across the United States, student-athletes are studying at table time, working out and practicing hard to achieve their dreams. We teamed up because the stigma against our institutions is real and it is not based in any objective assessment of the quality or value of our colleges. Student-athletes who attend community colleges are the star players in our arena. Their success makes us confident of victory as we fight the stigma against community colleges, provided people will listen as we tell their stories.
We want you to know that community college athletes are retained and graduated at significantly higher rates than the overall student body population. Competition, the engagement from coaches and administrators and the personal drive to continue forward are large factors in their individual success stories. In addition, community college athletes are constantly surrounded by teammates that can help maintain a constant focus and a sense of unity that adds academic success pressure to be the best he or she can be.

During the past two years, the NJCAA has seen more than 6,000 student-athletes graduate with a 3.6 GPA or higher, setting new NJCAA records in back to back years. The NJCAA provides opportunities to roughly 60,000 student-athletes a year but only half of that number would be considered sophomores, so 20 percent of all eligible graduates are completing with a GPA of 3.6 or higher. At Owens Community College, our 2018 Division III National Championship women’s volleyball team brought national recognition to our institution, not only for athletic achievement, but for academic distinction as well. This exceptional group of student-athletes recently won its fifth consecutive NJCAA Academic Team award and recorded a 3.58 team GPA, the highest in Owens Community College program history. These athletes are winners both in competition and in the classroom.

Since the late 1970s, the motto of Owens Community College has been “Your Success Starts Here.” Likewise, the NJCAA motto is “Opportunities Start Here.” We are proud to be a starting place. The term “Juco,” for example, has a very large stigma to it and the average person should understand some key factors about our association and the type of students who attend and participate in intercollegiate athletics. Student-athletes can save a significant amount of money by attending an NJCAA institution for two years before moving on to a four year college. Similarly, some student-athletes need to physically grow before competing at the next level and the NJCAA provides those opportunities daily. Additionally, some student-athletes need to academically grow before moving on, this simply means they need a strong academic setting to help them adjust to academics at the college level. And finally, yes there are scholarships at the NJCAA level.

In terms of transfer, student-athletes come in with a mindset of what the next step may be and for many it is transfer to a four-year college and continue to compete at the highest levels possible. This is truly a mindset of the individual students and coaching staff to help them succeed; however, if they decide to enroll in a trade program and compete for two years and go straight into the workforce, then our mission is also completed.

The NJCAA and its member institutions use sports and athletics as a way to center energy around education. Nearly 85 percent of our member colleges are considered community colleges and these colleges produce some outstanding student-athletes.  Such names include Bryce Harper, Sheryl Swoops, Roger Staubach, Albert Pujols, Larry Johnson, Bubba Watson and many more. But on the other hand, we open the doors for individuals who would never attend college but for the opportunity to continue to compete at the college level.  When these individuals connect with a sport and then enroll and graduate, we have completed our ultimate mission, but we have also planted the greatest seeds of success. Those seeds blossom whether the student-athletes move on to four-year colleges or go into the workforce. Most importantly, they blossom into fulfilling and rewarding lives. When first-generation college students succeed, the mindset and opportunity to attend college are passed down as a generational expectation. At that point, the stigma is erased and everyone wins because of the work of a two-year college.

How can you suit up and join our team? First, you can promote community college success stories on social media using the hashtag #EndCCStigma. If you or your family members attended or played sports at a two-year college, tell your story! Perhaps most importantly, work to change the minds of those who might not have experience with our wonderful institutions and student-athletes.

We want you on our winning team.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President


#EndCCStigma Podcast Teaser

Posted on March 19th, 2019

During Community College Month in 2019, we will be producing four unique episodes of the #EndCCStigma Podcast Project. A collection of voices from our social media to end the stigma against community colleges, these podcast dialogues are designed to amplify the voices of those of us who are pushing back against inaccurate stereotypes of two year college. These are the voices of students, graduates, faculty, administrators, community leaders and college presidents.

A teaser for the podcast project is below. Episodes “drop” on each Wednesday of Community College Month: April 3, 10, 17, and 24. Podcasts will be published here on my President’s Blog and Twitter.

Show Notes

Below are links mentioned in the Teaser Promo:

Transcript

As we produce the podcast, I will try to achieve the highest standard of accessibility. To that end, here is a complete transcript of the teaser promo:

#EndCCStigma Podcast Project
Promotional Teaser
2019-03-17

[Music plays]

Tenisha Baca
I am really proud of the fact that I started at a community college. I feel like it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Matt Reed
Community colleges teach. So we hire people who are good teachers and we focus all the professional development around teaching. It’s all about teaching. You are going to have amazing classroom experiences and they’re going to be affordable and they’re going to be local.

Josiah Litant
It’s to change the conversation that it’s not a “this or that.” That the four-year degree, the two-year degree, technical trades, those are options of should all be on the table. We have to get away from this idea that you know one is it’s going to go better than the other.

Tenisha Baca
You get a quality education at a community college. Don’t let anyone tell you anything less than that. So wherever you’re going in life, I feel that community colleges can help you to get there. They provided me quality preparation to help me to reach to where I am at right now.

[Music Fades]

Steve Robinson

Hey everybody and welcome to the hashtag #EndCCStigma podcast project. I’m Steve Robinson, President of Owens Community College in Ohio, and I’m delighted to be bringing you voices from our social media campaign to end the stigma against community colleges. We are planning four podcast episodes for the month of April, and if you’re listening to this message before April 10th or so, there’s a chance that your voice could be included in the podcast that will be published during Community College month.

There’s a lot of great activity happening on Twitter and social media to push back against inaccurate perceptions of community colleges, and we would love for you to join the conversation. The podcast will be published each week and Community College month, and this is not one of them. This is just a teaser, and I wanted to say a couple of things about the podcast as we go forward. First of all I want to thank three folks who’ve already recorded interviews with me: Tenisha Baca, Matt Reed, and Josiah Litant. You heard their voices in the intro, and I also want to give credit to the music. The music that will use as bed music, transition music, and outro music was composed by Scott homes and is licensed through Creative Commons. Scott makes great tracks for this kind of production work. You can find his information at scottholmesmusic.com. The track that were using as background music for this podcast project is called “Make Your Dream Reality.” It is licensed through Creative Commons, and I would encourage you to go find Scott’s music, and if your organization is interested in having soundtracks, give him some attention and business.

So I look forward to hearing from folks. If you would like to be on the podcast, you can reach out to me on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @OCCPresident, or you can visit a landing page that we’ve put together with the URL endccstigma.org

Thanks for tuning in. We’re very excited about the podcast project. The first one will be published on the Wednesday of the first week of April. Until then, keep using the hashtag #EndCCStigma, and I will see you on Twitter.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President


#SixStrong

Posted on March 18th, 2019

#SixStrong!

What a season!

Who could have predicted that our amazing Express Women’s Basketball team would find a way to make it to the NJCAA National Championship game with only six players? Two Twitter hashtags tell the story: #FindAWay and #SixStrong. Despite their small numbers, our 2018-2019 Express kept finding a way to win. At the Championship game in Bethlehem, PA, they fell to Hostos Community College from the South Bronx in NYC. Hostos were the defending champs, but our Express stayed in the game, falling short by only a few possessions 63-73.

When I watch our student athletes play, I always search for things they can teach me. This team taught me about resilience. The Oxford Living Dictionary defines resilience as: “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

Our Owens Express web site has a wonderful recap of the WBB team’s magical season here. I’m not much of a sportswriter, but here’s a unique lens I can focus upon these exceptional athletes. Here’s a letter I received yesterday from the Athletic Director of the host institution, Northampton Community College:

Even the defending champs Hostos praised our team and coaches on Twitter. There is so much for this team to be proud of this season.

On behalf of the entire campus community, I want to tell all the student athletes and coaches how proud they have made Owens Community College. Coach Perry and Coach McBrayer did an amazing job. Thank you for your hard work. Because we have six athletes on this amazing team, I’d like to list all of them here:

  • Whitney Thames (3)
  • Taylor Works (4)
  • Moreina Moore (20)
  • Liliana Velazquez (23)
  • Shyah Wheeler (24)
  • Tori Kopp (25)

Well done. We appreciate you making Owens proud on the national stage.

Sincerely,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President


Now What?

Posted on March 4th, 2019

Last week, the Board of Trustees approved our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, including newly-revised mission and vision statements. Our plan is based on months of work that includes input from hundreds of internal and external voices. Six strategic improvement goals now guide our important work; these goals are supported by twenty key objectives that are specific and measurable. The new mission and vision statements contain our organizational consensus on our purpose, what defines and distinguishes us from other similar organizations, and what we hope our College will become in the future.

What do we do now?

Despite the countless hours of work by dozens of people here at Owens, the work on our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan is just beginning. Often strategic plans are finished then find their way to a shelf where they sit until it’s time to write a glossy annual report. In order for our new plan to be useful, we will have to work to buck this trend. A cautionary tale about “stopping at the beginning” with strategic plans comes from strategy consultant Nilofer Merchant, who named this problem the “air sandwich.” She explains:

“An Air Sandwich is, in effect, a strategy that has a clear vision and direction on the top layer, day-to-day action on the bottom, and virtually nothing in the middle–no meaty key decisions that connect the two layers, no rich chewy center filling to align the new direction with the new actions…”

An important part of our work over the next three years will be to avoid the “air sandwich” effect by living out our mission, vision and strategic goals. From my perspective, we worked very hard to find and define the key elements of our identity, aspirations, and strategic direction; we can’t stop now. In fact, I made a few 2019 individual goals for myself in 2019, and one of them is “make everything about the strategic plan.” If we built the right plan, these six goals and twenty key objectives are the most important things we can be doing in the coming years.

As we move forward with our new plan, I will be using this blog as a way to amplify elements of our planning work. If you have ideas about how we can best execute and “live out” our mission, vision and goals, please reach out to me. I would love to have that conversation.

Sincerely,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President


#EndCCStigma

Posted on February 19th, 2019

Consider This Conversation STARTED!

I’m delighted by the response we have received to the #EndCCStigma campaign on Twitter. So many graduates, two-year college professionals, as well as prominent business leaders have chimed in to say they agree: it’s time to end outdated and negative misconceptions about community colleges.

Of the many responses I’ve received via e-mail and on Twitter, one that particularly excited me was an entry in Matt Reed’s wonderful blog “Confessions of a Community College Dean,” an important regular column in Inside Higher Ed. I have followed Reed’s “Confessions” blog for quite a while, so reading about our campaign there was an early indicator that we have touched a nerve. While lauding the effort and adding his support, Reed raises an important and accurate complication. He points out that the preconceived notions about community colleges are much larger and more complicated than the stigma itself. These biases or prejudices are part of a larger context of competition among K-12 and higher education institutions, as well as complex structures of race and class within our society. I could not agree more, so it’s a thrill to extend this conversation here on my blog.

Head vs. Heart

The experience that put me over the edge to start the #EndCCStigma campaign was an interaction I have often. The attention surrounding #EndCCStigma has shown me that I am not alone. As a community college leader, I am in constant conversation with community leaders, business owners, and elected officials about community college issues. Among these groups, the public perception of community colleges is at an all-time high. I have been a community college professional for most of my adult life. I can’t think of a time when our movement had more “friends.” I regularly encounter evidence that we have changed the intellectual conversation with opinion leaders and employers on the subject of community colleges; however, I am not certain that general perception is this positive. Parents and families want what is best for their kids, and there is an out-moded perception that community colleges aren’t “best.” The President of our state association of community colleges explained this very succinctly while being interviewed for a podcast. For recent high school graduates, “success” is defined as going away and being enrolled in a university. The state and national data tell a different story, and that is the story we are trying to tell with #EndCCStigma.

What’s In A Name?

One of the first responses I received to my use of #EndCCStigma was a marketing/branding suggestion to find a different name for our institutions. Without “throwing shade” on two-year colleges that have gone down this road, my personal view is that this does not address the problem. That’s where my slogan “We’re not going to change our name; we’re going to change your MIND” comes from. Prior to becoming a college administrator, I spent 15 years as a community college English professor. I was a full-time faculty member (and president of a large faculty union) when the fad of dropping the word “community” from the name of two-year colleges began. I am not here to criticize the strategies of other colleges, but I will say this: “community” is the most important part of our college’s identity, and that word isn’t going anywhere. Most community colleges can use some form of the catch phrase that “community” is their middle name. In his blog, Reed refers to the fact that community colleges often have pejorative nicknames. The community college near my childhood home was also “OCC,” and it was often snobbishly called “Only Chance College” by local high school kids. My first community college teaching experience happened at an “LCC,” which some kids called “Last Chance College.” Our community college once had a pejorative nickname that I refuse to repeat (and, frankly, I have only heard from long-time employees… I never hear it in the community). In my experience, the only effective way to deal with these prejudices is to call them out: as Reed notes, that’s the entire point of #EndCCStigma. If we simply drop the word “community” from our names, the negative associations and stereotypes will remain.

The Equity Agenda

Reed’s larger point is about social forces that are much more pervasive than stigma. He is exactly right that a disruption of our society’s assumptions about the “social order” of K-12 and higher ed will overturn a rock with lots of creepy crawly things underneath. As an eternal optimist, I am convinced that even this stark reality is a major strength of community colleges. I am biased of course, but from my perspective, no sector of higher education is doing more to examine and advance equity outcomes. This is a great week to be talking about this as more than 2,000 two-year college professionals gather in Long Beach, CA for the 15th Annual ATD DREAM Conference. Achieving the Dream has advanced the cause of student success and equity in a sustained an unparalleled fashion. By directly and unapologetically highlighting equity and completion gaps, ATD has helped hundreds of colleges and thousands of students address the larger point that Reed makes in his blog post. Add to ATD the growing list of reform networks and organizations working this important problem–The Aspen Institute, Jobs for the Future, CCRC, Completion by Design, AACC, and others–and you have a critical mass of community college practitioners who own this larger responsibility and enthusiastically attack it on a daily basis.

I’ll end by thanking Matt Reed for extending the conversation on #EndCCStigma to this larger and important context. This is a very exciting time to be doing this work. But as he points out, there is a lot of work to do!

Sincerely,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

P.S. The WTOL reporter interviewing me about #EndCCStigma in the photo above is a community college grad! Jonathan Monk attended nearby Northwest State Community College, one of our awesome partner schools here in Northwest Ohio. Note that Jonathan proudly puts his community college experience in his bio on the website of WTOL! Special thanks to Jonathan for coming to Owens to discuss our #EndCCStigma campaign as it was getting off the ground.

 


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.

Sincerely,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

 


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.

MISSION

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.

VISION

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.
President

 


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 www.13abc.com/weather or www.wtol.com/weather.

Please stay safe and warm,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

 


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.

Sincerely,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
President

 


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:

https://www.owens.edu/news/weather.html

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.
President