President's Blog

A World of Best Wishes

Posted on December 21st, 2017

Happy Holidays!

At this time of year, we are reminded that it takes people from different walks of life to make Owens Community College the great institution that it is. It’s support from each of you that allows us to carry out our mission of success year after year. So from all of us here at Owens, Happy Holidays and World of Best Wishes.

Like other colleges and universities in the region, we produced a brief video Holiday Card to share with our internal and external stakeholders. Our 2017 Holiday Card here at Owens was exceptional. I want to thank everyone in Marketing for a job well done. The graphic design, videography, writing and staging was accomplished “in house” by our great Marketing team. All I had to do was memorize the three sentences above and show up in the right color sweater!

Owens Community College  – Holiday Card 2017

This video features our own students and employees passing on seasonal best wishes in a variety of languages and reflects a variety of cultural holiday traditions. I have received very positive feedback about our card from people across the state.

A Personal Note of Thanks

As 2017 draws to a close, so does my first 6 months as Interim President. I want to thank all the students, faculty and staff who have made my job a sincere joy during these past several months. Thank you for making Fall 2017 the most rewarding semester of my 25-year career in community colleges. Over the past few years, we have all come together to work through difficult times. With our financial crisis and recovery in the rear-view mirror, we can now focus on a resilient and sustainable path forward. We remain a vital asset for Northwest Ohio, and I am confident that our commitment to student success and economic development will propel us toward a bright future.

On behalf of all of us in the President’s Office and the Board of Trustees, thank you for your hard work, optimism and support. The passion that our people have for students inspires me, and I am very much looking forward to a remarkable 2018.

See you next year!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President



37th Fall Commencement

Posted on December 14th, 2017

I have always loved graduation, but our Owens Community College commencement ceremonies are very special to me. We do an excellent job with commencement. Each semester, I am amazed by the excellent work of our team that plans and executes our ceremony. This semester’s ceremony was special for me, as this is my 25th year taking part in community college graduation ceremonies, and my very first time presiding over commencement in the role of President.

Class Representative: Kozait Elkhatib

Our student speaker, Class Representative Kozait Elkhatib, did a fantastic job with her speech. During her remarks, Ms. Elkhatib described living through several wars in her home country before coming to the United States. She delivered a small portion of her speech in Arabic for her mother and then translated it into English for the audience. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in business and will transfer to Tiffin University. One of the highlights of commencement for me this year was listening to Kozait practice her speech in the SHAC as a supportive faculty member, Cathy Pratt, listened with pride.

Keynote Speaker: Jack Hershey

Our keynote speaker for Fall 2017 Commencement was Jack Hershey, President of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC). I have been very impressed with Jack and his team over the years.  In most regions of the country, community colleges have a difficult time telling their story and presenting their issues to lawmakers. During his time as President of OACC, Jack and his team have succeeded in teaching elected officials what we do for students and why we are important. Increasingly, he has done what very few states have been able to do: get the legislature to stop lumping us in with the 4-year universities and pay attention to the very real difference that community colleges make in students’ lives. Between his lobbying efforts at the State House and his support for our Ohio Student Success Center, Jack Hershey has made a measurable and important difference in the lives of community college students. Jack delivered a memorable speech about Batman. Yes… Batman! His point was that, while Batman has no superpowers, his great strength comes from being a life-long learner.

Economic Impact of Commencement

During my remarks, I pretended to give the graduates a brief “lecture” on the economics of their accomplishment. We had fun with that part: the graduates groaned when I told them that I would be lecturing them, and I kept my remarks brief. I explained the difference between three key economic concepts: price, cost and value. Then I cited two recent studies on the economic impact of earning an associate’s degree. Earlier in the week, I shared the same information with a Kiwanis club in Bowling Green and a Rotary club in Sylvania by showing this slide:

As it turns out, we actually awarded 464 degrees this semester; the 453 number comes from the official Board resolution passed earlier in the month. Both of the Georgetown CEW and CAPSEE studies are very interesting. Here are links so you can read them for yourself online.

After reviewing these numbers, I reminded the graduates of the non-monetary value of their accomplishment:

Economic impact aside, your Owens education is worth a great deal more than money. We hope that it not only leads you to a family-sustaining wage, but also a purposeful and rewarding life.  We believe that you will find the real-world skills, curiosity, critical thinking, and civic engagement that your degree represents to be priceless.

Graduation is always a great time of year. Thank you to everyone here at Owens who took the time to plan our excellent ceremony and be present for our wonderful students.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President

Help Portrait

Posted on December 6th, 2017

Owens Community College Brings Help Portrait Back to Northwest Ohio

On December 2, 2017, a group of Owens Community College employees, students, and community volunteers held a Help Portrait event at the Downtown Learning Center. Help Portrait is an amazing international community service movement that is based on a fairly simple idea. Volunteer photographers find people in need, take a professional portrait, and give it away. Created by Nashville photographer Jeremy Cowart, Help Portrait has taken place every December since 2008. The idea is explained very well in this brief video:

Owens volunteers, along with several photographers from the Toledo area, came together on Saturday to create a pop-up photography studio for the community. This was a very inspiring event, led by Krista Kiessling, Michael Sander, Dan McInnis and a number of Owens staff and students. That last time there was a Help Portrait event in Northwest Ohio was 2014. Our friends and partners at Hart, Inc. generously provided $1,000 to assist us with the cost of obtaining the necessary photo paper, thumb drives, and additional printers required for the event.

Our Marketing department made a great promotional flier for the event, and we promoted it heavily on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). James Schuller was there taking video of the event, and Marketing will be producing a short video about the activity.

At the Board meeting yesterday, I gave a brief slide show of the photos I took that day. I am an amateur photographer, so these are not professional shots. But I do think the images capture the event; here are a few of my slides. During the event, I only did three things: 1) welcome people, 2) thank volunteers, 3) photograph the process. Here are just a few of the photographs I shared with the Board.

While Help Portrait is a simple idea, executing a quality event is not. Our team was fantastic and attended to every detail with precision, compassion, and enthusiasm. The volunteers from Owens and the community worked tirelessly to make this event a success. We all left the DLC so inspired by what had taken place that day. I am so grateful to the volunteers who came together for this amazing event. James Schuller shot a bunch of video that day and put together a great movie about our event.

We are all looking forward to next year!

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.
Interim President