President's Blog

Aspen Top 10 College Mission Statements

Posted on May 25th, 2018

The mission statement for Owens Community College is over 15 years old. It first appeared in this form in the College’s 2002 Annual Report, and it has not been revised since. The current statement does not define or differentiate Owens Community College. A central part of our 2019-2021 strategic planning work will center on discussions of our mission with a variety of internal and external stakeholders.

NOTE: We will NOT be changing or revising the college tagline, “your success starts here.” This is a vital part of our identity that has taken decades to build here in our region.

But our mission statement needs to change to reflect the unique and important role we play in Northwest Ohio.

Benchmarking Community College Missions

As a quick benchmarking exercise, here are the mission statements for the 10 finalist colleges for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence that were announced earlier this month. These mission statements range in length from 11 words to 92 words, but all of them seek to define and differentiate the college. These statements are excellent models to consider as we move forward with our strategic planning process.

I have provided links to the mission, vision and values pages for these colleges (just click on the name of the college). Many of these pages also contain links to the current strategic plan for that institution. The colleges are listed in alphabetical order (as they are in the Aspen Prize press release).

Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College – San Antonio, TX

“To inspire, empower, and educate our community for leadership and success.”

Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL

“Transforming students’ lives and enriching our diverse community through academic excellence, innovation, and meaningful career opportunities.”

CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, NY

“Kingsborough Community College of The City University of New York is a comprehensive community college providing both liberal arts and career education. It is dedicated to promoting student learning and development as well as strengthening and serving its diverse community.”

Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL

“As a leader in education and innovation, Indian River State College transforms lives by offering high-quality, affordable and accessible education to the residents of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie counties through traditional and online delivery. IRSC is a comprehensive college accredited to award Baccalaureate Degrees, Associate Degrees, and Career and Technical Certificates.”

Miami Dade College  – Miami, FL

“As democracy’s college, Miami Dade College changes lives through accessible, high-quality teaching and learning experiences. The College embraces its responsibility to serve as an economic, cultural and civic leader for the advancement of our diverse global community.”

Mitchell Technical Institute – Mitchell, SD

“It is the mission of Mitchell Technical Institute to provide skills for success in technical careers.”

Odessa College – Odessa, TX

“Odessa College shall lead the way in preparing its students and community for the future.  The College District offers exemplary courses, programs, and services to assist students in achieving their educational goals and becoming lifelong learners, community builders, and global citizens.  Odessa College shall empower its employees to model excellence in their service to students, colleagues, and the community.”

Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA

“The mission of Pasadena City College is to provide a high quality, academically robust learning environment that encourages, supports and facilitates student learning and success. The College provides an academically rigorous and comprehensive curriculum for students pursuing educational and career goals as well as learning opportunities designed for individual development. The College is committed to providing access to higher education for members of the diverse communities within the District service area and to offering courses, programs, and other activities to enhance the economic conditions and the quality of life in these communities.”

Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom – Lakewood, WA

“Pierce College creates quality educational opportunities for a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world.”

San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX

“Our mission is to ensure student success, create seamless transitions and enrich the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

Another common feature of the mission statements from these highly-recognized colleges is that they are very specific to the region and context of the college itself. This will also be true of our new mission statement. Our new mission statement will need to be specific to Owens Community College; it will define and differentiate our institution in the context of our region, as well as the students and communities we serve.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Strategic Planning 2019-2021

Posted on May 23rd, 2018

It is time for Owens Community College to develop a multi-year, comprehensive strategic plan.

One of Stephen Covey’s famous 7 habits is “begin with the end in mind.” (That’s habit #2 if you have read the book). As we begin our strategic planning process for 2019-2021, I think it’s important that we start by describing what will come out of this process. So let’s start there:

We will present a 3-year strategic plan to the Board of Trustees at their February 26, 2019 retreat. Developed over an eight-month time period with extensive internal and external stakeholder input, this plan will outline refreshed mission, vision and values statements for Owens Community College, as well as a comprehensive set of strategic goals and metrics. 

That is the “end” result of the plan development, but the process will not end there. In fact, the Board adoption of the plan will just be the beginning.

In the coming months, many of my entries here on the President’s Blog will concern our strategic planning process. This process will be a great deal of work, but it will also be incredibly engaging. Having done this many times, I can tell you that the conversations we are about to have regarding the future of Owens Community College will be exciting. Our work on the strategic planning process will fall into three phases.

Phase I: Planning & Organization (May – August 2018)

During this first phase, we will begin “planning to plan.” In other words, we will be building the infrastructure and capacity to conduct our planning process. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. Owens has an existing set of mission, vision and values statements. We also have an existing set of Strategic Priorities for fiscal year 2018. The mission, vision and values are quite old, however, and the strategic priorities were developed with a very small number of stakeholders. Both will need to be refreshed, and a great deal of internal, external and community-specific stakeholders will need to be engaged to create a quality 2019-2021 plan. The official start of that “Phase II” part of the process will be opening week of the 2018-2019 academic year at the end of August.

Phase II: Stakeholder Engagement (September – November 2018)

One of the most important things we are currently planning in Phase I is the structure of our internal and external stakeholder engagement activities. For me, this is what I call “the fun part.” Internally, we will lead very focused sessions that ask our employees to engage two large strategic questions: “What are your hopes and dreams for Owens in the future?” and “What are the most pressing organizational goals for Owens in the next three years?” These discussions will take place on campus during work hours as part of our daily routine. We are currently planning for the structure, facilitation and schedule of these events. My goal is to engage every employee who wants to play a role in shaping our future in this process. We will also be scheduling similar stakeholder events for the community. This will take place across our service district in locations such as public libraries, city council chambers, fire halls, etc. I have worked on numerous community engagement projects such as these. Not only are the events interesting and fun, but they also promote dialogue and good will about our College.

Phase III: Analysis, Formulation & Adoption (December 2018 – February 2019)

By Thanksgiving 2018 (November 22), the majority of the stakeholder engagement activity will have been completed. We will then have a great deal of data and input, and the work to analyze and synthesize what we have learned will begin. The work to revise and update our mission statement, along with the vision and values statements will take place during this phase. Goals will be thematically grouped into categories (similar to the Strategic Priorities document that is currently in place). Very important in this process will be the assignment of metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) that will allow us to assess our progress toward the new goals during the 2019-2021 timeframe. Drafts of these statements and goals will be posted for review, and the Board will see a “first reading” of a proposed plan at the regular Board meeting in February. The “begin with the end in mind” goal is to present a final 2019-2021 Strategic Plan to the Board of Trustees for their consideration and possible adoption on February 26, 2019.

I realize that this seems like a great deal of work. Owens Community College has gone for a considerable amount of time without a formal, multi-year, comprehensive strategic plan. I am excited to move forward with this busy but engaging part of our journey together. The planning process will bring with it a great deal of dialogue, soul searching, and introspection. Most importantly, it will be an opportunity for us to ask ourselves and the students and communities we serve what should be and what we should do.

And I am quite serious when I say it is going to be fun. I look forward to working with you on this very important process.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


Indispensable Partner

Posted on May 21st, 2018

I was recently asked to submit a very brief guest column in the Toledo Business Journal. I thought I would post my short, 530-word column here on the blog. The audience for this piece is business owners in our region. Our graduates and the participants in our many workforce training programs are vital to the economic vitality of Northwest Ohio. In this column, I attempt to highlight our strength of corporate training and workforce development; I also encourage business leaders to reach out to us for their higher education and workforce training needs.

The phrase “indispensable partner” is something that came out of the focus group work during the presidential search. Because I was a candidate, I did not participate in those forums. But that phrase is a fantastic way to express one portion of our vision for the future. As we work to help our region with important social and economic issues such as college affordability, degree attainment and workforce development, we want our local partners to say “thank goodness we have Owens Community College,” or perhaps “What would we do without Owens Community College?”

TBJ Workforce Update – June 2018

In the paragraph about corporate training, I tell a real story about the grand opening of the Dana Toledo Driveline facility. Because the Toledo Business Journal is a trade publication, I decided not to name the corporation in the article, but I feel it is appropriate to discuss it here. Our team was so proud to hear the Dana executives describe how crucial their partnership with Owens Community College was for the successful launch of their facility. Many months earlier, we traveled to an existing Dana facility in Dry Ridge, Kentucky to help design their pre-employment assessment and onboarding. Working with Dana’s HR and plant management team, Owens was truly an “indispensable partner” for Dana.


Here is the text of my guest column:


Your Workforce Success Starts Here:

Owens Community College seeks to be an indispensable partner for our region.

As the newly-appointed president of Owens Community College, I am delighted to serve the students, communities and businesses of Northwest Ohio. Because I am not new to the College, I have had the privilege to work with a wide variety of corporations and organizations for a number of years here in Northwest Ohio. For over fifty years, Owens has played a pivotal role in the economic development of our region. Our graduates are critical to the schools, hospitals, businesses and agencies that make our community thrive. We strive to be an engine of workforce development that prepares our students for in-demand jobs and fosters innovative solutions to the issues facing our region.

As one of Ohio’s 23 public two-year colleges, Owens is proud to be the community college for the entirety of Lucas, Wood, and Hancock counties, as well as school districts in Ottawa and Sandusky counties, which comprise our legal service district. We are proud to be your community college.

A vital part of our vision for Owens Community College is to be an indispensable partner for the success of Northwest Ohio. We want to work with you.

Corporate Training

One particular strength of Owens is our Workforce and Community Services (WCS) division, which works directly with companies to strengthen and develop their workforce. Given the workforce demands currently placed on our community partners, WCS provides vital support for interview events, onboarding, and pre-employment assessment. At a recent grand opening of a major manufacturing facility here in the region, I sat with pride as a number of corporate leaders spoke about our teams at Owens from the podium. They commented on the quality of our workforce support for the launch of their facility, and several company leaders said they could not have executed their work so quickly and efficiently without the help of Owens Community College. It is our goal to replicate those experiences across the region and become the indispensable partner our community needs.

Strategic Planning.

During the Fall of 2018, our team at Owens Community College will be launching a strategic planning process. We need the input of our local businesses as we formulate our goals for the next several years. In the weeks ahead, I look forward to speaking with many of you and gaining your input about our future direction and priorities. Your insight and perspective will be critical as we develop a 2019-2022 strategic plan. As we work to craft our strategic plan and vision for the future, I ask that you and your business become involved in the community stakeholder events that will take place in the Fall of 2018. If you are able, we would love your input on the programs and services that impact your industry. We value the input of our business and community partners who serve on program advisory groups that help keep our programs current. I would be delighted to hear from you directly:

I ask that you help craft our vision for the future as we work together to help our region thrive.

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.