President's Blog

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 or

Please stay safe and warm,

Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


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.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.


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 snow pushers 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:

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 Sandusky 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.


Randy Gardner Named ODHE Chancellor

Posted on January 10th, 2019

What a fantastic day for higher education in Ohio!

Today we learned that Governor-elect Mike DeWine has appointed our own Sen. Randy Gardner to the position of Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). The Chancellor position is far and away the most important cabinet-level position in the executive branch of government when it comes to higher education policy here in Ohio. Senator Gardner was our commencement speaker in Spring 2015, and he has been a true friend of the College in the State House. The photo above with Board Chair Dee Talmage was taken before the graduation ceremony four years ago.

During the Kasich administration, current ODHE Chancellor John Carey and his team led important reforms that have helped thousands of students across Ohio. Chancellor Carey was especially helpful to Owens during the time of Fiscal Watch. Owens is grateful to Chancellor Carey for his leadership over the past several years. Under Chancellor Carey’s leadership, our dual enrollment flourished with College Credit Plus, and the new SSI funding formula drove key student success reforms. Chancellor Carey has a proud legacy of accomplishments at the helm of ODHE. Here at Owens, we will always be grateful for his leadership.

Owens has always had a strong relationship with Senator Gardner during his time in the legislature. We are especially excited to continue that strong partnership as Randy Gardner assumes leadership at the Ohio Department of Higher Education.


Steve Robinson, Ph.D.