Within the context of workforce preparation, we asked college and university presidents what their single-most significant or innovative campus accomplishment was for 2016, and what they see as their biggest challenge in 2017. Their responses:
Dr. Dorey Diab, President, North Central State College, Mansfield
“North Central State College’s Kehoe Center for Advanced Learning received $13 million in federal and state funding to assist in workforce training in the Mansfield area. Increasing the level of awareness among area business and industry leaders is a key goal for North Central State College.”
Dr. Jerome Webster, President, Terra State Community College, Fremont
“We were very excited to send our first student to study abroad in China. Considering we are a rural community, not only did this impact the student, Katerina Molyet, but it was significant for our campus community and the community at large. We hope to continually find ways for our students to focus on the global economy and the world marketplace. One of the challenges we’ve taken head on is helping students open themselves to a new perspective by understanding the value of a quality education available from a community college.”
Dr. Mike Bower, President, Owens Community College, Toledo
“The single most significant accomplishment in preparing our students for the workforce in 2016 has been the addition of our truck driving school. The trucking service industry creates significant employment opportunities for Northwest Ohio. Tractor-trailer truck drivers are the third-most in-demand job in Ohio with 1,684 annual job openings, according to Ohio Means Jobs. The most significant challenge has been students access to financial aid to participate in the program. As a program that is not financial aid eligible, students’ have limited options to pay the $4,500 cost of the program. Currently, most of our students are securing funding from the Ohio Means Jobs system, but funding is limited.”
Bonnie L. Coe, Ph.D, President, Central Ohio Technical College, Newark
“The mission of Central Ohio Technical College is to meet the technical education and training needs of students and employers in the area. In 2016, while celebrating the 45th anniversary of the college and its mission, we learned COTC is producing the highest-paid graduates among two-year colleges in the state. COTC was ranked number one in Ohio and number 19 in the nation by PayScale in its 2016-17 College Salary Report ranking the best community and career colleges by salary potential.”
“That is the single most significant accomplishment for COTC this year because it shows that the college’s focus on its mission is paying off for students, literally and figuratively. Our students are completing degrees that train them for in-demand jobs that compensate them well. I couldn’t be more pleased with this ranking and how well our students are doing after graduation. Along those same lines, the biggest challenge facing our institution is on the employer side of our mission. Business and industry leaders are telling us they need more of the highly skilled, technically trained graduates COTC produces to fill open positions for great jobs. We need to fill the pipeline with students, so the employers in the area can continue to grow their businesses and thrive.”
Jim Tressel, President, Youngstown State University, Youngstown
“This past year, we worked hard to better align our academic advising with our expanded career services efforts. We believe this will better prepare our students for employment opportunities upon graduation. In addition, we expanded our co-op and intern efforts across the campus and continue to have success in getting our students important employment experience in their field while still in school. On the other hand, our biggest challenge has been measuring our placement data. We need to do better in knowing where our students are going when they graduate.”
Dr. Michael V. Drake, President, The Ohio State University, Columbus
“A significant advancement is the creation of our campuswide University Institute for Teaching & Learning — the first of its kind at Ohio State — committed to supporting and elevating our teaching and, as a direct result, the preparation of our students. The institute’s mission is linked directly to one of our greatest national challenges: providing access to an excellent and affordable college education. As we focus on ensuring that talented students from all socioeconomic backgrounds have the opportunity to earn a degree, the institute is designed to help faculty create the best learning environments possible so that all Buckeyes succeed.”
Beverly Warren, Ph.D., Ed.D., President, Kent State University, Kent
“At Kent State, we created two complementary programs this year to get students engaged early on with career exploration: FlashConnections and Flashternships. FlashConnections is designed to immerse first-year students in the community and expose them to topics and issues that may connect to a future career of choice. Through their First-Year Experience course, these students participate in theme-based, out-of-class experiences designed to promote career exploration, personal development and informed citizenship. Some of these experiences involved trips that took place before classes began and some took place over a weekend during the fall semester. Flashternships are micro-internships targeted to freshman- and sophomore-level students. They enable students to job shadow for a one-day experience or a five-day, 20-hour experience. The greatest challenge associated with these and other experiential learning opportunities is having enough worksites and related support systems to reach all students, and to do so without negatively impacting timely degree completion.”
Mary Ellen Mazey, Ph.D., President, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green
“In 2016 we completed implementation of the Falcon Internship Guarantee, offering every student a guaranteed co-op, internship or other experiential learning experience. The program is a guided pathway to ensure students’ readiness for their internship or co-op experiences. The program includes a self-assessment, individualized and group coaching, resume and interviewing preparation, job fair preparation and coaching, and links to employers. In its first year, more than 1,300 students enrolled in the program.
“It is important to remember the benefits of a broad-based, liberal arts education. We need to think beyond preparing students for their first job. We must give them the critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills to advance and succeed in different roles and even new careers throughout their lifetimes. At the same time, experiential learning is absolutely essential. We must continue to develop more partnerships with the public, non-profit and business sectors to ensure every student has an opportunity for an internship or co-op.”
Dr. Morris W. Beverage, Jr., President, Lakeland Community College, Kirkland
“Lakeland Community College has engaged a noted design and innovation firm to ensure the college’s new makerspace meets the needs of students and employers. Unlike traditional makerspaces that primarily provide tools and materials for product development, Lakeland’s makerspace will provide unique learning experiences for students in all disciplines to apply their knowledge and gain skills that help them succeed in the workforce. A team of consultants, with college representatives embedded in the process, is using a design thinking process to address the needs of students and employers with creative solutions. In addition to designing the space, another challenge is to develop creative programming that will provide students with both the technical and soft skills employers are seeking, such as developing creative confidence to solve problems.”
Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, President, Central State University, Wilberforce
President Jackson-Hammond pointed to two innovative programs that the Office of Career Services either hosts or co-hosts:
“The ‘Marauder Closet’ is designed to assist all students and majors with professional attire to help them to secure internships and employment opportunities prior to the career and internship fairs and/or for interviews. It also acts as a way to enhance the confidence they need to enter the workforce. The closet consists of donated suits, shirts, ties, skirts and other business professional items. The items are available to students at no cost. During the fall 2016 semester, approximately 150 students selected items from the closet.
“‘Pearls For Girls, Ties Guys’ is designed to teach students appropriate dress and behavior for interview situations and there is a question and answer forum prior to the Career & Internship Fair. The presenters are Central State University alums who provide tips as well as recommendations on the Do’s and Dont’s to prepare for the workforce. All participants receive a gift of pearls for the girls and a tie for the guy. There were approximately 42 participants at this event.
“One of the biggest challenges is to ensure that our students are taking full advantage of the many services and opportunities that the Office of Career Services has to offer.”
Matthew J. Wilson, President, The University of Akron, Akron
“The University of Akron’s most visible accomplishment this year was the September opening of the state-of-the-art, $1.2 million College of Engineering Swagelok Career Center. More than 1,000 of our engineering graduates enter the domestic and international workforce annually, and 90 percent of them have a year of co-op experience, which makes them very attractive to employers. The new Swagelok Career Center is technology-enabled to allow these highly sought-after graduates to engage in remotely conducted video meetings, as well as in-person interviews, presentations and other communications. A nice touch that connects new graduates to a century of their predecessors is an art installation featuring more than 60 slide rules — some of them passed down through generations — donated by our engineering alumni.
“The biggest challenge to preparing students for the workforce is the most fundamental: helping them afford their education. So many of our students work part- or even full-time that it often impinges on their ability to add experiential learning to their schedules. That is one reason we launched an initiative titled ‘Making a Difference Moving Forward’ that allows alumni and donors to contribute to non-endowed scholarships that directly and immediately fund student education.”
Dr. David Harrison, Columbus State Community College, Columbus
“One of Columbus State’s most significant accomplishments in 2016 has been the continued growth and maturation of the Modern Manufacturing Work Study program. The program began in 2012 as a partnership with Honda North America, which sought to build a talent pipeline in anticipation of maintenance technician retirements. Upon graduation from Marysville and Worthington-area high schools, students pursued an innovative curriculum in which they attended classes at Columbus State, worked at Honda, and graduated with associate degrees and full-time positions at Honda with starting salaries above $50,000. Four years after the launch of the Honda partnership, the Modern Manufacturing program has expanded to include eight active employers, each of which collaborates on the same classroom-to-worksite model first introduced in 2012. Participants include Worthington Industries, Pharma Force, and Honda, whose participants over four years number more than 120. The biggest challenge we face going forward is finding ways to replicate the Work Study model with partners in other industries, including health care and insurance. But given the lessons learned through early successes in manufacturing and the collaborative culture among Central Ohio employers, Columbus State looks forward to more good outcomes for regional workers and businesses.”