Focused on Completion

Since the beginning of 2012, I have focused the Ohio Board of Regents on one main concept: Completion.

In the near future, we will publish a strategic plan that emphasizes the importance of higher education to the economic future of Ohio.

In our country's highly competitive and unpredictable global economy, the only certainty is that the jobs of tomorrow will flow to communities, states, and nations with the educated populations qualified to fill them. There is a clear and well-documented connection between education and economic development. Thus, the role of the Ohio Board of Regents and the University System of Ohio is critical to the economic future of Ohio. The economic growth of Ohio is certainly dependent on higher education.

Ohio's proportion of adults with bachelor's degrees in the workforce, sadly, remains in the bottom quarter of the states, typically six percentage points below the national average. This must change, and strategies to improve on this statistic are set forth in this plan.

The mission of the University System of Ohio is to increase the percentage of Ohioans with degrees – all degrees – whether one-year certificates, two-year, or four-year degrees. This can be best accomplished by embracing strategies that advance degree completion like "expanding effective articulation and transfer credit programs," such as the program at Zane State College.

The fact is, less than half of the students who enter our public colleges and universities actually complete a program which grants them a credential of value or degree. We must achieve a much higher rate of certificate and degree completion.

A student cannot enhance their employment prospects by listing courses or semesters completed on their resume. When they leave college after multiple semesters of study without a certificate or a degree they have wasted their money and the state's money. It is an economic loss and a loss of human potential that must be stopped.

Our focus must be ensuring students complete their education by earning applicable certificates, degrees or other credentials which demonstrate they are qualified to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.