The summer graduation season is a particularly special time at our agency, given the focus of our work. I’ve been honored to deliver remarks at several commencement ceremonies this year, and two recent ceremonies stood out to me. At Central Ohio Technical College in Newark, 337 people earned degrees and certificates. And Rhodes State College in Lima boasted a record 613 graduates.
These two examples demonstrate that our community colleges continue to be an important resource, seeing increases in enrollment as Ohioans face difficult economic times and strive to change their careers or improve their earning potential. More and more people in our state are recognizing that our community colleges offer an opportunity to continue their education at a lower cost, with a high level of convenience, while also reducing cost to our taxpayers.
One of the most important points I made to these graduates, however, is their need to continue. The rest of us in Ohio need them to continue along the pathway of higher education, to a baccalaureate degree and possibly even beyond that. Experts say that for every one percent increase in the number of Ohioans with a baccalaureate degree or above, our state can see as much as $2.4 billion in economic benefit.
I told these graduates that Ohio taxpayers support their higher education out of self-interest – a desire to improve the number of new jobs created here, the number of new businesses that will be started here and the overall prosperity of our state.
These important goals also require that we keep our collective eyes on the goal of getting more diplomas into the hands of more Ohioans.