Owens hopes state cuts are reconsidered
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 10:38
Owens Community College officials are waiting to see if proposed cuts in funding happen as proposed Friday by Gov. John Kasich.
"I don't think so," was the response Dr. Mike Bower, Owens president, gave when asked whether he thought the proposed 3 percent cut in funding was a given.
Owens, along with Bowling Green State University, are two of the 17 state institutions expecting cuts in funding for fiscal year 2014, despite higher education funding increasing in the state's budget by 2 percent, or $1.78 million.
Kasich wants to see colleges focus less on enrollment numbers and more on graduation rates, a difficult task when many students attend a two-year college for a few classes then transfer to a four-year school.
"Retention will be very important," Bower said this morning. But, "we've got to define what a completer is."
If a student takes coursework at Owens, then transfers to BGSU or the University of Toledo, for instance, "you've completed your goal," Bower stated.
And, he added, that student's chance of completing a degree is greater.
"We have to look at that measure as well."
He said he and other community college presidents are working with the Ohio Association of Community Colleges to determine just what the new funding formula will look like.
"That's something we're working through to see how it's defined."
He said he hadn't heard whether the proposed 3 percent cut was for each year of the new biennium budget, or a total.
He said presidents also will talk with the Ohio Board of Regents to review the fiscal year 2014 numbers.
Full time equivalence (FTE) enrollment represents 45 percent of Owens' funding formula for this year.
Bower, who took over at Owens in 2012, said he wasn't aware of the state previously looking at graduation rates to determine funding.
He was at a conference in Washington, D.C., this morning, and enrollment numbers as well as budget numbers were not immediately available from the college.
He did say the college was working on providing services to better prepare students, but did not elaborate on what they were. The concern is, "they have a lot of other issues they face" such as employment obligations.
But Bower was happy the governor was paying attention to higher education.
"I'm very pleased the governor is looking at two-year colleges. Higher education is something that is on his agenda."