‘The new Owens’ begins: Trustees approve strategic plan


PERRYSBURG — The goal to establish “the new Owens” is well under way at the county’s only community
But the tagline of “your success starts here” is not going anywhere, promised Owens Community College
President Steve Robinson.
The college’s new strategic plan was shared with the trustees in February and included six improvement
goals. There are three or four objectives to each goal, as presented at that meeting.
“This is all of your plan,” Robinson told the board before it finalized the plan at a board workshop Feb.
College leaders have set key performance indicators (KPI) to establish how each goal will be measured.

For instance, the KPI for advancing Owens as a partner of choice for regional business and industry may
be measuring workforce partnerships and how many there are.
“We don’t currently have a report that quantifies our partnerships. We’re going to build one,” Robinson
The KPIs were not voted on but have been made available.
Only one goal had its objectives altered.
To improve college culture and quality of life, a key objective was changed to “intentionally promote
diversity” from “intentionally address diversity.” Another was to add “engagement” and the possibility
of removing increasing morale.
Removing the word morale may seem like a retreat from the commitment to the college, Robinson said.
“It would say a lot about our institution if we did not have a goal like this,” Robinson said.
Owens do not have a workforce that shares the diversity of our students, he continued, and improving that
diversity “is not something that happens by accident.”
Other goals include:
• Cultivating community image and advancement
Robinson’s hashtag #EndCCStigma has been shared nationwide.
Trustee Rita L. Russell asked if Robinson has received any feedback from four-year colleges who fear
Owens is stealing their freshman class.
“They’re not banking on the fact there is a stigma against community colleges,” he said. “They are keenly
interested in our graduates. We are an important pipeline.”
Ending the stigma isn’t an attempt to take market share away from four-year colleges but to grow the
audience that is thinking about going to college at all, he said.
Owens may be the first college in the nation pushing back against the stigma, Robinson said.
“There still is that perception that we’re less than. We’ve mobilized this idea to get away of stigma.”

A college should be judged on a number of issues, and not its status.
“It is engagement, it’s good faculty, it’s extracurricular activities, it’s having application of what
you learn in class,” he said. “I want people directly addressing this. It’s a cultural concept that has
nothing to do with our quality.”
KPIs include measuring K-12 community partner satisfaction and workforce partnerships.
• Increasing enrollment, completion and student success
KPIs include watching student program demand, and employment and transfer rates.
• Improving and enhancing student success
All the national data are saying that making student connections to campus and community resources “are
what moves the needle on college success,” Robinson said.
KPIs will include noting the transfer rate and employment for measuring post-college success; and
observing participation in clubs to measure student awareness of student life activities on campus.
• Developing workforce and labor market outcomes
Career and job placement services was pushed by former Gov. John Kasich, Robinson said.
“I expect it to continue with Gov. (Mike) DeWine, who is very employment focused,” he said.
Denise Smith, vice-president of academic affairs, said internships have been set up so “students get a
real opportunity to work and not just go and get people’s coffee.”
KPIs include monitoring employer program demand as well as internships and co-ops.
• Improving college culture and quality of life “is the human side of our organization, something we knew
we wanted to deal with” Robinson said.
“When we start collecting this date, the results may not be pretty,” he said, alluding to the past budget
cuts and layoffs. “We have to be OK with that.”
KPIs include tracking employee diversity and engagement and offering professional development.
• Building financial strength and capacity
KPIs include measuring the college’s primary reserve and net income ratios; its annual giving and capital
campaigns; and monitoring deferred maintenance.
The board also approved its mission and vision statements, after discussing why being a “premiere”
two-year college was added.
Adding the word “premiere” to the vision statement may raise some eyebrows, “but we’re fine with that,”
Robinson said. A vision statement is an aspiration desire.
Trustee Mary Beth Hammond did not have an issue with that word, saying the college is being bolder with
getting out into the community and getting rid of the old stigma of community colleges.
“Don’t do these things just to check a box,” Robinson said. “Do them to really impact change and get

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