Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Campus-wide session emphasizes focused approach to best achieve OU-C’s educational mission

A focus of campus plans emphasizes easing the financial burden for OU-C students to pursue their college goals.

Chillicothe Campus members focused on how to best meet the campus’ strategic objectives in the most effective way during the annual strategic planning session and fall semester opening session on campus.

STRATEGIC PLANNING: MORE EFFICIENT, STUDENT-CENTERED APPROACH

The theme for the planning meeting reflected the priority that is being placed on working more smartly during the 2015-16 academic year: “Efficiency and Affordability for the Chillicothe Campus.”

“This is part of a statewide mandate involving public universities,” Dean Martin Tuck explained. “The governor has appointed a task force to focus on efficiency and affordability in an effort to reduce college costs for students. A university-wide group is developing plans for a report that will be developed as part of the statewide plan. Under the umbrella of Regional Higher Education, each regional campus is developing plans and initiatives, and the planning meeting is part of that endeavor.”

Along those lines, Associate Dean Brenda Phillips is chairing a campus committee of faculty and staff members. “The goal is to develop plans we can implement that are applicable to the Chillicothe Campus and specific to our students, with the goal of finding practical ways to lessen the financial burdens of pursuing their college goals,” she said.

Other members of the campus working group are Jim McKean, Robb Moats, Ashlee Digges, John Fisher and Bill Modzelewski.

“The OU-C group developed general themes that help to identify areas where we can make further improvements in terms of efficiency and affordability,” Dean Tuck said.

Those campus four areas of focus are:
•    Maximizing Technology
•    Re-envision Course Scheduling
•    Shared Resources
•    Leveraging Scholarship Dollars

During the planning meeting, breakout groups were held in each area of emphasis, providing input from individuals throughout campus.

SHARED GOVERNANCE AND PRACTICAL STEPS

“It is important to allow campus members an opportunity to become engaged stakeholders in this process. Since they know the campus better than anyone, they should have a voice in designing initiatives. They know how to best serve our students,” Phillips said.

Dean Tuck emphasized the importance of developing initiatives that are actionable and can be implemented with regards to the campus’ mission and resources.

“For example, in looking at scheduling, we want to have a more student-centered approach and offer classes that align with their schedules. One possibility is we may want to offer a skeleton schedule and then add sections as classes fill up, thereby responding to students’ needs. Another example involves shared resources. We are already sharing an accessibility coordinator with the Lancaster campus. Maybe there are there other opportunities to share resources and personnel with other regional campuses. Or, can we use technology to offer more blended and online classes, as well as utilize OULN capabilities to provide classes that are comprised of students throughout the system but would not have enough students from one campus to be feasible?”

STATE OF THE CAMPUS: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

In addressing the state of the campus, Dean Tuck noted that OU-C can build upon several strengths and that the campus also needs to address some challenges.

Among positive aspects he noted:
•    Fall semester enrollment is stable, with headcount at 2,345, a 1 percent increase over 2,316 a year ago
•    The College Credit Plus program has significantly contributed to the enrollment numbers
•    Freshman enrollment is on the rise, an increase of 3.3 percent over fall 2014, offering a strong foundation for growth
•    The OU-C portion of the university-wide “Promise Lives” capital campaign raised nearly $793,000 for scholarship endowment, far exceeding the $500,000 goal

As for challenges to be addressed:
•    Maintaining enrollment
•    Increasing retention rates. The latest retention rate for students between their first and second years on campus is 51 percent
•    Campus FTE (Full Time Equivalency) has decreased 5 percent in the past year
•    Budget reductions because of the drop in FTE and adjusting to the university’s RCM model as well as the new subsidy model
•    Look to reduce the OU-C student loan default rate of 35 percent

The dean also highlighted several new campus projects and initiatives.

Academic initiatives include:
•    More than 150 College Credit Plus students are on campus this fall
•    The campus has partnered with Pickaway-Ross Career and Technology Center to offer the career center’s sports medicine technologies program in the Shoemaker Center
•    Learning Communities, which are designed to enhance student engagement and support retention efforts, are underway this fall
•    The Emergency Response and Training Center is experiencing expanded use
•    New classroom technology (smartboards/screens and new OULN system) enhances classroom instruction

Among non-academic advances are:
•    New campus web site was launched in April
•    Campus has migrated to the Catmail/VOIP  phone system
•    Completion of the Shoemaker Center pedestrian bridge
•    Electrical upgrades will begin in Bennett Hall this fall

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