Sept. 26, 2007
By Mary Reed | Photo by Rick Fatica
Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut briefed the Ohio University community this afternoon on his vision for the University System of Ohio, a new initiative that calls for a 10-year master plan for higher education and promotes collaboration over competition.
"Our vision of the University System of Ohio is clear," Fingerhut said to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 in the Walter Hall Rotunda. "It's for Ohio's higher education system to be world class, with people from all around the globe clamoring to attend our schools."
Fingerhut said the main thrust of the University System of Ohio is to serve as a catalyst to improve the state's economy. "Collectively, the University System of Ohio can and will establish our state as one of the best places to establish or grow a business," he said, adding, "Talent is the currency of the new economy."
After delivering a brief overview of the history of public higher education in Ohio, and noting Ohio University pioneering role outlined in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Fingerhut said he believes now is a "unique historical moment" that calls for the state's public universities and colleges to stop competing and start collaborating.
The University System of Ohio is intended to result in the expansion in the number of college students in the state from 470,000 to 600,000 while at the same time increasing the affordability and quality of a higher education.
Fingerhut said the success of Ohio University and the success of the University System of Ohio are closely tied. "When we all work together, the sky's the limit."
He appealed to the campus community for support and involvement in the conversations that will be the basis of the 10-year master plan that will guide the University System of Ohio. The master plan is due to the Ohio General Assembly by March 31; Fingerhut hopes to complete a draft of it by the end of December.
"I know you are urgently having these conversations at OU," he said. "You are engaging in the process of identifying centers of excellence by setting up a graduate and professional program review process.
"We do not want to plan for you, but plan with you," Fingerhut stressed. "We cannot accomplish the outcomes we seek without your help."
Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis -- who also serves as president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio -- echoed these sentiments in remarks following Fingerhut's presentation. "Change is upon us and unless we seek to control it, it will control us," he said. He called on all members of the Ohio University community to support the planning and implementation of the goals of the University System of Ohio.
The state currently defines the University System of Ohio as a network of all Ohio public colleges and universities: 13 universities with 24 regional campuses, 23 two-year technical and community colleges, and a standalone medical school. Fingerhut announced that the system also soon will include Ohio's 49 adult career centers and 118 adult literacy programs.
Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl outlined the two initatives Ohio University is already undertaking. One is the creation of a Task Force on Centers of Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education, which will conduct a systematic and one-time review aimed at identifying the university's centers of excellence in graduate and professional education. She also has asked the Vision OHIO executive steering committee to refine the university's academic mission and vision statements "consistent with the broad strokes of the University System of Ohio."
Tomorrow: More on the Fingerhut visit