Ohio University to shift regional campus offerings to meet workforce needs, student demand
Investments will focus on high-interest programs, scholarships
(Athens) This month, Ohio University is launching a process to invest in high-demand degrees that meet market needs in communities served by its regional campuses in Chillicothe, Lancaster, Ironton, St. Clairsville and Zanesville. The commitment to new degree offerings is part of a multi-prong investment across the University’s regional commuter campuses, all focused on increasing degree attainment to meet workforce demand across the region in fields such as healthcare, education and business leadership.
“One of Ohio University’s greatest strengths is our deep commitment to meeting needs across the regions we serve, especially in rural and Appalachian Ohio, and our Regional Higher Education campuses are a big part of that,” said Ohio University President Hugh Sherman. “The needs of the communities we serve are ever changing, and we need to keep pace with and be responsive to those demands.”
Sherman said part of that response is doubling down on the University’s commitment to affordability through its regional campuses. This spring, the University launched its OHIO Regional Promise Award, which ensures incoming freshmen who earned a 3.0 high school GPA and are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant can attend OHIO for free on a four-year renewable regional campus scholarship. Plus, students who successfully complete one year at a regional campus can qualify for a renewable $5,000 scholarship to transfer and complete their degree in Athens. The University is now working to expand high school partnerships to offer more College Credit Plus courses, which can lower the total cost of a degree for families.
At the same time the University has launched new programming at regional campuses. This spring OHIO began accepting applications for its accredited Bachelor of Science in Business, now offered at each of its five regional campuses in a convenient hybrid format. In March, OHIO announced the expansion of its Bachelor of Science in Nursing to the Lancaster campus, making the degree now available on all campuses.
The University is now investing in additional market research to further identify degrees needed in each market. As OHIO works to identify and build new programs, it will phase out a small number of degree programs with historically low interest from students. Students enrolled in programs identified for phase out will continue to have access to courses needed to complete their degree.
“Our regional campuses have always been innovative in programming,” Ohio University Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Sayrs said. “What’s different now is that we’re thinking more broadly across the system, and we have invested in market research tools to help us validate assumptions about what prospective students and employers in each of our communities need.”
This fall, class times will be aligned on Tuesdays and Thursday on the Athens and regional campuses. Sayrs said this system-wide approach allows the University to meet student demand more efficiently. The new process will allow students access to more course options – including online, hybrid and face-to-face options, delivered on and through multiple campus locations.
Course alignment also will assist as the University works across the regional system to build “meta major” pathways for students to complete general coursework in fields such as pre-biology, pre-STEM, or pre-social sciences with clear pathways into a wide variety of bachelor’s degree programs at a variety of campuses, including OHIO’s Athens campus. These new meta majors will be available to incoming students beginning in Fall 2023.
At a virtual open forum on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, President Sherman and Provost Sayrs shared additional details with RHE faculty and staff. Follow-up meetings will be held on each campus in August for campus-specific questions and discussion.
“As we make changes to schedules and enhance our academic offerings, we will do it in a way that is responsive to our students and our state,” Sherman said. “I’m excited about seeing the impact these changes will have on our work to educate more students, to make a degree more affordable for families, and to fuel economic progress in the regions we serve.”