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Roderick J. McDavis

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OHIO's Impact: Centers of Excellence play key role in University's economic impact

Note: Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis is touring the state during the month of February to discuss the findings of a recently released economic impact report. Today, McDavis is visiting with media in the Cincinnati and Dayton area. This story is one such example of the ways in which Ohio University’s impact can be seen and felt in the aspect of talent and workforce throughout the Appalachian region and the state of Ohio.

According to the University's economic impact report, by 2018, it is projected that the state of Ohio will have a total of 1.7 million job openings because of job creation and retirements and it is predicted that 57 percent of the jobs will require some form of post-secondary training.

With statistics like those in mind, Ohio University is working hard to make sure many of those available jobs are filled with its qualified alumni.

Ohio University is investing valuable resources in its three Centers of Excellence, which were created as economic drivers that would generate public and private investment, attract elite intellectual talent and establish an entrepreneurial environment that retains top college graduates.

The three centers, The Scripps College of Communication; Energy and the Environment; and Health and Wellness: From Translational Research to Best Practices for Rural/Underserved Population, were first established in early 2010 by then Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

The centers were established in these key industrial areas where future job growth was expected: advanced energy, biomedicine and health care, agriculture, food production and bioproducts, advanced transportation and aerospace, advanced materials and sensors, and cultural and societal transformation.

Since then, these three centers have realized significant progress toward their goals.

The Scripps College of Communication

The Scripps College offers nearly 3,000 internship opportunities at many of the largest and best known companies around the U.S., including Procter & Gamble, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and National Geographic. The college also provides opportunities for students in some of the state's top news agencies, including The Ohio News Network, Scripps Howard, The Columbus Dispatch and The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Support from the Scripps Howard Foundation also creates unique internship opportunities for E.W. Scripps School of Journalism students at the Scripps Howard News Bureau in Washington, D.C.

All five of the Scripps College schools are nationally recognized for their academic excellence and their alumni's accomplishments in their respective professions. For instance, the School of Visual Communication was named one of the top three photography programs in the country by pdn edu magazine and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism was ranked among the top five schools nationally by Writer's Digest.  

"The Scripps College has a high rate of placing its students within five to six months after graduation," said Scripps College Dean Scott Titsworth. "We attribute that to training our students to be on the cutting edge of communication. For the last several years, we have emphasized training the students broadly using the newest forms of technology in the field. In the field of communications you can't train simply in one area -- students have to be cross trained."

Titsworth said that because of the advanced modern training Scripps students receive, they are positioned well to go into employment and immediately become change and transformational agents.

"We are finding out that our students are not only becoming valuable workers, but also becoming leaders," Titsworth said.  

Energy and the Environment

Ohio University plays a pivotal role in enhancing both the environmental and economic conditions of Appalachian Ohio by identifying and addressing the energy and environmental needs of critical concern to the region and the state. It also contributes with the creation of high-tech businesses and jobs.

"The need for reliable, environmentally-friendly, and affordable energy is critical to the wellbeing of Ohio and to the security of our nation," said Scott Miller, director of energy and environmental programs at the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. "Safe and reliable sources of domestic fuel are critical to stabilizing the cost of energy and reducing our reliance on unstable foreign energy sources. Of equal importance is the ability to build strong, vibrant, resilient and sustainable communities that embody the spirit and ingenuity of our Appalachian culture."

Miller added that the University has established significant research, demonstration, and development strengths in the area of energy and the environment. It also has focused on the production and delivery of energy and fuels, as well as monitoring and control technologies that reduce harmful pollution.

"Ohio University is unique in terms of research activity and infrastructure, as well as being geographically located in the heart of Ohio's coal, oil and gas fields," Miller said. "We also are at the center of the nation's electric power 'breadbasket,' the Ohio River Valley, home to almost 40 percent of the nation's electric generating capacity."

The proven need for cutting-edge energy research, combined with the established programs in energy and environmental remediation, led to the development of the state's first-of-its-kind Consortium for Energy, Economics and the Environment (CE3) as part of Ohio University's University Research Priorities process in 2005. CE3, which has more than 50 University researchers regularly collaborating, is a partnership between the Russ College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. CE3 has secured $43.8 million in external grants and contracts to work on more than 550 projects.

"Ohio University focuses on multidisciplinary solutions to critical issues at the crossroads of America's energy future including the production of advanced fuels from regional and alternative sources; the minimization and remediation of pollution; and the impact energy production has on the region's economy and communities," Miller said.

CE3 enhances the University's demonstrated capacity for interdisciplinary research in these areas, promotes economic development through the generation of new intellectual property, and adds value to regional businesses that seek to reduce energy consumption or aim to develop innovative energy or environmental technologies.

Health and Wellness: From Translational Research to Best Practices for Rural Underserved Populations

One of Ohio University's goals is to educate and train the necessary workforce to ensure the accessibility of quality healthcare services and the promotion of healthy lifestyles in the Appalachian region.

This goal is helped by the fact that the University boasts a nationally recognized Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM), the state's largest nursing school and a myriad of allied health programs that focus on supplying employees for the region's most in-demand health and wellness professions.  

The economic impact report points out that nearly 60 percent of OU-HCOM graduates are practicing in Ohio and they make up 12 percent of all physicians in rural communities. It also notes that OU-HCOM's Community Health Programs reached nearly 32,000 patients between 2011 and 2012. In 2012-13, Ohio University graduated more than 2,300 students from its healthcare-based academic programs.

At the end of the day, Ohioans can be assured that Ohio University faculty, staff and students are working hard to provide healthcare services to the people in the region with the greatest need.

To learn more about Ohio University Centers of Excellence and talent and workforce development initiatives, read the Ohio University Economic Impact Assessment. Visit the website for additional information about the impact assessment and to view a full, PDF version of the report.