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Case for Change

A spring morning photo of Wilson and Cutler Hall

Ohio University was the first public university in the Northwest Territory, and it set the standard for public education in the state and the region. As we face dramatic shifts in the delivery of and demand for higher education across the nation, Ohio University must reclaim its position as an industry leader, actively redefining what public education can and should be and what it must deliver to a new generation of students.

This commitment will require a renewed willingness to take strategic risks in the pursuit of meeting student expectations, improving outcomes, and delivering an education that provides lifelong value.

The Case for Change

Higher education is undergoing a fundamental shift and Ohio University must evolve to adapt and be on the leading edge of this new reality. Technology, in its multi-dimensional forms, is transforming not just how we reach students and how we do research, but also how our students expect to learn, how they form beliefs, and how they connect with each other. More and more people, of every age and from every walk of life around the world, have access to higher education in more modalities than we could have imagined only 25 years ago. And more and more, higher education has splintered into various sub-segments, e.g., the multiplying of online and for-profit educational options. Increasingly, students swirl—they take College Credit Plus classes in high school, summer classes from a community college, and online classes from another institution, all while attending yet another institution during the academic year. And what used to be called “nontraditional” students— students who didn’t go to college right after completing high school—now make up the fastest-growing population of undergraduate students: They are the “new traditional” students.

This is not the first time American higher education has faced changes of this magnitude and shifted accordingly. While remaining true to its mission, Ohio University has also pivoted to respond to changes in enrollment, technology, and other issues in the past.

We must now respond once again. We must fundamentally and proactively reshape how we structure and operate our University for the realities of the new millennia, and do so boldly, decisively, and quickly. We have an opportunity to pivot the University in a way that sets the strategy of the University on the cutting edge for a dynamic future. In doing so, we can and must deliver on our foundational heritage and reclaim our position as a leader in higher education.