Fingerhut pitches plan to universities

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a four-day series examining Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s University System plan. See tomorrow’s Stater for a look at the political side of the new system and a timeline of notable events taking place during its formation.

Contributors to this article: Andrew Schiller, Kaitlyn Lionti, James Madalinsky, Lyndsay Petruny, Nedda Pourahmady, Anna Riggenbach, Ashley Whit

After traveling to at least eight colleges and universities, Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s message has remained constant.

Since Gov. Ted Strickland appointed him in March, Fingerhut has made efforts to strengthen public understanding of the University System of Ohio and the initial process of the 10-year plan. This system will allow college campuses across Ohio to work together in a collaborative, cooperative environment.

The system’s mission is to provide affordable, high-quality higher education opportunities for all Ohioans. Programs and curricula are designed to meet Ohioans’ needs for the 21st century, according to the University System Web site.

Throughout each visit, Fingerhut has stressed three main points he views as necessary to improve higher education throughout the state: increasing enrollment at all higher education facilities, unifying goals and strengths of each individual institution and establishing a long-term plan for strengthening Ohio’s higher education system.

During a speech at Ohio University, Fingerhut said that his report will “establish the metrics we will use to measure the goals and will identify the key strategies we will pursue in meeting these goals.”

Smaller universities, such as Central State, are looking forward to Fingerhut’s 10-year plan. Fran Robinson, public relations director at Central State, said the school hopes to be at the forefront of Fingerhut’s strategic plan for growing enrollment.

“We are very excited about the state’s involvement in our university,” she said.

The Dayton Daily News reported on Fingerhut’s visit to the University of Dayton. There, he said Ohio is operating under an outdated system that tries to offer everything to everybody.

“We need a new marketplace in which Ohio colleges operate and a new set of rules for how they operate,” he said.

His visit to Kent State on Tuesday followed suit with past speeches. Fingerhut stressed the same three points presented at other campuses and gave basic explanations of both the University System and the 10-year plan.

Since Kent State has the largest number of regional campuses in Ohio, Fingerhut said he wants the university to understand that the University System will not “take the Kent State flag away” from its regional campuses. Instead, it will help strengthen the state’s community colleges.

Fingerhut will continue speaking at universities and colleges around Ohio, promoting the University System and the 10-year plan. His next two stops will be at the University of Cincinnati and Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Fingerhut hopes to start progressing with the plan by March 31, 2008.