University System to unite Ohio’s public colleges

Christina Stavale

A detailed plan is still in the works, but Kent State is now united with Ohio’s other public universities and community colleges under the University System of Ohio.

Gov. Ted Strickland announced this collaboration Aug. 1, and Keith Dailey, Strickland’s spokesman, said this represents not a change in the governing systems of universities, but “the way we think and talk about higher education.”

“It’s a fairly simple concept,” he said, “and it’s based on the idea that the sum total of the collective public higher education institutions in Ohio are much greater, and hold much more potential, than one institute individually.”

In the Aug. 1 press conference, Strickland emphasized the importance of universities working together.

“We must understand that it’s collaboration – not competition – that will lead us where we want to go,” Strickland said. “No single institution in this state can provide what we need to compete in the 21st century.”

David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, said this new system may be a prelude to a number of other things.

“For Kent State, it means probably some change,” he said. “What that change is going to be is less clear right now.”

Eric Fingerhut, the chancellor of higher education, will begin putting together a 10-year plan for the program after meetings with university presidents, which will be taking place in the next few months.

Dailey said some aspects of the program may include the following things:

n Creating centers of excellence, which would highlight a university’s core strengths and regional economic need.

n Allowing universities to share resources.

n Making transferring credits from one university to another easier.

“This can mean a variety of things, from improving bulk purchasing to sharing research resources, such as equipment, to make it easier for students at various institutions to access the resources at other institutions,” Dailey said.

Contact principal reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].

Strickland’s four goals for the University System

• Ensuring that the increased state aid for higher education, including the two-year tuition freeze, increases universities’ quality, productivity and affordability.

• Having colleges work together in ways to create sums worth more than the individual institutions themselves.

• Managing the state’s higher education resources to create this system, and ensuring all Ohioans can get an affordable, quality education.

• Developing a 10-year plan that provides a timeline and clear goals for higher education.