You represent the future of Ohio

Jackie Valley

Strickland: Higher education holds the key to improving Ohio’s economic future

Gov. Ted Strickland shakes hands and speaks with Jacob Roope, senior speech pathology major, while President Lester Lefton, left, and Trustee Dennis Eckart look on yesterday afternoon. While on campus, the govenor toured the 3-D Immersion classroom in Wil

Credit: DKS Editors


Gov. Ted Strickland asked students to “please make Ohio your home” by establishing careers and families in the state in an effort to build Ohio’s future.

“You represent the future of Ohio,” he said. “You are vital and necessary for our state to move forward.”

Speaking to more than 250 spectators in Risman Plaza yesterday afternoon, Strickland said there is an “unbreakable connection” between economic growth and creating a highly educated and skilled workforce in the state.

“Ohio cannot be a status quo state while the rest of the country and world move forward,” he said.

When he came into office, Strickland said Ohioans were “facing costs that were becoming intolerable” in higher education as costs remained 47 percent higher than the national average.

“We decided the state has a greater responsibility to invest in higher education,” he said.

As a result, Strickland said the new state budget calls for a two-year tuition freeze at public universities, and he is currently working with newly appointed Chancellor Eric Fingerhut to draft a plan for the new University System of Ohio.

In the wake of the tuition freeze, Strickland said the state found resources to help universities maintain their academic standards.

“We want quality of education as well as affordability,” he said.

Strickland said the goal of the changes to higher education is to make students’ experiences at college richer, while lowering their amount of post-graduation debt.

In addition, Strickland said the University System of Ohio will promote collaboration among public universities, community colleges and career centers in the state.

“That does not mean any individual institution will, in any way, be diminished,” he said.

Instead, Strickland said the new system will build on the strengths of each existing university.

“We hope the development will result in the recognition of the fact that we have centers of excellence,” he said, citing Kent State’s Liquid Crystals Institute as an example.

With the creation of centers of excellence, Strickland said expertise can be shared among schools across the state.

Although President Lester Lefton said “plans are still very embryonic” for the system, he said he thinks Strickland is “very earnest and excited about our future.”

Lefton said he has already met with Fingerhut to discuss how the system will benefit Kent State and the people of Ohio.

Katie Hale, executive director of the Undergraduate Student Senate, said despite initial hesitations about what Kent State may sacrifice due to the new system, looking at the bigger picture, she thinks the change is positive.

“I think that making a dramatic move like this is going to be the key to improving not only higher education in the state, but also the economy,” she said.

Prior to the press conference, Strickland toured the 3-D immersive technology classroom in Williams Hall, which featured examples of Kent State’s recent technology advances and research laboratories.

During his speech, Strickland also said he is proud of Ohio’s history and diversity, and he consequently said he refuses to believe critics who doubt Ohio’s future potential.

“They are not only wrong,” he said. “They are damn wrong.”

Strickland said Ohioans are “not people who shrink from challenge” because the DNA of the Buckeye means accomplishing what needs to be done to succeed.

“The status quo is over,” he said. “We are moving forward.”

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].