State focuses on improving education

Rachel Abbey

While the third week of classes may send students to the books, the state is doing some studying of its own.

The state government has taken a strong interest in higher education this year, as numerous commissions and committees have been meeting about once a month to discuss issues related to higher education.

“I think there’s just a greater understanding today of the importance of higher education on the future of Ohio,” said David Creamer, vice president for administration.

Strengthening the economy

The Economic Growth Challenge Planning Committee is looking at ways to reallocate doctorate funding to increase research and innovation, creating more jobs, Creamer said. He is a member of the committee.

“We know higher learning leads to higher earning,” Gov. Bob Taft said in his State of the State Address Wednesday.

The Business Alliance for Higher Education is a group of business leaders looking at the need for higher education from a business and economic viewpoint, said Pat Myers, director for government relations. They want more graduates, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Integrating education

One of the main themes at the state level surrounding higher education is contributing to economic development, President Carol Cartwright said. To prepare students for science and math fields, the state is looking at increasing those areas in the elementary, junior high and high school levels as well.

The Partnership for Continued Learning is doing just that. The committee wants to make education a seamless process from preschool through higher education, Myers said.

Finding the money

The Higher Education Funding Study Council will recommend how to distribute funds allocated for higher education to the state government, Myers said. The council is currently conducting studies and holding discussions.

Last year’s budget bill required three studies to be held concerning how to distribute funding according to the state share of instruction formula, Creamer said. The studies are looking at ways to encourage administrative efficiency, to provide incentives for two-year universities and to reward graduates. Funding is currently based on enrollment rates, rather than graduation rates.

The State Share of Instruction committee is working with the house bill studies, which must submit their findings to the Higher Education Funding Study Council, and the committee probably will present its findings as well, Myers said.

Other state committees are working alongside the groups to improve higher education in Ohio and its funding.

“Knitting it all together is extremely important,” Cartwright said. “You want to make sure everything is complementary.”

Both Creamer and Cartwright mentioned the importance of universities continuing these discussions on their own. State funding is not a guarantee, Creamer said.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected]