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The Future of Public Higher Education in Ohio

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On Friday, December 15th, we went to a program at the City Club titled "The Future of Public Higher Education in Ohio" which was in the form of a panel discussion in which the panelists were Dr. Ronald M. Berkman, the President of Cleveland State University (CSU); Dr. Alex Johnson, the President of Cuyahoga Community College; and Dr. Matthew Wilson, President and Professor of Law at the University of Akron. It was moderated by WKYC President and General Manager, Ms. Micki Byrnes.

Before lunch, we met and visited with Mr. Jay Musson, Trustee of the "R.C. Musson and Katherine M. Musson Charitable Foundation" in Akron and Ms. Kim McCarty, Associate Vice President for Business Development and Operations  at the "Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education". Ms. McCarty told us that Ms. Margaret W. Wong used to serve on its board. During lunch, we sat with Mr. Jason R. Drake, Director of Education and Workforce Development at the "Dan T. Moore Company" and had a discussion about that very topic along with former Ohio State Rep. Mike Dovilla.

As for the program itself, we asked a question during the Q and A regarding the impact foreign-born professors and students have made on higher education at campuses and in the region. All of the panelists took a turn answering it and amongst the responses that we got from Dr. Berkman and Dr. Johnson included the points that  internationals have indeed made a positive impact in terms of economic development and it would be very much in our interest to keep the costs of education from rising so that we can continue to successfully compete for these students especially in the areas of science and technology. Along these lines it was a shame that the atmosphere in the U.S. towards internationals is not as welcoming as it used to be. It was added that indeed it was a shame that in before-mentioned areas of science and techology, we have permitted the neglience of our U.S.-born kids in the public schools so we need to get back on track.

Dr. Wilson shared with us that his own experience of living abroad in countries like Japan enriched him deeply; so much so that he was motivated to establish the International Center at the University of Akron which currently employees several recruitors whose purpose is to engage talents from around the world. Dr. Wilson is at work on programs that will enable U.S. students to travel abroad and learn.

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In terms of the future of public higher education, we believe that the panelists were in accordance that it must become more career-focused and that there is a need for counseling to be available from the moment that the student steps on campus for orientation. Of course it was said that students do not necessarily have to have a four-year degree to be successful financially which is evidenced by the number of students (young people just out of high school and older, returning students as well as veterans) who have gotten good jobs due to the manufacturing and nursing programs offered by Cuyahoga Community College. But even here, Dr. Johnson, himself, acknowledged that such students might even more successful if they chose to pursue to four-year degree.

It was emphasized that even though the training for a career is very important if not vital to a favorable educational outcome; the importance of liberal arts and humanities should not be downplayed because they broaden a student and give them a solid foundation on which to build. Plus, one can never be positive that a particular job one has trained to do will even be in existence in the next few years since we are advancing so quickly. To go one step further, it seems that a job applicant can never be 100% sure about what professional or personal experience will aid her/him in the process.

Along these lines, Dr. Wilson mentioned that while in school he took a class (or classes) in meteorology because it helped him fulfill a breadth requirement. Later on he applied for a position along quite a few other people that he ultimately landed due to the knowledge that he acquired while studying meteorology.

This is very believable because, as liberal arts graduates going for an entry level position, we learned that it was not always the content of a long report that we typed that initially mattered; it was the fact that we actually typed the long report and thus built up our typing speed which enabled us to get our foot in the door and later put the content of the report to good use.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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