Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Gov. John Kasich, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee and other higher education officials met on Tuesday at the Statehouse to identify a solution to divide the education dollars for the next state budget.
In the conference, Kasich emphasized the importance of keeping costs down and helping Ohio’s economy grow by keeping college students on Ohio. But overall, Kasich wants to help more students graduate from college.
“We all know we can do better on graduation rates,” Kasich said.
Kasich said he believes that the new funding system should reward institutional graduation rates, instead of just enrollment figures. The new education budget is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving.
“There have been some movements in creating a new formula, and we hope to speed up the process so that we can begin to fund higher education on the basis of graduation, rather than on the basis on enrollment,” Kasich said.
Kasich asked Gee to help with this process and lead the effort, but quickly pointed out that this responsibility won’t fall solely on OSU.
“I’ve asked Dr. Gee again to kind of lead the effort, but this is not just going to be an Ohio State-centric process,” Kasich said. “I see higher education reform happening each and every single year, but I want them to do well. They are critical to the future economic development of our state.”
Gee said there was not much of a plan before this initiative.
“They really didn’t have one,” Gee said. “It was sort of a budget process, so this is the new plan.”
With this responsibility, Gee summarized what Kasich wanted from them as a group.
“Generally, this is a fairly strict command control system,” Gee said. “What the governor has done is he asked us to come up with ideas on how to improve the quality of the educational experience, how we can keep jobs in Ohio, how we can keep students in Ohio and how we can successfully build the economy grow from 11.6 million Ohioans to an even greater number.”
Gee said the new budget plan will have a positive impact for OSU and provide the university with stability for its students.
“Well, it’s about making sure we have the resources to support our students. Secondly, it’s about us being effective and efficient in what we are doing and thirdly, it’s about really for our university focusing on the quality of the undergraduate experience,” Gee said.
When Kasich asked Gee to help lead this cause, he also asked Gee why he would be willing to do this good, yet daunting task.
“I said, ‘Gordon, why are you doing this?’ He says, ‘Because I am 68 years old and I want to have a good legacy, and I think what we’re doing is right.'”
As Gee pointed out how this budget will benefit OSU, Kasich mentioned how this will help students now and in the future when they graduate.
“I hope it’s going to mean more counseling, perhaps online to make sure you’re headed in the right direction,” Kasich said. “I want students when entering (school) knowing that they’re going to be able to graduate on time, their classes are going to be available to them, that the cost is going to be under control as much as we can, and that when they get out they’re going to have a job.”
Graduating more students was the top priority for Kasich and the other university presidents from Ohio, but the next thing on the list was to keep cost of higher education affordable for all students.
“We have a commitment that we’re all going to plug away to get our costs under control, graduate more students and commercialize more products,” Kasich said.
The next thing on the agenda, which is a direct link to achieving higher education, is to continue the growth of Ohio’s economy.
“We know that we have a challenge in the country, with having people, having their skills match job opportunities, such as health care, engineering and the list just goes on,” Kasich said. “Their building to match these great skills of the people that teach at these institutions with the opportunities that are out there could transform our state. I would like to get ahead of other states.”
Kasich has given presidents of other universities, with Gee leading them, some room to work, and Gee and his colleagues are very appreciative for the opportunity.
“Governor, we are thrilled in the light that you have showed the faith and confidence in this group to deliver a formula that is representative to all four-year colleges and universities in Ohio,” said Ohio University President Roderick McDavis. “I think I can speak on behalf of my colleagues, universities and colleges at this table, that we’re committed to help the economic development in the state of Ohio because we believe in Ohio. We will deliver on this.”
Gee and Kasich, along with the other presidents, agree it is up to them to make these changes.
“What it really comes down to, we all are self-fortunate to help people see their future and God-given talents,” Kasich said. “To put it together and let people have the ability to achieve remarkable things, what a great opportunity for us. That’s the way I look at my job everyday, and I know that’s how these presidents look at their job as well.”