By Denise Dick
Higher education in Ohio today is what the smokestack industry was to the state 50 years ago, says the former president of Ohio State University.
But it needs improvement to bolster quality, availability and affordability.
E. Gordon Gee has been tapped by Gov. John Kasich to lead, along with the Ohio Chancellor John Carey, a Quality and Value Initiative. The two are leading forums across Ohio, gathering input from educators, students and others that will be compiled into recommendations this summer.
Although Carey expects those recommendations to include suggestions for implementing distance learning and online education, the contents of the report will be determined by the information gathered.
Some may require legislative action.
Gee’s latest assignment from the governor comes after he led an effort to devise the funding formulas for higher education capital projects and the funding formula distribution for those institutions.
“Now we have the third leg, which is how do we improve it so the middle class is not squeezed,” Gee said via telephone Thursday in a meeting with Vindicator editorial board and a reporter.
The distribution formula bases 50 percent of a university’s funding on graduation, a departure from the old system that based funding on enrollment.
Carey said that higher education is being redefined in the state, and he pointed to similar statements from Youngstown State University President Randy J. Dunn at his installation earlier this month.
Four-year public institutions’ role may be the same as four-year private colleges and universities. Community colleges may have a different role too.
“I think you’re going to see career-technical schools taking a bigger role,” Carey said.
Gee said that higher education and kindergarten through 12th-grade education need to work together in Ohio as well.
“It has to be a hand-in-hand relationship,” he said.
Ideas for the Quality and Value Initiative led by Gee and Carey may be submitted through the Ohio Board of Regents website at ohiohighered.org/Q-V-form.