As Ohio’s public universities and colleges brace for the report on higher education to be released this summer, each one is doing everything possible not only to justify its existence but to make the case for increased state funding.
Youngstown State University, whose state designation as an open access institution means it serves a distinct population, is crucial to Ohio’s goal of increasing the number of college graduates.
Thus, decision-makers in Columbus, led by Dr. Gordon Gee, higher education consultant to Gov. John Kasich and former president of Ohio State University, and Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents John Carey must decide how YSU can be strengthened in order to continue its important mission.
YSU’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program is blazing a trail in Ohio and nationally, and in partnership with America Makes (formerly the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) is gaining a strong reputation in the higher education community for cutting-edge research.
The future of manufacturing in Ohio is inextricably tied to the work being done at YSU STEM and America Makes.
Most recently, the undergraduate engineering program within STEM was ranked in the top 25 percent of U.S. News and World Reports’ 2014 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs in the world.
But while the STEM story has received widespread publicity, another development at YSU is just as significant and exciting.
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION IS NO. 1
Recently, the board of regents released the Educator Preparation Performance Reports for all the approved educator programs in the state and standing alone at the very top is YSU’s Beeghly College of Education.
The top ranking is based on the fact that 100 percent of YSU teacher-education students who completed the educator programs between September 2012 and September 2013 passed the state licensure exams.
In addition, all 19 students who completed the principal preparation program passed their licensure exam.
The statewide pass rate for the teacher exam was 97 percent, while it was 95 percent for the principal exam.
Being the best in the state is no small feat, especially considering that Youngstown State is not one of the state’s top-tier institutions.
There’s only one way to read the results: Beeghly College of Education is doing an outstanding job of preparing students to be teachers and principals.
It is noteworthy that Youngstown State’s graduates did better than those coming out of Ohio’s flagship institution, Ohio State, and the other universities that have long parlayed their reputations into operating funds from the state.
MAKING YSU’S CASE
Therefore, YSU President Randy Dunn and the board of trustees can make the case that the college of education, along with the STEM College, the Dana School of Music and other programs all add up to an institution that is not only providing the opportunity for a college education to many students who are the first in their families to pursue education beyond high school, but is proving to be a strong participant in the state’s higher education profile.
It is encouraging that YSU stands to receive about $11 million from the state’s higher education capital budget if the General Assembly approves it.
The money would be used for maintenance and upgrade projects. Two years ago, YSU received $9.4 million.
It’s always dangerous to read too much into the allocation of state dollars, but given that the general higher education budget has been reduced since Gov. Kasich took office in January 2011, any increase is welcomed.