PDT Staff Writer
In her weekly Friday Letter, Shawnee State University (SSU) President Dr. Rita Rice Morris expressed concerns over a new proposed funding formula by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“Today (Friday), the Governor announced a proposed new funding formula for higher education that puts greater emphasis on degree and course completion in efforts to increase the number of college graduates in the state, decrease the time it takes to graduate, and make Ohio a leader in higher education in the United States,” Morris said.
“We (SSU) support greater emphasis on degree attainment – and have taken several steps as an institution to help our most at-risk students. In our continuing conversations, we still need to work on access to ensure that the needs of all students in Ohio are served. Shawnee State University was created to provide open access to higher education for all in the region — and we are committed to that mission and our open admissions, but it presents challenges in improving graduation rates. We anticipate that the new formula will result in substantial cuts in funding in the second year of the biennium. The total impact to us is still unclear, however, because of factors yet to be determined in the formula and possible changes in the supplement that we receive from the state in order to fulfill our unique mission of open access to students. It has been an ongoing goal of legislators to reduce our reliance on the state supplement, so critical conversations are taking place - and will continue to take place - as we examine the impact of the formula.”
She said the proposed funding formula was developed in collaboration with the university presidents across Ohio, including Shawnee State.
“In addition to increasing the amount of funding that’s based on graduation, other proposed changes in higher education funding in the next biennium include the inclusion of associate degrees in the funding formula for all main and regional campuses; elimination of a separate regional campus funding formula in the second year of the biennium; weights for STEM degrees in the degree completion portion of the formula; and a revised weighting system for at-risk students in the second year of the biennium,” Morris said.
“The inclusion of associate degrees is particularly important to Shawnee State. About half of our graduating class each year earns associate degrees in a variety of fields. In the past ten years, 2200 students earned associate degrees from SSU and have used those degrees to make a difference in our communities. These students were not included in the traditional calculation for our graduation rate.”
Morris said with the announcement of the proposed funding formula, it’s too early to know what the full impact on SSU will be.
“We will continue to work with our sister institutions in the IUC (Inter-University Council of Ohio) and the Governor’s office to strengthen higher education and the opportunities it provides for our students and communities throughout Ohio,” Morris said.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.