University Business - November 2008 - (Page 19)

viewpoint Journey to a world-class education system Restoring Ohio’s Heritage in Higher Education By Eric D. Fingerhut deals elsewhere—or gave up their college dreams entirely. This only increased competition among the state schools for scarce students and resources, inevitably leading to mediocrity, duplication, and waste. strickland was determined to break the cycle, and he found like-minded allies among the leaders of the ohio house and senate, who also recognized that the state’s future prosperity hinged upon raising the level of educational attainment of its working-age adults. in an unprecedented display of bipartisan consensus, the legislature unanimously approved strickland’s first budget, which called for a $533 million increase for higher education, enough to freeze tuition at state schools for the next two years. The General assembly also gave strickland direct control over higher education by making the chancellor, who previously served under the ohio Board of regents, a Cabinet-level appointee answerable to the governor. i was named to the position in March 2007. Freezing tuition was key to stopping the bleeding, but no one—not the governor, not the legislators, and certainly not i—thought for a moment that the problems confronting public higher education in ohio could be solved in one budget cycle. at best, we bought some time, time that i was expected to use to come up with a long-term strategy to revitalize higher education and make it an engine driving a robust economy. Eric D. Fingerhut is chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. November 2008 | 19 he erosion was so gradual that many of us failed to notice until great damage had already been done. ohio, with two of the first colleges west of the alleghenies established within six years of its birth in 1803, has long valued higher education, providing direct support to its public universities for more than 130 years and welcoming dozens of private institutions with a rich variety of religious and secular missions. at the dawn of the last century, ohio was the era’s silicon Valley, home to men like wilbur and orville wright, automotive inventors Charles F. Kettering and John h. Patterson, and innovative public works engineer arthur Morgan, visionaries whose genius led to the modern industries that fueled america’s—and most particularly ohio’s—prosperity. so what happened? as it stood at the doorway of a new century, silicon Valley moved to silicon Valley, and any edge ohio once enjoyed was long gone. heavy manufacturing, the cornerstone of the state’s economy for much of the 20th century, withered, and ohio had nothing to take its place. worse, it lacked the most basic of prerequisites needed to survive in today’s information-driven economy: a well-educated, trained workforce. when Gov. Ted strickland took office in 2007, he found himself presiding over a state ranking 38th in the percentage of working-age adults with a two-year college degree or higher. The problem this presents is obvious. Businesses today must compete in the global economy, T The chancellor became a Cabinet-level appointee answerable to the governor. which means they need workers with the education and training to compete on a global level. absent such a workforce, ohio’s economy will not grow. it is just that simple. New Support The finger clearly had to be pointed at the higher education system for such a dismal statistic, but there was plenty of blame to go around. Previous governors and General assemblies had grown fond of patching temporary budget problems by cutting higher education, and over the years this steady restriction in the flow of public dollars had resulted in tuitions so high at public colleges and universities that many ohio students found better

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - November 2008

University Business - November 2008
Editor's Note
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Behind the News
Sense of Place
Human Resources
Financial Aid
Money Matters
Community Colleges
Expansion, without the Red Tape
Coming to You by Video
Challenging Authority
Road Tour
What's New
End Note

University Business - November 2008