Dr. Dione D. Somerville began her second academic year as president on Monday, August 22 by highlighting Owens Community College’s achievements to faculty, staff and community guests, including Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner.
She also recognized this year’s Presidential Teaching Award recipient, nursing professor Julie Lohse, who also received the 2021 top teaching award in the college’s School of Nursing and Health Professions.
Lohse is entering her 24th academic year teaching as Owens, having begun her career in Fall 1998.
Other award finalists were Julie Chesser, professor, math; Cory Hoover, professor, English; and Kristin Price, professor, social and behavioral sciences.
Dr. Somerville highlighted enrollment, budget matters and partnerships, among other initiatives, as she spoke on the Findlay-area Campus in the morning and again on the Toledo-area Campus in the afternoon.
“My vision for Owens is our vision for Owens,” she said, referring to the college’s vision statement of being the area’s premier two-year college, a first choice for students seeking higher education and an indispensable partner for businesses, educational institutions and community organizations.
She shared about the implementation of the new Strategic Enrollment Management Plan and its importance considering the projected decline of high school graduates over the next decade. She said the balanced budget, adopted by the Board of Trustees, was built on areas of need with consideration for strategic initiatives, including the new Workday ERP software that will service the entire college.
Since taking over the Owens presidency in June 2021, Dr. Somerville has made it a priority to engage community leaders. More than two dozen community leaders attended Monday’s State of the College presentations.
Looking forward, she spoke about capital renovations and centralizing the college’s nursing and health profession programs on the east side of Oregon Road on the Toledo-area Campus. Construction on the former library building and Audio-Visual Classroom Center is anticipated to begin in 2023 with completion for Fall Semester 2024.
Also in 2023, the Findlay-area Campus will celebrate its 40th anniversary serving Findlay and the greater Hancock County area. Plans are underway to create a planning group for this milestone.
With the college’s current strategic plan expiring this year, Dr. Somerville said Owens plans to continue working with internal and external stakeholders on developing the new plan to ensure Owens maintains its position serving students and the region.
She held several listening sessions on the subject, both on campus and in the community, during the past academic year.