Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Conceal-carry Exception for College Campuses Not at Risk

Earlier this month Sen. Keith Faber (R - Celina) introduced Senate Bill 318 before the Criminal Justice Committee. The bill is part of a series of efforts to “restore the proper recognition of the rights of Ohio’s citizens.” Faber’s bill had been described as a “firearms modernization” package due to the number of corrections it contains to some of the more technical areas of the Ohio Revised Code. Current law permitting licensed individuals to carry firearms in a concealed manner contains an exception for higher education institutions. Faber’s bill, as introduced, would eliminate that exception.

The bill was scheduled for its second hearing this morning until Chairman Tim Grendell (R – Chesterland) pulled it from the agenda saying, “Much more work needs to be done before we proceed further on this issue.” After a conversation with Senate staff, we learned that the higher education language in the Faber bill will be eliminated. AICUO was a moving force behind the creation of the higher education exception and continues to back the exemption.

—Dustin Holfinger

Monday, April 28, 2008

AICUO Student Lobby Day Draws Largest Number of Registrants in History of Event

April 23rd was a busy day around the Statehouse in Columbus. Senate Bill 221, the Energy Reform Bill, was voted out of the Senate, the House opened session with a gospel version of God Bless America, and 63 independent college students helped to raise awareness of the 52 AICUO member campuses. Sixteen campuses sent student representatives to the 2008 Student Lobby Day this year for an opportunity to meet with legislators and staff to discuss the importance of Ohio’s independent colleges and universities. The students attended scheduled meetings with their home and school representatives to better ensure that their voice is heard.

During lunch, the students heard from a panel of current and former Legislative Service Commission (LSC) interns who attended an Ohio independent college. The panelists gave their personal accounts of how their connections through the LSC internship, in school and through friends, family and local community leaders assisted them in following their career paths. In addition, the panelists were available for Q&A after the luncheon to discuss issues on a more personal basis with the students.

AICUO would like to thank all of the student advocates who took the time to travel to Columbus for the day and lobby on behalf of their independent institutions, the panelists, the state senators and representatives and their staff that met with the students.

Dustin A. Holfinger

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Georgia Wall Named First Grand Award Winner for the AICUO Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts (EVAs)

On Monday night, Oberlin College student Georgia Wall became the first student to win the EVA grand award. Ms. Wall, pictured at right with the award, received the grand award when it was announced on April 21 at a reception at Ohio Dominican University. Her work is primarily performance and installation art.

The awards for Excellence in the Visual Arts, or EVAs, are the nation’s first on-line college art awards. Ohio independent college seniors were nominated by the chair of their art department. Students presented their work on-line and included explanations and a short video for judgment by academic and artistic panels. All of the entrants, including this year’s winners, can be viewed on the awards Web site,

Following her nomination by the college, Ms. Wall was one of six students to win an EVA, chosen by a select panel of Ohio college art professors. The six award winners—Ms. Wall, Andreas Baumgartner of Bluffton University, Kristen Gillman of Ohio Dominican University, Heather Lynn Kyle and Kyle McMahon of Columbus College of Art & Design, and Mad Mohre of Denison University—were then evaluated by a select panel that included Ohio artists, an art journalist, the chair of the Ohio Arts Council, and State Treasurer Richard Cordray.

In addition to the Grand Award, Ms. Wall also received a $2,500 cash award. Fellow award winner Mad Mohre went home with two awards—both an EVA and the inaugural People’s Choice award, the larger of the two awards shown in her picture at right.

The EVAs evolved from the absence of art; AICUO’s offices were new last spring, and we wanted to display the variety of artistic expression that can be found on the majority of our member campuses. We also realized that presenting the wide variety of artistic expression at our campuses would help the public learn more about the colleges themselves. What started as an idea for an art show became this first of a kind competition. We have received overwhelming positive feedback on the awards, and look forward to their return next year. We will be improving the Web site, allowing everyone, instead of just our judges, to view the art in a larger size.

For the uninitiated, the videos are an easy way to enjoy the EVAs. The most popular videos have been Georgia Wall’s silent piece, Mad Mohre’s puppet show, and the creative destruction of Heather Lynn Kyle. You can view them all at

—C. Todd Jones

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Legislative Update - Week of April 14th

HB 381, Ohio Research Scholars Appropriation Bill

The Senate Finance Committee had no witnesses signed in to testify on Tuesday afternoon on HB 381, a bill to legislatively permit Ohio’s independent colleges to participate in the Ohio Research Scholars Program.

The program, a joint effort between OBR and the Dept. of Development, intends to attract and retain scientists from outside of Ohio and allure current college students to become future scientists in the state. Colleges can compete for grants to build new and/or develop programs within the STEM fields. Each school may receive up to $50 million. More information and a list of important dates may be found

The bill was voted out of committee unanimously and will be sent to the Senate floor for full consideration within the next two weeks.

HB 536, Healthy Families Act

The Ohioans for Healthy Families Coalition, comprised of over 200 groups including AARP, Nurses Association, NAACP, and metropolitan area city councils from across the state got the hearing they requested, though they weren’t informed of the hearing until 24 hours prior. With little notice, the room was filled, the witnesses were prepped and committee members were ready to listen and had questions drafted.

First to testify were the proponents. Brian Dunn, campaign manager for the Coalition, explained to committee members the ramifications of not passing this initiative. His
testimony included reference to the Harvard Business Review analysis that "offering paid sick days would save costs incurred when ill employees go to work.” He also ensured that “mom and pop shops” would not be adversely affected by this proposal, and it wouldn’t burden companies that currently offer equivalent paid sick days to employees. In addition, he noted that new employees hired within a 90-day start would not be eligible for the paid days off.

Fred Mills representing the Ohioans to Protect Jobs coalition, including such groups as the Ohio Retail Merchants, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and National Federation of Independent Business, offered their opposition. He noted in his
testimony that costs incurred from passing the proposal will drive out employers from the state, leaving Ohio with more unemployment and blight. Mr. Mills also stated that the initiative will stifle job creation and expansion, noting that small businesses that are currently unaffected will be when they grow larger than 25 employees. In addition, the opponents declared that litigation is a likely possibility if enacted, and “litigation does not create jobs – except for lawyers.”

Because the initiative has become a very partisan issue, it will not likely receive another hearing, which would push the proponents to begin collecting a new set of petition signatures. If the General Assembly does not enact the initiative by the listed deadline of May 9th, the Ohioans for Healthy Families must obtain another 120,683 signatures to place it on the ballot.

AICUO will continue to monitor its movement or lack thereof. We will also be in contact with our members to receive thoughts for level of participation by our association.

HB 347, Praxis III Bill Revisited

Tuesday, the House Education Committee accepted a sub bill version of HB 347 introduced by Chairwoman Arlene Setzer (R – Vandalia) last October. The initially introduced version seeks to replace Praxis III, the assessment test used to award professional, 5-year teaching licenses to entry-year teachers with a “summative assessment” whose content is yet to be determined. The new assessment could be more or less complicated and burdensome than Praxis III. The bill’s interested parties have met only a handful of times to discuss other mechanisms for licensure revisions.

The adopted substitute pushes back the effective date for the elimination of Praxis III from July 2008 to July 2010. On or after that date, eligibility for a professional license must be based on a teacher's rating on the "summative assessment" approved by the State Board of Education and included as part of the teacher's "induction program." The summative assessment must require demonstrated relevance to the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession (OSTP).

The substitute requires the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to convene a committee of staff persons, educators, administrators and others with an interest in educator preparation to develop standards for an induction program. The requirements include mentoring, multiple formative assessments by more than one individual, use of OSTP and the application of the state academic content standards as performance measures, among other things. Any summative assessment after July 2010 must be approved by the State Board of Education.

Full implementation would begin with the 2010-2011 school years. ODE, during the 2009-2010 school year, would be required to select a sample of schools or districts to implement all components of the standardized induction program on a trial basis. The substitute also adds a new provision requiring ODE to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of induction programs and permits the department to contract with an independent entity to conduct the evaluations.

Additionally, the substitute version requires the department, in collaboration with the Chancellor of the Board of Regents, to convene a committee representing public and private teacher preparation programs and practicing teachers from all grade levels to develop a pre-service assessment system with standardized protocols and training for pre-service coursework and field experience.

HB 350, Student Poll Worker Bill in Senate Committee

The legislation that would permit college students to work as poll workers in the counties in which they attend school received its sponsor testimony in the Senate State and Local Government and Veteran’s Affairs Committee.
Rep. Larry Wolpert stated within his testimony that the legislation will help to combat a decrease in available poll workers on election days. In addition, it will help get the younger generation involved in civic policy.

The bill is expected to receive another hearing within the next couple of weeks.

Dustin A. Holfinger

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lt. Gov. Fisher Urges Independent Colleges to Establish Economic Development Focus

Economic development is such a key issue for the state of Ohio that colleges and universities should designate a senior official with responsibility in that area.

That was the message given by Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher to the AICUO-OFIC luncheon held Wednesday in Columbus.

“If you don’t have someone with those words—economic development—in the job title, you should,” he emphasized.

Concomitant with being lieutenant governor, Fisher serves in the cabinet post of Director of Development, currently the only person in the country holding these two specific offices. His predecessor, Bruce Johnson, also held both offices, and Fisher said other lieutenant governors have additional responsibilities beyond their elected office but that his combination of positions is unique.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fisher was introduced by Oberlin Provost Alfred MacKay, the brother of former Florida Lieutenant Governor and Member of Congress Kenneth “Buddy” MacKay. Fisher, who also has a law and a graduate degree from Case Western Reserve University, noted that he, Governor Ted Strickland and Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut all are graduates of independent colleges.

Bob Burke

Monday, April 7, 2008

Strategic Plan Roundup II

Since the release of the Chancellor’s Strategic Plan for the University System of Ohio, and our strategic plan roundup, news articles have slowed to a trickle:
As might be expected, the editorial reactions were published in the days following the plan, but were thinner in number than news pieces following the Dispatch editorial that we noted in our first roundup:
  • Last Tuesday, the Akron Beacon-Journal called the plan “ambitious” but not “breathtaking.” The next day, ABJ editorial writer Steve Hoffman called the plan “a big win for those who believe the first priority should be to prime the economic pump with highly educated workers and cutting-edge research labs.”
  • On Thursday, the Newark Advocate, hometown paper of Ohio Board of Regents (OBR) Chairwoman Donna Alvarado, became the sole paper that we have seen editorialize on the strategic plan’s companion report from OBR on the condition of Ohio higher education. The piece was repeated today in the Mansfield News Journal.
  • Yesterday, the Hamilton Journal-News editorial board said that it looks forward to discussing the issues raised in the report.
  • The News-Herald also editorialized on Sunday by supporting the plan, particularly its focus on adult learners.
— C. Todd Jones

A Last Roundup of Winter Sports Results

Baseballs, softballs, and golf balls—among other things—are already in the hands of the athletes at AICUO member institutions, but there’s one last roundup of postseason tournament results before we close the books on the winter sports season.

Kenyon Men Are National Swim Champs—Again
Kenyon won its 29th consecutive NCAA men's swimming championship March 22 in Oxford, Ohio, and senior Josh Mitchell was named Swimmer of the Year.

Ohio Northern Hosts NCAA Division III Track & Field
On March 14 and 15, Ohio Northern hosted the NCAA Division III track and field championships, and finished 12th in the overall standings in the men's meet. Also with teams in the meet were Heidelberg and Defiance, which tied for 25th place; Mount Union, which tied for 46th; and Wilmington, which tied for 56th.

In the women's meet, Heidelberg's team finished tied for 15th position, followed among our members by Otterbein (tied for 25th), Case Western Reserve (tied for 38th), and Capital (tied for 51st).

Basketball: Xavier men bow out one step before Final Four; women lose first round squeaker.
Xavier’s men went all the way to the West Regional final in the Division I basketball tournament, where they lost 76-57 to UCLA, March 29 in Phoenix. Third seeded in the region, Xavier finished 30-7, the school’s best record ever.

A rally by Xavier’s women fell short and they lost 61-58 to Nebraska in the first round of the women’s tournament, March 23 in College Park, Md.

Other late season hoops news:

Dayton lost to Ohio State 74-63 in the quarterfinal round of the men’s National Invitation Tournament, March 26 at Columbus.

NAIA Track & Field
Malone's men's team finished 11th in a 48-team field at the NAIA indoor meet March 7-8 in Johnson City, Tenn. Malone's women finished 28th among 42 teams competing at the meet, while Notre Dame placed 37th.

Ohio Dominican requests transfer from NAIA to NCAA
Last week, Ohio Dominican formally applied to become a member of the NCAA’s Division II, where colleges and universities offer a limited number of athletic scholarships but not at the scale of Division I. If approved, ODU would leave the NAIA’s Division II and most likely join the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a sprawling three-state league with members ranging from Erie, Pa., to Marquette and Houghton in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Ohio members of GLIAC are Ashland, Findlay, and Tiffin.

--Bob Burke

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Economic Stimulus Package Unveiled

This morning, AICUO and roughly 60 other stakeholder representatives were invited to attend an informational session at the governor’s Cabinet Room in his Statehouse office. The meeting was led by the governor’s policy director, Janetta King, and the House of Representatives’ budget director, Ray DiRossi, with special appearances by the Governor and Lt. Governor.

The news was significant. Just today, the Governor, Speaker, and the Senate President announced an agreement on the Governor’s Building Ohio Jobs Bond Initiative. As outlined in February’s State of the State address, Governor Strickland’s original proposal called for a $1.7 billion bond package to assist Ohio create at least 80,000 new jobs in five years. The legislative leadership balked at this initial number, and expressed concern that the bonds would inappropriately burden the state with further debt. After voicing their opposition, talks began to find a compromise the “big three” could agree on.

What resulted from the talks was a plan to borrow only $400 million and rely on other funding sources, including future general-revenue fund transfers, Ohio Turnpike excess revenue, and Ohio Tobacco Prevention funds. While the initial proposal was intended to be on the November ballot, the new plan will only “ballotize” the $400 million Clean Ohio programs. The rest will be appropriated by the legislature.

Over the next few weeks or months, legislative action will set guidelines for distribution. Higher education institutions are able to apply for all areas within the program, but there is a specific carve-out for colleges and universities under the Higher Education Workforce Development Initiative. This program offers $50 million per year over five years to retain college-educated citizens by “linking them with good internships, cooperative education programs, and jobs while they earn their degrees.” This initiative is a match-proposal, calling for the private sector stakeholders to invest in their future employment.

Additional information is available from
today's Columbus Dispatch.

- Dustin A. Holfinger

Student Poll Worker Bill Passes House Floor

Today, the House of Representatives unanimously (94-0) passed the Student Poll Worker Bill (HB 350), sponsored by Rep. Larry Wolpert (R - Hilliard). The bill would allow up to two high school students to work as poll workers in their hometown. It would also permit college students to work in the precinct in which they attend school. Current law allows students to work as election officials only in the precinct where they are registered. The bill was previously voted out of the House State Government Committee unanimously. It is expected to be referred to the Senate for consideration within the next week.

- Dustin A. Holfinger

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Strategic Plan Roundup

Yesterday, Chancellor Eric Fingerhut released "The Strategic Plan for Higher Education: 2008-2017." Also released yesterday from the Ohio Board of Regents was the "Report on the Condition of Higher Education in Ohio: Meeting the State’s Future Needs." The plan offered more than simply plans for the public system, however, with a significant section on independent colleges as well. Independent colleges certainly appreciated the chancellor's recognition of the role of independent colleges, and look forward to working with him on the state's efforts to utilize all of the state's higher education infrastructure.

The report received widespread play in our state's newspapers and other media. Here's a roundup:

Janet Okoben reviewed the plan in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, emphasizing that the purpose of the plan is to build a system, drive down costs and encourage more Ohioans to pursue college degrees.

Encarnacion Pyle and Jennifer Smith Richards had a lengthy piece in The Columbus Dispatch that noted the chancellor’s plans “wants to force tuition down, bring college closer to students, trim duplicate programs and make sure good jobs – and qualified workers – exist to keep graduates and employers in the state.” The editorial board focused on the state’s kickoff this summer of a pilot program that will allow students to obtain certifications that will count toward a college degree, making the prospect of attaining a college degree much less daunting.

Other articles from Ohio newspapers covering the plan’s release:

The Enquirer
The Toledo Blade
The Dayton Daily News

Stacey Dorr