Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Strickland Gives Third State of the State

In today’s State of the State address, made this afternoon to a joint House/Senate session in snow-bound Columbus, Governor Ted Strickland proposed continuing tuition freezes at public colleges and universities as his principal higher education initiative for the next two fiscal years.

Without specifying any way to pay for it, he plans to extend the tuition freeze to an additional year for all main, 4-year campuses and cap the tuition increase for 2010 to 3.5%. As for community colleges, they will have two more years of frozen tuition costs. There was no specific mention of Ohio's independent colleges, but this is not an instance where 'no news is good news.' Different proposed funding formulas and/or funding cuts are expected for our institutions as well.

Surely with the economic times the nation is facing, Governor Strickland and the legislature will have their hands full during this budget season.

During his address, Mr. Strickland also stated that his budget proposal will "focus on programs that are most vital to Ohio's future." First in this list of vital programs is education. Most of the governor's address focused on K-12 proposals, including all-day kindergarten, adding twenty school days to the school year, and expanding learning through tutoring and wellness programs. He also is proposing to replace the Ohio Graduation test (OGT) with the "ACT Plus," a four-part assessment including: ACT entrance exam, end of course exams, completion of a service learning project, and submission of a senior project. The ACT will be provided to all students at no cost, to encourage higher education opportunities.

A new "Teach Ohio" program was proposed by the governor as well, saying it would increase in-classroom methodology by establishing an alternative licensure program for professionals with the subject knowledge but lack of instruction background. This program will also empower the school board to dismiss teachers for "good cause," and additionally, strengthen the licensing of school principals. Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, under this plan, would be empowered to redesign college education programs to meet the needs and standards of Ohio's primary and secondary schools. AICUO will plan to work with the chancellor to ensure our teacher-education institutions are in-line with these needs and standards.

The governor also called for all Ohioans and Ohio state agencies to endure a "financial sacrifice." This sacrifice for agencies will most likely come through a planned 10-20% cut in funding and salary freezes for all or most employees.

Finally, the governor is planning to expand the Third Frontier Program through a new Ohio Jobs Stimulus Package. Funds for this expansion are expected to come from President Obama's new federal economic stimulus plan.

The final budget projection model is expected to be released early next week and introduced to the House shortly thereafter. AICUO will continue to meet with legislators and advocate for Ohio's independent colleges' spot at the policy table.

A copy of the transcript can be found here.

- Dustin A. Holfinger

Friday, January 23, 2009

Seminar on Higher Education Act Draws From Independent, Public Campuses

AICUO President Todd Jones led a morning-long seminar on the recently reauthorized federal Higher Education Act Wednesday morning at Franklin University in Columbus. Nearly 100 representatives from 34 Ohio campuses, including two from the public sector, attended.

The program used much of the material developed by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio for its HEA 101 program. Todd, a former deputy assistant secretary of education, added his own interpretations and predictions from his years of experience in and around the Congress and federal government.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the changes in federal higher education policy -- and all the new expectations placed on our sector by the new law -- visit NAICU’s HEA 101 website, or send an e-mail to In addition, if there's enough interest we will hold another seminar -- contact us at "ask Todd" if you're interested.

-- Bob Burke

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Three Ohio Institutions Make Peace Corps' Top Ranking

The Peace Corps has announced their top colleges and universities included in their annual list of "Peace Corps Top Colleges and Universities" for 2009. Three Ohio institutions made the list this year, including the University of Dayton, Denison University, and Oberlin College.

The University of Dayton was listed within the medium-sized schools list while the others were ranked as small institutions. Schools are ranked according to the size of the student body. Small schools are those with less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-sized schools have between 5,001 and 15,000 undergraduates, and large schools more than 15,000 undergraduates. To view the entire "Peace Corps Top Colleges and Universities" list for 2009, click here.

AICUO is very proud of the philanthropic nature of our institutions and wish all participating students success in their ventures.

- Dustin A. Holfinger

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Freshman Congressional Members Receive Committee Assignments

Yesterday the freshman members of Congress were sworn into their new positions. With this comes committee assignments which can be launching pads for their long-term careers.

• Marcia Fudge, (D - Warrensville Heights): Education and Labor Committee. Fudge had hoped to get on the Financial Services Committee, but AICUO sees the benefits of having an Ohioan on Ed and Labor Committee once again.

• John Boccieri, (D - Alliance): Transportation and Infrastructure. Steve LaTourette, Republican of Bainbridge Township, is already a senior member.

• Mary Jo Kilroy, (D - Columbus): and Steve Driehaus, (D - Cincinnati) both wound up on Financial Services.

Other Ohioans on Financial Services are Steve LaTourette and Charlie Wilson, a Democrat from Bridgeport.

Republican leaders have not announced their freshman committee assignments, until then, Freshman Caucus President, Steve Austria's (R - Beavercreek) assignments are unknown.

- Dustin A. Holfinger