Critical challenges and opportunities

01/24/2013

This message by Dr. Proenza was sent to campus on Jan. 24, 2013.

As we launch, Colleagues . . .

. . . the budget planning process for the next fiscal year (FY14), I invite your full engagement in the process so that we can rise to meet the challenges before us.

This is a critical time in the history of higher education. The ground that traditionally supported higher education is shifting beneath our feet—shifting at the fault line intersection of growing economic pressures and new technologies. We must respond urgently and strategically to these challenges:

  • We have endured two years of state funding cuts and there is no relief or reversal in sight.
  • Proposed state funding formulas are designed to reward universities with higher retention and graduation rates, even as some of today’s high school graduates appear less prepared for entry-level courses.
  • Population studies forecast a significant decline in high school graduates in Ohio, our traditional primary market for student enrollment growth.
  • National trends suggest that enrollment of older adults will grow at double the rate of traditional-aged collegians—and they will want courses available to them at non-traditional hours and responsive to their different learning styles.
  • The rapid growth of new technologies in online education offers tremendous opportunity for expanding our reach, while redefining the professor/student relationship in ways that will offer new, positive opportunities for our faculty (see the article titled “Learning from MOOCs” just posted under Recent News on our Revolution in Learning web page)

While our strategic plan – Vision 2020 – provides a roadmap for responding to these transformative forces, an intensive and critical review of higher education itself must inform the budget planning process. Thus, as each of us considers our role and responsibility in the continued success of our University, we seek your innovative, practical, and courageous ideas to help meet these challenges.

The budget process for FY2014 provides yet another opportunity to engage the entire campus community in productive conversation and strategic action. Together, we now must find and commit the resources to be successful—and that means greater direct involvement from each and every one of us in the successful recruitment and retention of our students.

Thank you for all you do and, most importantly, for the willingness to participate in shaping our future success.