Jan. 25, 2012
During its meeting on Friday, Jan. 20, the Shawnee State University Board of Trustees endorsed a plan developed by Chancellor Jim Petro of the Ohio Board of Regents that ties funding received by SSU from the state to improved course completion, graduation rates, and service to the Appalachian region.
"We are proud of the efforts and accomplishments thus far of the administration, faculty, and staff of Shawnee State University in addressing student retention, course completion, and graduation rates," Dan Mooney, chairperson of the SSU Board of Trustees, said. "Further focus through the chancellor's plan will build upon these efforts. As a board, we endorse these efforts."
Development of a plan for the use of the Shawnee State Supplement was required as part of the state's budget bill passed in July. The supplement was established in 1986 upon Shawnee State University's creation, to support the university's unique mission to provide greater access to higher education for the citizens of the Appalachian region through open enrollment and low tuition.
The supplement has decreased over the years from more than $4 million to the current $2.4 million funding. Shawnee State and Central State are the only two universities in the state of Ohio who receive a special supplement based on their unique missions.
"Shawnee State University was created to put a college education within reach for the students of Appalachia – an area that has historically been underrepresented in higher education," Dr. Rita Rice Morris, SSU president, said. "More than 13,000 former students, most of whom are employed in Ohio, are now putting their degrees from Shawnee State University to work. Many of these graduates would not have been able to pursue a college education had Shawnee State University not been here."
Morris explained that carrying out its mission presents some challenges.
"Four out of every five of our students are first-generation college students," she explained. "Many of these students overcome academic, social, and economic challenges to succeed in college and reach graduation. Our efforts to help them succeed, including establishing a Student Success Center with tutoring and support services, have helped us maintain a retention rate that is typical among peer open-admission institutions."
The chancellor's plan, developed in consultation with Shawnee State University, is aimed at making further improvements in student retention and graduation rates at SSU by focusing efforts on the student population who are at the highest risk – first-time in college students who are underprepared for college-level coursework. Currently, about 44 percent of SSU's entering students require developmental coursework.
"We are working with the chancellor and his team and are pleased that many of the recommended strategies are already being implemented at Shawnee State," Morris said.
Some of the outlined strategies in the plan include developing a First Year Experience Program that combines the efforts of academics and student affairs at SSU to identify at-risk students and intervene. It also includes plans to strengthen partnerships with area high schools to help students at risk, strengthen partnerships with area businesses to expand internship programs, expand courses that allow for distance education options, and work with students and parents to develop paths for students to complete their degrees in a timely manner.
The plan will begin with first-time students entering Shawnee State University in fall 2013 and will include an implementation and an ongoing monitoring phase with reporting requirements to the Ohio Board of Regents.
"The chancellor has submitted the plan to the speaker of the House of Representatives, the president of the Senate, and the governor," Morris said. "We will solicit their feedback as we prepare to move forward on campus. We look forward to working with the chancellor and his team to continue to improve student success."
Also during the Friday, Jan. 20 SSU Board of Trustees meeting, the board approved a graduate workshop credit fee, revised personnel policies, a continuation of a licensed clinical counselor position in Student Affairs, and the addition of a residence life coordinator position to serve SSU's expanded residential housing population. The board also approved candidates for 2012 graduation ceremonies upon confirmation from the Office of the Registrar.