PIQUA — With a focused and thorough presentation, Edison State Community College’s first-ever State of the College encompassed the Edison experience for students, employers, and the community as a whole.
Dr. Doreen Larson, president of Edison, spoke at the State of the College address on Wednesday morning at the Piqua campus. She started with a shout-out to Gov. John Kasich, who said, “Community colleges rock” in his recent State of the State address.
“We do indeed,” Larson said.
With jobs being one of the primary focuses and end goals of education, Larson started off by describing her job at Edison.
“Face, focus, and funding,” Larson said. She described her role as first being the face of the college to the community, in the world of academia, to partners of Edison, to potential funding sources, and more.
“My job is to focus our college on what we can do well,” Larson said.
She has to focus on Edison’s goals for their students, their college, and their role in the community as well as aligning those goals with the resources they have available to make those goals happen. Larson added that focus was so that they would not become “scattered.”
“I focus on funding,” Larson said. She explained that, of Edison’s $17 million budget, half of that budget is from the state’s subsidy of the college and the other half is made up of tuition fees and some grant funding. Larson said that part of her job is securing the funding and resources so Edison can continue to grow and serve its students.
“We use our funding extraordinarily well,” Larson said. “We are good stewards of our funding.”
As a college, Larson said, “We are focused on our mission statement,” which is, “Edison State Community College provides the learning opportunities, support services, and commitment that enable students to complete their educational goals and realize their dreams.”
“Education is the pathway to realizing your dreams,” Larson said.
Edison’s vision statement then guides the college on where they are headed, which is, “Edison State Community College will be the region’s premier resource for higher education by employing our core values, commitment to student success, strategic initiatives, and community collaboration.”
Next, Larson answered the question of what makes Edison unique by first saying, “Always our students.”
With nearly 4,500 people enrolled, Edison boasts a variety of students, from high school teens to senior citizens along with high school graduates and other adults who possibly were not able to finish high school. Edison also has international students, students who are seeking a one-term certificate, and students looking to complete their first two years of college education before transferring to a four-year school.
Edison is also among the top 25 percent nationally in graduation rates for full-time and part-time students, in the success and completion of transferring students to other schools, in the semester-to-semester persistence of full-time and part-time students, and in the overall course completion. Larson said that 86 percent of Edison students graduate with jobs associated with their fields of study.
Larson then mentioned the programs available at Edison, including the recent additions of the agriculture program at their Darke County campus in Greenville and their Edison State Works program.
Larson said that the agriculture program has been successful and exciting for students. It features courses specifically connected to agriculture along with business components, such as developing communication and marketing skills.
The Edison State Works program is a workforce development and education initiative intended to connect Edison State students and staff, regional employers, and communities with an opportunity for growth.
“We were intentional with the name Edison State Works,” Larson said. “It’s work, and that’s why it’s valuable.”
With goals for the college, Edison aims to use their funding and resources well along with continuing to change as technology and jobs continue to do so.
“We understand that we need to always be focused on our students,” Larson said. “Affordability is key to us. Accessibility is key to us.”
Larson also noted during her address that the cost of attending Edison is below the average cost for one year, with the cost to attend Edison being approximately $5,000 for a full-time student including tuition fees and books.
“Workforce is park of everything we do,” Larson said.
Connecting that comment with where Edison is going, Larson said that they plan to leverage the applied technical studies degree, which connects learning to technical skills for jobs with general education courses to help boost those technical skills. The general education courses can help students learn the basic physics behind the technology they are learning about for their job, teach students basic psychology and interpersonal skills for working with others in a workplace setting, teach students how to write reports well, and more. Larson said that the degree recognizes and respects real-world, hands-on training.
Edison is also looking to expand their student service-based learning, adding more sports like softball, looking more into utilizing open educational resources, adding a cyber-security regional curriculum, looking into middle school career pathways, expanding their flexible transfer options, and more. Edison is also working at the Ohio Means Internship and Co-op Grant, continuing their partnership with the Upper Valley Career Center with an apprenticeship grant, and continuing competency-based and work-based education. In May, they will be launching their river stewards program.
Larson said that the community knows that Edison is going to deliver when it comes to students and employers utilizing the resources that they have available.
“We need to continue to draw those students in,” Larson said. “We have the goods.”