A column written by Dave Claborn, Director of Development and Community Relations
The Ohio State University at Marion
At the beginning of the decade, the student population of Ohio State Marion was approximately 1200. Today it is very close to 1900—about a 58% increase—and the tenured and tenure track faculty has increased from approximately 27 to 40. The student enrollment number includes the Marion campus and our Delaware Center together. That growth, we believe, is reflective of several things—not least of which is the value people recognize in an Ohio State education. It also reflects, we believe, a growing awareness that today’s economy requires a well-educated workforce that can reason and think creatively. And, it’s fair to say, when the economy sours, people often tend to seek more and better education. People are choosing an Ohio State education also because of our continuously improving rankings as assessed by national publications. The theme of “excellence to eminence” enunciated by President E. Gordon Gee is our inspiration. President Gee was recently recognized as the #1 college president by Time magazine.
The regional campuses such as Ohio State Marion are an integral part of Ohio State’s success story. They deliver the Ohio State brand of education in a setting similar to a stand-alone liberal arts college. Classes are smaller (15 to 25 students) taught by, in many cases, tenured faculty including full professors. Yet, all of the resources of the big, well-renowned research institution are available to the students and faculty here on this campus. Accessibility and affordability remain hallmarks of Ohio State Marion. While the Columbus campus has introduced a selective enrollment model, the regional campuses remain open-enrollment portals to an Ohio State education—at about two-thirds the cost of attending the Columbus campus. Here in Marion, students can complete all courses necessary for some bachelor's degrees or they can campus-change to Columbus to complete their degrees.
Having this piece of Ohio State in Marion is a tremendous asset in terms of accessibility for many students who might not be able to attend college otherwise. Through the generous support of donors both present and past, Ohio State Marion is able to offer students over a million dollars per year in financial aid. The scholarship opportunities have recently increased with new “portable” endowed scholarships being funded by Art and Ann Lowe of Marion and long-time Marion County resident Trella Romine. These scholarships will allow a student to start here in Marion and carry the scholarship to other parts of the Ohio State system.
Some significant events over the last decade for Ohio State Marion include:
· 50th anniversary of Ohio State in Marion in 2007
· 40th anniversary in 2008 of establishment of the Marion campus on SR 95 as the location for Ohio State Marion (and later for Marion Technical College)
· A 700 student increase in student population over the last decade
· Construction of Maynard Hall, the new student services and administration building in 2005, greatly improving admissions, career counseling and other student services
· Addition of all the courses necessary for an Ohio State baccalaureate degree in history in 2003, bringing to 7 the number of majors that may be completed at Ohio State Marion, including General Business.
· Hosting Ohio Chautauqua events in 2004, Ohio Prairie Association conference in 2005, and first release of the The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War 1n 2009, among other significant outreach events.
· Departure of Dominic Dottavio as Dean and Director in May, 2003 as he became President of Heidelberg University and addition of Greg Rose as Dean and Director in 2004 following his term as interim Dean
· Remodeling of the first and second floors of Morrill Hall, and part of the third floor (recently completed) that has added or expanded classrooms, computer laboratories, academic enrichment areas for students, seminar rooms, student/faculty interaction areas, and a new student lounge, as well as upgraded instructional technology, accommodating an increased number of students, improved instruction, and more class offerings.
· Launch of Learning Enrichment Institute—classes in a variety of fields for people 55 and over.
· Multiple points of outreach and engagement with our community, including Kids' College, Five Nights on Campus, the Ohio Spider Survey, and PALS mentoring with Ohio State Marion and Marion City Schools students.
Looking forward, we hope to continue building Ohio State Marion into even more of a fully-functional small campus delivering the Ohio State brand of higher education. Over the next seven years, the entire Ohio State system will be involved in an ambitious fund-raising endeavor--to fund scholarships, academic programs, endowed chairs and new construction such as a new medical center addition on the Columbus campus. Here in Marion, we will strive to meet our part of that goal through endowment of additional scholarships continuing the long tradition in this community of support for scholarships for students attending Ohio State Marion.
In addition, we will seek to construct a new science building on the Marion campus with laboratory complexes for a variety of sciences including biology, zoology, botany, chemistry, physics, and geology. It will be a green building and will take advantage of the Larry Yoder Prairie Nature Center that will be located just outside. Funding for the new science building will rely in part on the generosity of the local community which has shown its tremendous and on-going support for Ohio State Marion ever since our founding in 1957. Some commitments to the new science building have already been received. Efforts will intensify to add this critical component to Ohio State Marion. Our goal is to break ground in 2012. Improved science facilities will be critical to meet the need for better science and engineering expertise in today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.
As we add new facilities, our plans are to add additional bachelor degree programs that can be completed here in Marion, so the campus becomes, even more, a fully-functional, robust college campus. We believe that future progress for Marion and the region depends upon education. Our future lies in the development of highly capable people who can excel in a variety of fields. We are fortunate to have this piece of Ohio State in our midst, making Marion distinctive as one of just a few communities in the state with an Ohio State campus. If we are to thrive and survive as a healthy and wholesome community in which to live and work, we believe it will be increasingly important for Ohio State to expand its outreach and engagement with the community—and equally important will be having the community more engaged with Ohio State.