Education leaders team up on funding formula
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 00:09
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is once again calling for teamwork from the presidents of Ohio public universities and colleges.
Kasich, who put Ohio higher education leaders to work last year to divvy up state capital funding amongst themselves, is asking once again that a commission of Ohio university presidents return to the negotiation table.
This time, the governor is asking the education leaders, including Miami University President David Hodge, to develop a new outcome-based formula for how Ohio public higher education institutions receive state funding. Once again, Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee will head the commission.
According to Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, there are six categories the governor is asking the presidents’ commission to focus on and incorporate into the funding formula: increased participation rates, encouraging the brightest Ohio students to attend these institutions, improved graduation rates, making higher education more affordable, graduating students with the skills they need to get a job and encouraging students to stay in Ohio after they graduate.
Johnson said integrating these categories into a funding formula will not necessarily be simple.
“It’s going to be a challenge because some of the stuff is not very…formulaic,” Johnson said. “But we’re going to work really hard on each one of these points and see if we can incorporate these ideas into the formula.”
David Creamer, vice president of finance and business services at Miami, said there are important differences in the missions of Ohio higher education institutions. With a commission of presidents working on a funding formula, these differences can be taken into consideration, he said.
“This allows for those differences to be incorporated in this budget approach more effectively than if the governor and his policy-makers simply came up with an approach to this problem,” Creamer said.
According to Hodge, looking at the whole system of higher education and developing a formula will be complicated. For example, community colleges and regional campuses tend to put more emphasis on students getting specific job skills, where as Miami’s main campus has a focus on the big picture skills emphasized in with a liberal education philosophy, he said.
Hodge said developing a funding formula will be more difficult for the presidents’ commission than dividing up capital funding as they did last year, but they are up for the challenge.
“I enter this process knowing that this is actually a much more challenging task, but we’re building on a continued good will amongst all the institutions that we have to work together to meet the challenge that’s put forth from the Governor,” Hodge said.
Miami Senior Peter Dougherty said he has mixed feelings about the commission’s task.
“I think anything that increases cooperation between universities can only benefit all of them as a whole, but I’m wary about how some of those [funding criteria] seem to be very broad-based and hard to measure,” Dougherty said.
There may also be more incentives at stake for Ohio universities if the presidents succeed at developing a new formula, according to Creamer.
“[Gov. Kasich] sees this as very important,” Creamer said. “If they’re successful I think he would certainly feel strongly about being more aggressive at the funding that he recommends for higher education. And if they are unsuccessful, I believe he’s indicated that he wouldn’t feel so strongly about that.”
Johnson said that while he thinks asking university presidents to work together is the right thing to do, there’s also a bigger picture: the fact that Ohio higher education is dramatically underfunded.
“The difficulty is not just with how the money gets distributed, but it’s also with how much money is placed into the formula,” Johnson said. “So there also has to be a realization on behalf of all the policy makers in Ohio, that [to get] Ohio where it needs to be with an affordable quality higher education, they’re going to have to put some money into the formula.”
Dougherty said he had a similar opinion.
“My biggest concern is the fact that it seems like the state of Ohio doesn’t seem to give that much money to higher education in general, which I think should be a much larger concern,” Dougherty said.
Despite the challenge of developing a new formula, Hodge said there are positives.
“We start with a governor saying ‘I believe in higher education, I want to support higher education and I want to make sure that higher education is responding to the long-term goals of the state,’” Hodge said. “That’s a pretty doggone good place to start from.”
will work its way down.”
Kateland Heestand, marketing manager for the Butler County Visitors Bureau, said there are definitely some outdoor experiences in Oxford that local residents and students can visit.
“We’re a big fan of Hueston Woods and Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, as it has a lot of wildlife as well has a museum,” Heestand said.