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Higher ed leaders propose funding reforms

Campus Editor

Published: Friday, December 7, 2012

Updated: Friday, December 7, 2012 00:12

Gov. John Kasich and a group of Ohio university presidents proposed new funding reforms last week that increase the emphasis put on graduation rates and other outcomes.

The new funding formula was negotiated among Ohio higher education leaders after Kasich charged them in September with developing a new outcome-based formula for how Ohio public higher education is funded. And an outcome-based funding formula is what they came up with, according to David Creamer, vice president of finance and business services.

“[The proposed funding formula] will be more responsive to actual performance by the institutions,” Creamer said.

The previous funding formula accounted for graduation success, but the proposed formula will focus on it even more, Creamer said.

“Under the previous formula only 20 percent of the funding was directed towards graduation, and that percentage will increase to 50 percent in the new biennium,” he said.

While Miami’s rate for graduating in five years is 80 percent, and graduating in four years is 70 percent, graduating at-risk students is also taken into account with the proposed formula, Creamer said.

“A student who might be graduating from a Central State, or a Cleveland State, a Youngstown State, where they’re far more likely to be first-generation [college students] and have not [been] as academically prepared, that gets factored into the graduation part of this formula as well,” Creamer said.

Another proposed change to the funding formula would amend the support for out-of-state undergraduate students to only support out-of-state students that still remain in Ohio a year after graduation, according to Miami University President David Hodge, who was part of the commission appointed by Kasich to develop a new funding formula.

“That was a change that affected us negatively,” he said.

While Hodge said he was not critical of the goal of the outcome—to keep graduates in Ohio—he said Miami graduates who go to other states develop connections and links to Ohio during their time at Miami that can still benefit the state.

Another change with the proposed funding formula developed by university leaders is how regional campuses are funded. In the past, regional campuses have been treated differently than community colleges or universities in the funding process, but with the proposed formula they will be treated similarly to those institutions, according to Creamer.

Creamer said Miami will do well with the proposed formula initially, should it be approved, but said there would be room for improvement down the road.

“If you ask where we have work to do, I think it’s in the graduation performance of our regional campuses,” Creamer said. “That’s one of the places that we’ll need to pay even more attention to going forward.”

A certain level of compromise was important in developing the new formula, Hodge said.

“I’m really proud of my colleagues,” Hodge said. “This was very difficult, but clearly we do believe it’s in the long-term best interest.”

The governor will introduce the formula proposed by the university presidents as part of a budget package, likely in early February, Creamer said. Then it would be deliberated by the Ohio General Assembly in the spring and would likely be passed as part of a budget bill in early June, he said.

Creamer said the proposed formula serves as further incentive for Ohio higher education institutions to strive for achievement.

“All of our institutions obviously work to ensure student success, but this will make it even more important going forward,” Creamer said.

Hodge also emphasized the importance of higher education institutions focusing on outcomes.

“I think that’s one of the challenges that all of higher education faces, is that we need to make sure that we are really focused on outcomes, and not just the process,” Hodge said. “That was the most important thing to the governor and I think it was the right thing.”

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