WHILE Owens Community College is, in some ways, in a period of transition and self-evaluation, the college continues to perform admirably its primary function - educating tomorrow's work force - and is even expanding classroom and training space.
The registered nursing program's loss of national accreditation was a blow, and how the college shared that information was poorly handled and potentially detrimental to registered nursing graduates. Fallout from that incident is winding its way through the courts in the form of lawsuits by more than 50 nursing students. The abrupt retirements of Owens President Christa Adams and Provost Paul Unger only added to the general uncertainty.
But these struggles, while serious, should not overshadow Owens' accomplishments in other areas. A respected interim president, Larry McDougle, is in place, the search for Ms. Adams' permanent replacement is well under way, classes continue to be held, students continue to be educated, and Owens continues to grow.
Several recent announcements illustrate Owens' positive achievements.
Last week, Owens announced a partnership with Heidelberg University to allow Owens students dual enrollment in the two institutions.
Students taking classes on both campuses will save money by paying Owens' lower tuition, experience life on the four-year Tiffin campus, and already have earned credits at Heidelberg when they graduate from Owens.
Also last week, forums were held on Owens' Perrysburg Township and Findlay campuses to develop a job description as the college begins a national search for a new leader. Public input is important as college officials discuss the background, training, and experience of the ideal candidate.
Rounding out the busy week, Owens unveiled newly renovated Founders Hall, the former Penta Career Center administrative building. The $2.6 million upgraded building adds eight classrooms, two computer classrooms, and a computer laboratory - all outfitted with state-of-the-art technology - as well as 65 offices, four conference rooms, an employee lounge, and a spacious commons area.
This week, the college's Arrowhead Park Learning Center opened in Maumee. Some $1.6 million was spent renovating the 25,000-square-foot rented facility, which will offer classes in business, accounting, marketing, English, math, and speech in 14 classrooms, four computer labs, 19 offices, and a student lounge.
Finally, the college and the Perrysburg police department announced a joint venture to build an indoor firing range in the basement of the police department. Owens police academy students will be able to use the firing range, which is designed to train police in a number of shooting scenarios, for the next 15 years.
Together, these are evidence that Owens not only is committed to resolving past difficulties but also is moving forward in dynamic ways to expand its ability to meet the needs of area students and businesses.