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  • A Rich History

    A Rich History

    In 2013, Edison State Community College celebrated forty years of service. Edison State Community College was chartered to meet a demand for high-quality, affordable college education, that focused on serving the residents of Darke, Miami and Shelby counties. As has often been the case, our region was visionary in its timing, as Edison State was chartered in 1973, as the first state general and technical college in Ohio under provisions of the Ohio Revised Code. The College was chartered without special local taxation as a two-year, public, coeducational, state-supported institution of higher learning with privileges of offering studies in the arts and sciences, technical education and adult continuing education. The following is a five-piece series, as written and published in 2013, highlighting our history and our continued commitment to the region.

  • The first of a five-part series highlighting Edison State Community College as it celebrated 40 years of service, focuses on Edison State's history. This piece was written on behalf of the College's Board of Trustees.

     

    Celebrating forty years of service, Edison State Community College was chartered to meet a demand for high-quality, affordable college education, focused on serving the residents of Darke, Miami, and Shelby counties. As has often been the case, our region was visionary in its timing, as Edison State was chartered in 1973 as the first state general and technical college in Ohio under provisions of the Ohio Revised Code. The College was chartered without special local taxation as a two-year, public, coeducational, state-supported institution of higher learning with privileges of offering studies in the arts and sciences, technical education, and adult continuing education.

    Several events were essential to the establishment of the College. On January 12, 1973, the Ohio Board of Regents authorized the development of a general and technical college in the Darke, Miami, and Shelby county area. On May 18 of that year, the Regents also granted authority to operate as an approved state-supported institution with the issuance of a charter in the original College name, Edison State General and Technical College. Prior to those occurrences, the Ohio Legislature had appropriated four million dollars for constructing and equipping facilities for the permanent campus.

    A 130-acre site east of Piqua was donated for the campus in December of 1973 from the Hartzell-Norris Trust, and Edison State's Board of Trustees selected Freytag and Freytag of Sidney as architects for the first campus building. Following the governor's appointment of the nine-member Board of Trustees, action was taken to assure the offering of college courses in the fall of 1973, while the permanent campus was being designed and constructed.

    Agreements were signed with the Piqua Board of Education for the temporary use of facilities at Spring Street Elementary School and the Central High School and with Wright State University for providing instruction in the lower-division general studies courses. Under these arrangements, 309 students enrolled in 30 different courses during the first term of the 1973-1974 academic year.

    Edison State moved into its now familiar campus off Looney Road in 1976 and work was immediately started on a 1.5 million dollar expansion, which had been appropriated in 1975. On November 4, 1977 by legislative enactment, the College became Edison State Community College. Another appropriation of $250,000 for use in constructing athletic fields was awarded during the same year.

    By the Fall Quarter of 1978, the College was the fastest growing two-year college in Ohio with 1,727 students enrolled and over 150 personnel employed. In addition to increasing its own facilities, the College transferred 20 acres of land to the Piqua Board of Education for construction of a new high school, further contributing to the modern educational complex that exists today, consisting of Edison State Community College, Piqua Jr. & Sr. High Schools, and the Upper Valley Career Center.

    Within six years of its establishment, the College had enrolled a total of 2,300 credit and non-credit students. The addition of several programs increased the areas of technical study to 19. In keeping with the College's commitment to provide better education opportunities to the community it serves, a permanent Darke County Campus in Greenville was opened in the spring of 1980 and continues to operate, though it has been renovated to ensure that technology and other services are comparable to those on the Piqua campus. The most recent addition to the Piqua campus was when the Emerson Regional Center of Excellence was dedicated on May 3, 2007. The Center is LEED certified and now hosts classes, functions, and an area dedicated to the College's namesake, Thomas Alva Edison.

    Edison State currently serves more than 4,000 unduplicated students per year, who choose from over 30 technical fields of study, baccalaureate transfer programs, developmental course work, and Business and Industry offerings that provide on-site training, career preparation, and personal enrichment. With so much to offer and with ongoing processes that assure consistent quality, Edison State continues to have a sustained, significant impact in the region. Since the doors opened in 1973, Edison State has served more than 71,000 students, boasts 9,796 graduates and is excited to be awarding its 10,000th credential during this 40th anniversary year.


    In Part Two, the focus shifts to Edison State's mission over the past forty years, including access, opportunity and the College's brand promise of "a personal experience, a rewarding education".

     

    The second of a five-part series highlighting Edison State Community College as it celebrated 40 years of service, focuses on the College's mission. This segment was written by former Edison State President Cristobal Valdez.

     

    Community colleges are an American invention which place publicly funded higher education opportunities in close-to-home facilities. The first community college started nearly 100 years ago and since then community colleges have made their reputation by being inclusive institutions which welcome all students who desire to learn, regardless of wealth, heritage or previous academic experience. Similarly, Edison State Community College was established in 1973 to provide access to educational opportunities for the local residents of Darke, Miami, and Shelby counties.

    The community college's mission is the fountain from which all of its activities flow. It is the lifeblood of all that we do and it directs and motivates the college to serve students and develop pathways for their success. In simplest terms, the mission of the community college is to provide education for individuals, many of whom are adults, in its service region. Like most community colleges, Edison State Community College's mission includes basic commitments to: serve all segments of society through an open-access admissions policy that offers equal and fair treatment to all students; provide a comprehensive educational program; serve its region as a community-based institution of higher education; and provide lifelong learning opportunities through the teaching and learning process.

    To further guide us in serving our communities and our students, Edison State Community College has created Core Values for its educational programs and environment which include: Communication, Ethics, Critical Thinking, Human Diversity, Inquiry/Respect for Learning and Interpersonal Skills/Teamwork. These values are reflected in every aspect of the College. Students' educational experiences incorporate the core values at all levels, so that a student who completes a degree program at Edison State Community College has not only been introduced to all of these values, but has had them reinforced and refined at every opportunity.

    Recently, all higher education institutions, including Edison State, have been challenged to incorporate a "student success agenda", calling for higher rates of student retention, success and graduation. We are committed to aligning student success with future opportunities for continued career success. To this end, we have recently instituted a Linking and Learning initiative, in which our Board of Trustees hold meetings off-campus at industry locations such as Upper Valley Medical Center, Emerson Climate Technologies, Honda of America and Midmark. These meetings have allowed us to develop stronger relationships with local business and industry leaders, increase our knowledge of their respective industries, and align our curriculum with industry needs to provide qualified graduates ready for employment.

    Included in the comprehensive nature of our mission, we provide educational pathways to prepare area high school student for higher education including providing opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to participate in the College Credit Plus program and receive both high school and college credits for their studies. Further, we provide opportunities for current Edison State students to transfer to area and regional universities and have established numerous articulation agreements in the areas of Business, Engineering, Education and Nursing, to name a few, that ensure our graduates seamless entry into a baccalaureate program.

    For all of our existence, Edison State has focused on providing the learning opportunities that enable and empower citizens, commerce and communities in Darke, Miami and Shelby counties. We continue that commitment and strive daily to provide "A personal experience, a rewarding education" to all of our students and to be a resource for all the communities we serve.


    Part Three focuses on the evolution of Edison State's programs and services over the past forty years, including academic programs and services, information technology and student services.

     

    The third of a five-part series highlighting Edison State Community College as it celebrated 40 years of service, focuses on Edison State's academic programs, information technology and student services. This segment was written on behalf of Dr. Patti Ross, Mr. David Gansz and Mr. Scott Burnam, who have served as senior administrators at Edison State in these three areas, respectively.

     

    Today, Edison State runs more than 800 course sections to support more than 30 associate degrees and one-year certificates. We now offer degrees in areas that include: Accounting, Business, Computer Information Technology, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Electrical, Mechanical and Industrial Management Technologies, Nursing, Paralegal, Physical Therapy Assisting and Social Services.

    Edison State's academic programs undergo systematic reviews, which utilize both internal and external stakeholders to ensure that our programs are academically rigorous, and relevant to the needs of the businesses and industries who hire our graduates. In the 21st century, however, rigor and relevance must be accompanied by the right delivery method. In addition to maintaining strong commitment to our brick-and-mortar classroom delivery, Edison State also offers programs and courses completely online and in a hybrid online/in-person format. In order for all of this instruction to work, in multiple delivery formats and across so varied a set of programs, Edison State has to employ the best and most current technology and learning resources.

    Back when the College's 'original six' academic programs were launched, rotary telephones, handwritten memos and letters produced on typewriters were standard. Now Edison State is a leader in the electronic information age. Edison State's course listing is available on the internet, allowing current and prospective students to devise schedules and register for classes through its website. Applicants receive Edison State e-mail accounts, and can log on to the Edison State network at their leisure. Via OhioLINK, students and faculty can order books from any University in the state and have them delivered within days. They can search one hundred research databases from home or on campus, and save articles to their laptop, tablet or mobile device. Every Edison State class has an online course site, where discussions take place and documents reside, and many classes now use electronic textbooks. Although technology is an excellent aid to student persistence, Edison State also offers tutoring in the learning center for those times when students need more individualized attention in certain content areas.

    Edison State allows students and visitors to browse the web with their own wireless devices or on computers in the Internet Cafe, Library and Learning Center. "Smart" classrooms are outfitted with PCs and projectors. Several classrooms allow teleconferencing, enabling faculty members the ability to teach in Piqua while their students are present at the Darke County campus in Greenville, or vice versa. The telephone system is part of the computing network, so all voice messages are sent as recordings attached to e-mails. All campus information, from student records, to human resources files, to departmental budgets are handled through a master database, integrating all areas of the college. Just as Edison State has always invested in new technologies to help ensure student success, it has also done the same to ensure a broad range of student services.

    Edison State's student services encompass two distinct functions: getting students enrolled and helping them succeed. Enrollment consists of applying, placement testing, meeting with an advisor, attending orientation, registering for classes and making payment. For most students, payment is made in part or total using financial aid. Student success services take over once students become acquainted with their first semester of classes and include success and academic advising, accommodative services, academic alerts, and student life and athletics.

    Most recently, the way students navigate Edison State's services has undergone a major transformation. Students no longer have to be shuffled among multiple staff members to get basic needs met. Employing a 'personal shopper' approach, many services are now delivered by front line and phone staff who meet upwards of 80% of student needs. They are supported by service area experts who help when the need is too deep or requires more time to solve.

    This is just a snapshot of what Edison State offers by way of academic programs, cutting edge technological resources and student services, but those are hollow concepts unless executed by caring employees. Regardless of where students interact with faculty and staff at Edison State, in these areas or others, they will find people deeply committed to student success and who believe in the quality, value, and opportunity that Edison State provides.


    Part Four will review the work of The Edison Foundation and its support of the College and its students.

     

    The fourth of a five-part series highlighting Edison State Community College as it celebrated 40 years of service, focuses on the work of The Edison Foundation. This piece was written on behalf of Mrs. Kim Horton, Edison State Community College Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

     

    The preceding articles have focused on the broad, inclusive work of Edison State Community College. Such work would not be possible without a significant support system both on-campus and in the community. The Edison Foundation is a prime example of where the College and the community come together to support Edison State students and synergy that results when that partnership is focused.

    The Edison Foundation was founded in 1995 as a separate 501(c)3 entity with a very specific mission: "to assist Edison State Community College in meeting its educational and community service goals…through the identification, cultivation and solicitation of corporate, foundation and individual donors, and by communicating the goals and needs of the College to the communities of Darke, Miami and Shelby counties."

    Since that time, The Edison Foundation's approach to accomplishing this mission has developed into a multi-faceted undertaking. Guided by eighteen Foundation Board Members and six emeritus members, who serve up to two three year terms under the leadership of Kim Horton, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, the members are representative of our three counties and include educators, attorneys, business leaders and friends of the college.

    Among the most vital work accomplished by The Edison Foundation each year is the awarding of student scholarships. With an annual enrollment of nearly 3,500 students, 63 percent of the student body is eligible for and receives some form of financial assistance. Annually, approximately one quarter of a million dollars in academic and athletic scholarships are awarded to nearly 100 Edison State students. The scholarships are administered by The Edison Foundation and are typically bestowed or endowed by individuals, corporate partners and civic organizations. For many students, these scholarships bridge a gap to college attendance and achievement that would otherwise remain unattainable. Whether for one semester, one year or the duration of a student's successful pursuit of a degree, every dollar invested in a local student is money invested locally to help train and prepare a skilled workforce.

    The work of The Edison Foundation is broader, however, than the administration of scholarships. The Foundation administers and hosts the Academy for Community Leadership, a five-day series of workshops designed to develop more effective directors, leaders, board members, staff and volunteers of not-for-profit organizations. Working closely with Troy and Piqua Community Foundations, the Academy began in 2002 with the vision and support Thom and Pat Robinson of Troy. The Academy has trained 188 non-profit CEO's, board, and staff members in the fundamental practices of board recruitment, planning, staffing, budgeting, evaluation, board meetings and community awareness to make a difference on their boards and in their communities.

    Edison State brings world-class entertainers to our campus to celebrate the Winter Holiday Season. Holiday Evening has become a hallmark of entertainment in the Miami Valley. Holiday Evening consists of both a celebration and a commitment. In 2013, the celebration, consistent with  previous entertainment such as The Ten Tenors and Doc Severson, featured "The Return", one of the most sought after Beatles tribute bands in the world. The commitment is demonstrated in the generous support of event sponsors and attendees, with all proceeds from the event going to support the Edison State General Scholarship Fund.

    The Foundation also supports the college and its staff directly in a number of ways, one of which is the 'Pie in the Sky' mini-grant. These grants are designed to provide financial support for innovative projects, programs and services not funded through regular departmental budgets. All that is required for consideration is that the scope of the request must support the mission of the College and directly impact Edison State students.

    Lastly, The Edison Foundation has led the College to new heights by brokering the financial support required to design and build the Emerson/Copeland Regional Center of Excellence, the centerpiece of our Piqua campus. The center allowed the College to expand and meet the high demand for instructional space, for programs such as Nursing, through the generous support of the community and industry leaders, including Emerson Climate Technologies, Upper Valley Medical Center and Wayne and Wilson Hospitals. These and other business' support and the groundswell of giving from our community members have helped to build a campus and College that they area can access with pride.


    The fifth and final segment of the series highlights Edison State Community College's future plans, aspirations and potential.

     

    The fifth and final segment of a five-part series highlighting Edison State Community College as it celebrated 40 years of service, focuses on Edison State's future. This piece was written by former Edison State President Cristobal Valdez.

     

    The key to informing and influencing the future is to embrace and examine the past. Edison State Community College's first forty years of service provide an ideal springboard for future endeavors, but the future is an uncertain thing and trying to predict it is difficult. There are however, tools and approaches that take some of the mystery and element of chance out of this process.

    At Edison State, the choice was made to engage with all internal and external stakeholders to begin our future planning. As a result, in 2011, all planning, ranging from strategic to departmental underwent a review, with the intent to engage and energize the campus while continuing to move the campus forward to excellence.

    Following this review, Edison State began to develop a new strategic plan utilizing a process based on appreciative inquiry called SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results). SOAR includes a vital listening process where stakeholders tell the organization its strengths, core competencies, advantages and challenges; either confirming or defining what is already believed and known. All areas of the organization were engaged in the planning through participation in the SOAR process.

    Nearly two hundred internal and external stakeholders attended 26 focus group sessions held in early 2013. The focus group participants were representative of the following stakeholder groups: full-time and adjunct faculty members, classified and administrative employees, students, area high school representatives, university partners, Edison State alumni and retirees, Edison State Trustees, Chamber of Commerce representatives, Government/Job Center representatives, and industry leaders including healthcare, manufacturing, local non-profit organizations and Edison State vendors.

    The College is now finalizing the newest iteration of its strategic plan, having sought and received broad input from students, staff, residents and industry. The plan provides general direction through the identification of five key results on which it will maintain focus. The first four of the key results are: 1) sustain positive employee engagement; 2) practice financial sustainability; 3) cultivate and improve student success and completion; 4) actively engage with, and be a valuable resource for the community.

    Edison State has invested in multiple leadership training opportunities for employees with an emphasis on empowerment and accountability and said opportunities are now being offered to community members. Policies have been put in place, such as mandatory orientation and the elimination of late registration, which have and will continue to increase student success. Edison State has made a concerted effort to contain operational costs and increase sector market competitiveness.

    The College is confident that the attainment of these initiatives will develop a broad synergy, informed by a broad array of community constituents and executed by staff, to ensure the best use of resources for the realization of results that will be assessed and improved on an annual basis. This realization has brought the College to establishing a fifth key result; vigorously enhance awareness of the comprehensive nature of Edison State.

    During focus group exchanges and in multiple interactions with community members it became clear that Edison State must do a better job of articulating its programs, services and mission to all of its constituents. Some might be surprised to hear that Edison State has recently won two awards for operational excellence; that Edison State was the first or second choice of 90 percent of its currents students; that 93 percent of current students would recommend Edison State to a friend or family member. The College is proud that in a recent survey of local employers, 88 percent of respondents were satisfied with the Edison State graduate they hired and 96 percent would consider hiring another Edison State graduate.

    In 2011, the mantra began that Edison State "allows people to dream and realize those dreams." Since that time, Edison State has produced over 1,600 college graduates, 1,000 of those are first-generation graduates, defined as graduates whose parents did not complete a college degree.

    Edison State Community College is committed to being a valuable resource for our region and will continue to be responsive to the needs of its students and the broader communities it serves. Today's imminent opportunities may be replaced by new and different areas of growth tomorrow. Though future needs are difficult to predict, the College will continue listening, engaging and adapting as circumstances require, ensuring that it remains the premier choice for academic programming, workforce development, personal enrichment and community focused opportunities for the area it serves.