During this year’s all-employee annual meeting, State of the Campus 2019, I covered three very important topics: HLC reaccreditation, fiscal health and new beginnings.
One of our top priorities this year is reaccreditation. OSU Institute of Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and was originally granted regional accreditation in 1975. Our last accreditation site visit was in 2010—these are usually on a 10-year cycle. We are preparing for our next HLC reaccreditation site visit on March 9-10, 2020.
Regional accreditation is the rigorous analysis of educational programs to verify they are of good quality and offered equally to all students within the institution. If a college is “accredited” this means an outside team of peer evaluators have conducted a comprehensive site visit, carefully evaluated its overall operations, and determined it complies with accepted standards within higher education. Accreditation is an important indicator of institutional quality and is essential to our ability to award federal financial aid—affecting 65% of our students.
In addition to reaccreditation, I discussed OSUIT’s fiscal health and explained how the financial strength of OSUIT is based on four factors:
- State Funding – is largely outside of our control. But, several years of declining appropriations have currently abated.
- Maximizing Revenues – great work has been done in this area. OSUIT tuition revenue is on the rise.
- Minimizing Costs – much improvement across campus here also. We have decreased our annual academic costs dramatically, by over $3.4 million in the last five years.
- Enrollment – Credit hour production has been declining, but we have been positioning OSUIT to be able to capitalize on higher demand programs. So, filling empty seats must continue to be our focus for the future and our priority.
As I mentioned last year, now that OSUIT has the ability to conduct a Contribution Margin Analysis, we have been able to make strategic decisions that have significantly improved our financial health. Contribution Margin (CM) is simply revenues minus costs. Basically, it is what you have left over that can “contribute” to other non-revenue producing cost centers. The negative $2.9 million CM in 2014-2015 put OSUIT in a serious financial position that could not be sustained with State Appropriation cuts. Amazingly, OSUIT has made a $3.86 million annual CM improvement from 2014-2015 to today. I’m very proud of the progress we have made, but we are not out of the woods yet. To be financially healthy, the annual CM for OSUIT needs to be at least $5 million.
Finally, I explained that what we’ve been doing over the last 18 months has been preparing this campus for what’s next. This has truly been a year of new beginnings—new and exciting changes that are positioning us for the future. We have introduced the new Bachelor of Technology in Applied Technical Leadership which officially begins this Fall and we have named new deans over four new academic divisions and they are in the process of identifying their new assistant deans. There is a brand new logo for the entire OSU System, and OSUIT has embarked on an awesome new marketing campaign that is already yielding many prospective new students.
Be the one they call. Be true to you at OSUIT.