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Clark State looks strategically at the future

Clark State Community College will spend the next year evaluating its own strengths, weaknesses and goals to create a strategic plan that will ensure the campus remains “relevant and vital” for years to come.

President Jo Alice Blondin, who took office July 1, said the strategic plan will offer three to five overarching goals for the college and guidelines for how to achieve them.

The planning process will be led by Penson Associates, a California-based firm working on a $40,000 contract. The college has set aside $65,000 to develop the plan, Blondin said. Clark State has a total budget of $28 million.

“It’s an exciting time on our campus,” Blondin said.

“The common theme I hear from community leaders and employers is the need for well-prepared employees who have access to relevant, affordable, and high-tech training,” she said. “Clark State is going through this strategic planning process to ensure that we are poised to offer students an affordable, quality education that will prepare them for employment or successful transfer to a four-year university.”

Clark State is already a “vital” asset to the community, with a $96 million annual economic impact on its four-county service area, according to a 2010-11 study by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education. The college plays “an important role in supporting local businesses by understanding their workforce needs and developing programs to meet them,” said Sean Creighton, executive director of SOCHE.

It does that in Springfield; at its Greene County campus, which now has nearly 1,400 students taking classes; at its Bellefontaine campuses, which have 500 students; and through its online education programs.

Blondin said the students and staff at those campuses are among the college’s greatest strengths. She also said she found during her first 100 days that one of its biggest challenges will be the need to update its program mix to ensure it is relevant to the economic development of the region.

Clark State will be looking for community input on the plan, Blondin said. That process kicked off on Friday with a conference attended by about 250 professors, staff, students and community members.

“We had an extremely successful kick off,” said Board of Trustees Chairman James Doyle. “Everyone appears to be quite energized to support this collaborate effort.”

The community will also have opportunities to participate on the planning committees and attend future conferences that will be held in January and April, Blondin said.

Any changes recommended by for the strategic plan will require approval of the Board of Trustees, she added.

“We want the outcome to be that we’re better serving the needs of the students and our communities,” Doyle said.

The strategic planning process happens as Clark State also works on its marketing efforts. The college has partnered with Sanger & Eby, a Cincinnati-based firm, to refresh its brand and develop a new enrollment marketing campaign, said spokeswoman Jennifer Dietsch.

Wright State University this month completed its strategic planning process to create its “Empower” plan for 2013-18.

“The new plan, a guidepost for now and into the future as the university approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017, promises to enhance academic quality, student success, community engagement and economic development,” the university said.

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