North Central State College building

North Central State College is located in Mansfield.

MANSFIELD – North Central State College welcomed leaders from all 23 community colleges to the Kehoe Center in Shelby, the first Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC) Annual Meeting held in-person since the beginning of the pandemic.

Jack Hershey, President of OACC acknowledged the Kehoe Center was an ideal location for this event.

“North Central State is an amazing college with a national reputation for being focused on the success of their students," Hershey said. "We were excited to bring Ohio’s community colleges to Richland County to learn about the great successes of North Central State as community colleges across the state work to respond to the growing workforce needs of both current Ohio employers, as well as those who are increasingly choosing to make Ohio their new home.”

More than 100 presidents, board members and leaders of academics, finance and student services came together to strengthen their collaboration and hear from education leaders from Ohio and throughout the United States.

Hershey and Dorey Diab, President of NC State welcomed attendees and introduced speakers including:

 Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley, President of the Higher Learning Commission, the accrediting body for colleges and universities throughout the country.

 Randy Gardner, Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education provided an update on “The State of Higher Education in Ohio”.

 Jen Worth, Senior Vice President of the American Association of Community Colleges who shared “A national perspective on responding to workforce needs.”

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 There was also a panel discussion, “Finding common ground: Perspectives on how higher education can meet workforce needs,” moderated by Piet Van Lier, Senior Researcher at Policy Matters Ohio and Logan Kolas, Economic Analyst at The Buckeye Institute.

Numerous awards were also presented by the OACC for individuals who have provided leadership and advocacy in support of community colleges:

 Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to Shannon Bryant (Marion Technical College) and Jennifer McDonald (Central Ohio Technical College).

 The Maureen Grady Award for Special Achievement was presented to Donald Plotts (Marion Technical College).

 The Terry M. Thomas Friend of Community Colleges Award was presented to Senator Rob Portman for his work on the job initiative.

President Diab thinks this event was important in today’s climate.

“These leaders and educators represent the solution to many of the challenges facing Ohio," Diab said. "We have a pulse of the needs of each individual community we serve, and an outline of the workforce needs in the diverse industries within those communities. The economy is evolving, workforce needs are changing, and education needs to adapt to meet those needs effectively and efficiently.

"We’re up to the task. I hope this gathering inspired everyone to redouble our efforts for the students we serve, and for Ohio. I know it inspired me.”

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