Owens continues search for new president

By Marie Thomas-Baird - mthomas@aimmediamidwest.com

PERRYSBURG — An Owens Community College search committee has picked three finalists to conduct its search for a new president.

Trustees Chairman Mary Beth Hammond, who is leading the ad hoc search committee, said they hope to have a recommendation at the Oct. 6 board retreat.

She gave a status report at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting.

She said the college received 10 applications from executive search firms and virtually interviewed five. After that meeting on Aug. 18, the committee narrowed the selection to three.

“We’re all in agreement for those three top firms,” Hammond said.

Reference checks are being conducted over the next two weeks, she added.

The ad hoc committee will meet again Sept. 21 to make its final selection.

Former President Steve Robinson departed July 17 to serve as president of Lansing Community College. Robinson had served as president of the college since 2018 after serving as provost and vice president of academic affairs.

Interim President William Balzer reported on his three weeks in office, including an update on the college’s coronavirus response.

He praised the college on the level of preparation before welcoming students back Monday.

“We’ve been closely adhering to public safety guidelines … meeting multiple times weekly with the vice presidents to make sure our curriculum and delivery systems are in place, and that employees and students are prepared,” he said.

He said they have been careful to adhere to Gov. Mike DeWine’s five guidelines: mask up, back up, wash up, clean up and make sure the air system functions properly.

The board approved a request to expand the college’s HVAC system in College Hall to include the bipolar ionization. The systems were approved for three other buildings at the August board meeting.

Bipolar ionization reduces dust and mold particles by causing contaminants to gain size and mass and drop to the floor or return to the air filter.

“It not only will help us with COVID, but as we enter flu season, it would be a benefit to have it,” Balzer said.

“From a COVID perspective, I think we’ve done everything we can do. We will monitor and we will react … with plans in place for what we will do if there’s a case on campus,” he said.

Balzer is taking a leave of absence as a professor of industrial-organizational psychology at Bowling Green State University and will return to that campus when his year at Owens is complete.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Heard Vice President of Academic Affairs Denise Smith report that the college held its opening week activities virtually last week.

She also announced that Randy Harr, instructor of alternative energy and sustainable systems, received the Daily Point of Light Award for his volunteer efforts in leading nature tours, conducting restoration and promoting conservation for Toledo Metroparks.

• Heard Vice President of Student Services Amy Giordano announce the tentatively-called Spring Start High School Class of 2020 Scholarship to create an incentive for recent high school graduates who have decided to forego higher education. The $500 scholarship could be renewed for $250 for summer semester if certain criteria are met.

She thinks it may result in 25 new students next spring.

“With the creation of this scholarship, we are demonstrating even during times of crisis, we are thinking of the needs now and in the future of our community,” Giordano said.

By Marie Thomas-Baird