Hopkins gives annual report at lake campus

CELINA — On Thursday morning, Wright State University president David. R Hopkins gave his Annual Report to the Community at Wright State University-Lake Campus.
“If we work together and really plot the future, we can bring Ohio to a level it’s never seen before in prosperity,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins said that out of 24 regional campuses in the state of Ohio — only one of which is a Wright State regional campus — the lake campus has grown the fastest.
He said the lake campus had a record number of nearly 1,500 students last year.
“I think one reason is, we’re paying attention to you and making sure we’re creating the curriculum and what you need,” said Hopkins. “The second is, look at this magnificent facility and look at the magnificent scientific labs we have out here. We made an investment for the future of this campus that will sustain success and excellence for many, many years to come.”
Hopkins congratulated some students in attendance who had received scholarships from the Western Ohio Educational Foundation.
Since 1965, the WOEF board has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships, Hopkins said.
“When you look at our students, that reminds us all of what we are here most for, and that is to provide high quality, affordable education so each one of these people … can achieve the dreams they have for their future,” said Hopkins.
Hopkins said that two major announcements occurred this past Monday.
The first was “that Wright State has been chosen by the state of Ohio to lead an effort that would really grow the aerospace and defense workforce of the 21st century,” according to Hopkins.
He said that $12 million will go to this program and that out of the state’s entire public university system, Wright State, including the lake campus, will be Ohio’s lead institution for this program.
The second announcement involved sending faculty members to work in local industries or businesses.
“What we mean by that is we’re sharing all the cost of the faculty member. What we’re doing is a new model of how we embed our faculty and students in a business,” said Hopkins. “They’re out there working and they’re working collaboratively to grow intellectual property, and then we share in the wonderful results of that intellectual property.”
Hopkins said he hopes the program will result in job growth for the state.
“We have to be part of the future of Ohio,” said Hopkins. “If Ohio’s going to get back to where it wants to be and well beyond, we have to grow jobs.”
Next, Hopkins discussed agriculture. Although Hopkins said that this region is one of Ohio’s great agricultural areas, he said he’s “seen kind of a backslide in the involvement of young people in agricultural development here.”
He credited Greg Holman with helping to secure a grant that will restore agricultural education to the area, including in the Marion Local School District.
Hopkins then discussed the “skills track program”, which helps teach students interpersonal skills intended to make them more effective in the workplace.
“It is a tremendous success for helping grow the talent in this region,” said Hopkins
He also said that the Grand Lake Law Enforcement Academy, which allows cadets to continue on and earn their bachelor’s degree at the lake campus, is another program that he’s very proud of.
He said that progress is being made on adding a mechanical education degree to the lake campus’ list of potential degrees and that he is also very proud of the lake campus’ MBA program, which has graduated 225 students since its inception in 1997.
“We want to be the most innovative university in the state of Ohio and I think you’ve seen that play out with (our new programs),” said Hopkins. “Those are the things we want to do to keep Ohio on the cutting edge.”
Next, Hopkins discussed the restoration of Grand Lake St. Marys.
“While this is a tremendous challenge for our region, it is a tremendous opportunity for economic growth for the region too,” said Hopkins. “… This issue is not just here in this region. We know this is an issue that’s going to sweep across the country.”
He said that Wright State wants to help improve the lake in any way they can, citing the lake campus’ water research institute as a means of support.
“We want to be the catalyst and we’ll bring all our abilities for be the catalyst,” said Hopkins.
He next discussed Lake Campus student housing, which will initially contain 32 units that should by ready by this October.
“Anything we can do to bring the best and the brightest is what we’re trying to do,” said Hopkins, noting that the on-campus hosing will help to entice students from around the state to come to the lake campus. “So I just want to commend everyone who’s worked so hard on making the student housing project a reality.”
Next, Hopkins fielded a few questions and answers.
The first question involved the current state of the economy.
He said that although Ohio’s economy is in a recessive state right now, he sees that changing in the future.
“All I can say to you is, I think we have to control our own destiny,” said Hopkins, noting that he sees the glass as half full.
The second question involved how Wright State would deal with planned decreases in funding by the state government.
“We’re a service organization. We’re not a profit organization. Wright State doesn’t make any money,” said Hopkins. “We take every single dollar we get and we turn into what we think is the common good.”
Although Hopkins said that Wright State lost $14 million on this year’s state budget, the university relies much less on state funding than it used to. He said that currently, less than 25 percent of Wright State’s budget comes from state finding ($90 million out of a $420 million budget), compared to 20 years ago, when around 70 percent of the university’s budget came from the state, according to Hopkins.
“While we’re seeing reductions in budgets, we’re being given more autonomy to control our own destiny as a public institution,” said Hopkins. “… We’ve had to learn to be much more our own enterprise.”
Hopkins said that Ohio’s 88 public and private institutes of higher education are “the strongest group of institutions in the whole 50 states, but we haven’t utilized higher education to really be this connector to economic growth.”
As hope for the future, Hopkins feels that there is now a better understanding of the correlation between economic growth and higher education.
Before Hopkins’ address, Lake Campus dean Bonnie Mathies talked about some recent changes to the campus. She also praised the WOEF Board, which according to Mathies, has donated $250,000 in scholarships to students during the past year.
Greg Schumm, the lake campus’ director of community relations, also recognized the individual WOEF scholarship winners who were present at the event.
More information about Wright State University-Lake Campus, can be found at: www.wright.edu/lake.