The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2019

Wright State president speaks locally

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Wright State University President Dr. David Hopkins talks to Van Wert Rotary Club members and members of the community on Tuesday at Willow Bend Country Club. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)
Wright State University President Dr. David Hopkins talks to Van Wert Rotary Club members and members of the community on Tuesday at Willow Bend Country Club. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Wright State University President Dr. David Hopkins was in Van Wert Tuesday to report on the good things happening in Ohio higher education, and also talked about the challenges ahead for Ohio’s colleges and universities.

Hopkins brought with him a number of Wright State officials, both from the main campus in Dayton and the Lake Campus in Celina, while members of the Western Ohio Education Foundation (WOEF) Board of Trustees, which provides scholarships and student housing at the Lake Campus, were also introduced.

During the luncheon, which was hosted by Van Wert Rotary Club at Willow Bend Country Club, the Cleveland-area native talked about Wright State’s programs in Dayton and at the Lake Campus, noting especially the success of the Lake Campus’ new engineering program.

The Wright State president, who said he remembers watching one of his best friends in college, Van Wert High School alumnus Keith Van Horn, play basketball, also talked about how various state and national entities need to cooperate to find answers to the challenges that face Ohio and the United States in coming year.

“The future belongs to those counties, those regions, those states, that learn how to collaborate,” Dr. Hopkins told the group, “that learn how to, not get into all this competition, but learn how to build on each other strengths.”

One of the biggest challenges facing Ohio and the rest of the nation, he said, is training people to fill the 60 percent of new jobs created in the U.S. that will require more than a high school education. Dr. Hopkins estimated that there would be a 1-million person gap between those trained to fill the new jobs and the number of jobs available by the year 2020.

“They (the new jobs) are there for those who are prepared,” Dr. Hopkins stated, noting that only 34 percent of Ohio residents have any education beyond high school. Getting people to graduate from college and technical schools is the key to the problem, he added.

“If we can’t get more people to the finish line … then we’re not going to be successful,” Dr. Hopkins said, noting that upping the nation’s college graduation rate is crucial.

One huge obstacle to that goal is today’s higher tuition rates and the fear of taking on too much debt to pay for a college education, he noted.

Dr. Hopkins said those with high college debt usually made bad college choices — either attending a college they couldn’t easily afford or seeking a degree in a career area where there aren’t many jobs available.

He added that Ohio’s institutions of higher education need to provide an “affordable pathway” to a college degree or technical school certification, while doing a better job of counseling individual students on what careers will provide the highest job satisfaction and financial success for them. He complimented the WOEF Board for its providing more than $300,000 annually in scholarships to the Lake Campus.

Dr. Hopkins said colleges in the 21st century need to help their business partners solve problems that can then help the economy. “We have to help drive prosperity,” he said, adding that colleges can help students learn about business through the creation of educational co-ops and internships.

Dr. Hopkins also took a moment to remember WOEF Board member Dee Whitcraft, who recently passed away, noting her contributions to Wright State both on the WOEF Board and as a representative of the Wright State Foundation Board.

“I can tell you, for me, she’s dearly missed by all of us who had contact with her,” Dr. Hopkins said.

POSTED: 09/25/13 at 7:55 am. FILED UNDER: News