SSU closes degree attainment gap

Ohio’s 14 public universities, including Shawnee State University, are launching a statewide communication campaign designed to raise awareness of the value of public higher education and spur efforts to close the state’s increasingly alarming higher education attainment gap. To accomplish this goal, the effort, called Forward Ohio, seeks to mobilize public support for enhanced investment in public higher education and ensure that it is a public policy imperative for state government.

“We need more college graduates in our state,” SSU President Rick Kurtz says. “It’s that simple. Ohio’s ‘talent gap’ — or difference between the number of working adults with a college degree and the demand for those degrees by employers — impacts our ability to attract and retain jobs and fuel our economy. Higher education is the key to creating economic opportunity for Ohioans seeking to start a career or transition to a new career.”

Studies indicate that about 66 percent of jobs in Ohio in 2025 will require degrees, certificates or education beyond high school. Currently, just 44 percent of working age Ohioans have these credentials. Given the fact that Ohio public universities produce the majority of skilled workers in the state, maintaining a strong system of public higher education is essential to closing this gap and meeting the economic and workforce needs of our business community.

Access to higher education is a vital part of Shawnee State’s history and mission, Kurtz said. With tuition among the lowest in Ohio, open access pathways for all students, new and expanding programs for adult learners, and support services for a large first-generation population, Shawnee State is making college possible for more students.

“A recent poll shows that 85 percent of Ohioans agree that a four-year degree from a public university in Ohio prepares students for a good job in today’s economy,” Kurtz says. “I urge this large majority of citizens to stand with me and my fellow public university presidents to advocate for a strong productive system of public higher education in Ohio, for the benefit of our students, our economy and our state as a whole.”