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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Educational organization to receive national award

By Amy Kronenberger
NEW KNOXVILLE - A local education group will be honored Nov. 13 as the state's 2013 outstanding foundation on National Philanthropy Day in Dayton.
The Western Ohio Education Foundation Board, based out of Wright State University-Lake Campus, has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships worth $2.7 million to students, Wright State University President David Hopkins said during the Lake Campus' annual Report to the Community on Tuesday.
"I have the honor of actually presenting that award to the WOEF board that day," he told those attending the breakfast in New Knoxville.
WOEF, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary next month, was founded in 1962 to create a higher education learning center in the Grand Lake area. WOEF joined with Wright State in 1969 and eventually purchased the 173-acre, lake-front site where the Lake Campus is located today.
Since its inception, WOEF has awarded scholarships and helped fund staff projects and new facilities, including new campus housing.
"We can't thank them enough for what they've done to touch students' lives," Hopkins said.
Both campuses of Wright State have seen terrific success, Hopkins said, attributing that to the WOEF board, the university's youth and the university's ability to evolve with changing times.
"What we're able to do at the Lake Campus, and all of Wright State, is think a little differently than institutions that have been around 200 years," he said. "We move at a different speed ... Some of the more traditional universities take a little longer. We know you (businesses) work at a different speed, and we've learned to work at that speed with you."
The university has the second lowest tuition in the state at $8,200 per year and $5,614 per year at the Lake Campus, he touted. First-time student enrollment increased 15 percent this year, while overall enrollment dropped slightly due to the switch from quarters to semesters.
Hopkins said students were allowed to accelerate their degrees to finish before the switch this year. The Lake Campus' graduation numbers increased about 10 percent last year over previous years.
"They finished in record time because they wanted nothing to do with being caught in the transition," he said. "So we had the largest graduating class at Lake Campus, and I believe at the Dayton campus in the history of our university."
Wright State officials continue to work with area employers to learn what they need in a workforce, Hopkins said. Adding more bachelor's degree programs - such as criminal justice, early and middle childhood education, English, liberal studies, organizational leadership, mechanical engineering and technical and applied studies - was one step made.
The mechanical engineering program added last year doubled its enrollment this year. Next summer, 30 of the engineering students will travel to Germany for additional training.
"When you think of Wright State, think of this: We're just a vehicle to help people achieve their dreams," Hopkins said. "From this day and age and this world today, we know that we have a global economy and what drives the economy is talent and innovation. And that's what we do. We produce talented ... graduates who can go out and really do great things in the community."
Wright State achieves innovation through research, Hopkins said. Last year, total research expenditures reached $100 million.
"That's $100 million we're bringing into this region from National Science Foundation, from the National Institute of Health," he said.
That money creates research, which creates jobs by starting new companies and enhancing existing ones, he added.
Hopkins also said he applied for a grant this year called Ohio Needs Internships. The $11 million grant would allow area businesses to hire interns and co-ops during the school year.
"This is a competitive grant, and they will be making a decision by the end of the month," he said. "If we're able to win part of that grant, then that's something that will allow us to work with your companies to hire interns."
The Business Enterprise Center at the Lake Campus is participating in Hometown Opportunity. The new program aims to connect schools and students with industries to ensure workforce needs are being met in Auglaize and Mercer counties.
The partnership is expected to launch next month and will utilize many online tools, including social media.
"We serve you and that's truly what we do," Hopkins said. "As a public institution in the state of Ohio, we're here to serve the citizens of Ohio. We exist to make sure you, your children, your grandchildren, any family member, have the best opportunity for education ... in this part of Ohio."
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