By SARA ARTHURS
Steve Robinson, president of Owens Community College, announced his resignation Tuesday.
He will become president of Lansing Community College in Michigan. He will be leaving his current position in 60 days.
In a letter to the campus community, Robinson said, “I was not seeking another position, but when I was recruited, I needed to explore this rare opportunity to return to the college where I began my teaching career.”
Robinson wrote that in his tenure at Owens — first as provost, then as president — “I have been inspired by the dedication and commitment of our faculty and staff. Our great teachers and team members have positioned Owens as a leader in university transfer and innovative student support services. We have strengthened our facilities and information technology. Connections to the communities we serve have never been stronger, and we are poised to help the region recover as Ohio emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our organizational strength and financial resilience have allowed us to proactively respond to the sudden disruption caused by the current pandemic and chart a confident path forward.”
He wrote that “in my remaining time as president, I will be working with the leadership team to make sure Owens’ mission and strategic plan guide our next steps.”
Robinson received national attention after starting a social media campaign to change people’s opinions of community colleges. In February 2019, he tweeted, “We are proud to be a community college. We’re not going to change our name; we’re going to change your MIND.” Among the hashtags he followed it with was #EndCCstigma.
Other community colleges also took up the campaign, and it led to Robinson going on television in Kansas and Pennsylvania talking about the stigma against community colleges. He also produced a podcast on the topic.
In a December 2019 interview with The Courier, Robinson said people may not consider a community college “because of public perception.”
But he also shared that, while he was working on his master’s degree, he accompanied a friend who was teaching at a community college — and it changed his life, to the extent that, years later, he could still close his eyes and see the classroom’s acoustic tile.
“It was unlike any classroom I’d ever been in. … There were people from every walk of life,” he said.
He realized he wanted to teach English at a community college and began shaping his own education and career plans with this in mind. He soon encountered a diverse student body. And, he said, every single student he worked with wasn’t there because “somebody had expected them to go to college.” They were there because they, themselves, wanted to be.
Robinson also, in that December interview, talked about Owens’ strong relationships with Findlay City Schools, and that the college works closely with the University of Findlay in ensuring that students who start at Owens can get their credits transferred to UF. He described Hancock County as “a really collaborative community.”
Owens’ board of trustees will meet June 2 and begin formal discussions of the process to select a new president.
“While I am excited to return to the college where I fell in love with community college teaching, I am truly sad to leave the incredible people of Owens,” Robinson wrote. “I have learned so much from you, and I will be forever grateful. … Given your dedication and commitment to the students and mission of Owens, I am confident the college has a bright future.”
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