It’s been a little more than three years since Franklin University stepped in at the last minute and acquired Urbana University’s assets. But in that time, Washington, the executive vice president and provost, estimated Franklin has poured more than $15 million into Urbana’s facilities as part of a long-term plan to attract new students and shore up a campus that was on the verge of closing for good.
“I don’t think there’s a place you can see that we haven’t impacted with investments,” Washington said.
Officials from Franklin provided a two-page list of the improvements made since its acquisition of Urbana University in 2014. The improvements ranged from relatively small projects like removing tree stumps and repairing the grass soccer field to renovating the university’s physics and biology labs.
The improvements also included relocating the campus’ Johnny Appleseed Museum, developing a Graduate Services Office, ramping up wireless accessibility campus-wide and signing on with a new food service vendor.
Urbana University’s financial situation still isn’t in the black a few years after Franklin’s takeover, Washington said. But along with developing new academic programs and building better ties with local businesses, the improvements are part of a larger plan to drive up enrollment and make the campus a thriving part of the community, he said.
The university has always played an important role in the city and Champaign County, he said. But many people throughout the region still don’t realize Urbana is home to a private university with a history that dates back to 1850.
“Years from now, I would love it if everybody in the community believed it was a college town,” Washington said of Urbana.
Coming off probation
Urbana University had a long history in the city, but it has also faced financial challenges for years. Those problems became critical in 2014, when lean enrollment, a handful of failed business decisions and effects of the Great Recession meant Urbana couldn’t take on more debt to survive. At that time, the university nearly shut down entirely, until Franklin University, based in Columbus, stepped in.
A handful of local banks accepted millions of dollars in losses to wipe the debt clean, allowing the transaction to occur. As part of that deal, Urbana now functions as a division of Franklin but retains its name.
Local leaders have said saving Urbana University was critical because it employs more than 200 staff and faculty members and provides a potential pipeline of skilled workers for local businesses.
A 2017 economic impact study by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education estimated that Urbana University provided more than $60 million to the economies of Champaign and Logan counties for the 2015 to 2016 school year. That study considered the university’s impacts from operations, student spending in the community and capital investment.
Urbana had been under academic probation since November 2014. But that was wiped away in July last year when Franklin University received approval by the Higher Learning Commission to make Urbana University a branch campus.
Taking the Urbana campus under Franklin’s accreditation was a critical step as Franklin looks to develop new academic programs and provide better service to students, Washington said.
“There’s work to be done here and as we grow our goals are designed to create a sustainable university,” Washington said.
Boosting community ties
Washington said drawing more students to the university also means developing closer ties to alumni, providing more reasons for students to stay on campus and working more closely with local businesses to provide job options for students.
The university hosted its first-ever night football game last fall, an event that drew about 3,500 alumni and other guests to the campus. The university also hosted its spring game at night this year, and there are already plans to host additional night games this fall as one way to make the campus more entertaining for students and to develop better relationships with alumni, he said.
There are some signs that the work is paying dividends, Washington said. He noted the university received about 420 applications for new students last year, but that figure has about doubled to more than 800 applications for the upcoming academic year.
“To offer the programs we want to offer, we have to have a sufficient number of students to support those programs,” Washington said.
Another key, Washington said, is developing closer ties with area businesses. The university has developed a program called UrbanaWORKS, which will provide students with leadership skills while tying educational programs more closely to the needs of local businesses.
Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign Economic Partnership, said the university is making a more visible effort to work with local companies and determine what training is needed to match current demands. The CEP is the economic development agency for Champaign County.
She said Washington is part of a team developed to address the needs of local businesses. That group recently visited Honeywell Aerospace in Urbana and is scheduled to meet soon with Bundy Baking Solutions, a local manufacturer.
“They are intimately getting involved in the community,” Bailey said of Urbana University’s recent emphasis on local business.
The community is also embracing the campus more than may have been the case in the past, she said. Last year was the first year community members hosted a block party in downtown Urbana to welcome students to the campus at the start of the school year, and a similar event is scheduled for August.
“The university is making certain they’re a part of the community and the community is making certain they’re engaging the university with different events and activities too,” Bailey said.
[Read More at SpringfieldNewsSun.com]
By Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President of Urbana University
A 2017 economic impact study by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) reports that Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, increased the economy of Champaign and Logan Counties by $60.4 million over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year. The estimate, which is nearly double the $31.3 million estimated from the 2010-2011 fiscal year, includes the impact of operations, student spending and capital investment.
The nearly twofold growth in economic impact signals the important engine of growth that Urbana University has become for the region, through money spent in their local areas and through the education and employment of local workers.
As a private, four-year institution located in Urbana, Ohio, Urbana University enrolled nearly 4,000 students and directly employed 150 full- and part-time workers during the 2015-2016 academic year. The institution benefits Champaign and Clark Counties in a number of ways, principally by increasing the training and knowledge base of the area, but also through its expenditures, its employees, and its students.
The local economy receives benefits from Urbana University in three ways: through its operations, student spending, and capital expenditures. The direct spending for its operations affects the local economy as the institution and its employees purchase local goods and services. In turn, those local businesses and associated employees increase spending and buy local goods and services.
The total economic impact from Urbana University’s operations falls into two categories. The first category is the net economic impact of new money from outside of the two-county region that is spent within the local economy because of Urbana University. The second economic impact category is the retained economic impact, which results from spending of local students that may have moved elsewhere for education if it were not for Urbana University.
In addition to the economic impact it provides through salaries, Urbana University has helped raise the skills of the area’s workforce by educating potential workers. This elevated skillset in turn increases the supply of human capital in the region. In addition, by raising the region’s demand for human capital, Urbana University has helped local businesses create jobs for skilled workers.
This contribution is significant because regions with higher levels of human capital tend to be more innovative, have greater amounts of economic activity, and enjoy faster economic growth, and workers in these regions tend to be more productive and earn higher wages.
The 2017 SOCHE report displays the economic impact of Urbana University on the two-county Champaign and Clark County areas. The University increased economic output in the two-county region by nearly $60.4 million in fiscal year 2016 and led to approximately 5.6 million in total tax revenues, of which more than $757,000 accrued to local municipal and county governments.
SOCHE’s impact study illustrates the impact of Urbana University as an economic stimulant for the region. Through changing times and economic climates, Urbana University has continued to provide the quality training and education needed for individuals to better themselves, their careers and their lives. Through internships and other immersive work experiences, our students are connecting with in-demand industries and employers to advance our regional economy.
During fiscal year 2016, Urbana University spent $14.0 million on operations. Of this, approximately $6.7 million is attributable directly to the new money coming into the area due to Urbana University’s presence and $7.4 million is considered retained. This direct spending by the University from outside money generated a further $2.3 million in additional economic activity in Champaign and Clark Counties.
During the fiscal year 2016, Urbana University made capital expenditures. Urbana University made approximately $1.3 million in capital expenditures, of which $251,801 remained in the Champaign and Clark County economy, as many of the goods and services necessary for the capital purchases existed outside of the regional economy. This spending led to further local sales of $97,003, for a total impact on the two-county economy of approximately $349,000.
“Urbana University is an invaluable economic development partner in our county,” said Marcia Bailey, Champaign Economic Partnership, Economic Development Director “Their aggressive approach to developing collaborations has been a true differentiator in driving the regional economy.”
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, SOCHE is the trusted and recognized regional leader for higher collaboration, working with more than 20 colleges and universities to transform their communities and economies through the education, employment and engagement of nearly 150,000 students in southwest Ohio. For more information about SOCHE, visit http://www.soche.org/.
About Urbana University – A Branch Campus of Franklin University
Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, prepares students for successful and professional careers within a caring and supportive environment. Regionally well known for education and teacher preparation programs, Urbana was founded in 1850 and acquired by Franklin in 2014. Urbana’s 128-acre, residential campus nestled in heart of Ohio provides a background for students actively engaged in campus activities through 20 student-led academic, professional, performing arts, social and service organizations. Blue Knights athletics includes 17 NCAA Division II sports and three intercollegiate club sports. Urbana University is a division of Franklin University, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
by Matt Sanctis, Springfield News-Sun
A proposed tax reform package that could be before the Senate as early as this week has a good chance of passing, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan told a group of Champaign County business leaders on Monday.
Republicans have argued the tax plan would benefit families and businesses by increasing the standard deduction and child tax credit and cutting corporate tax rates. Democrats have criticized the proposed tax legislation as a giveaway to the rich.
“I do feel cautiously optimistic we’ll get tax reform legislation done before the end of the year,” Jordan, R-Urbana, said.
A recent report released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the tax bill would add about $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said during testimony on the bill that the beneficiaries are the same corporations that have been rewarded for sending American jobs overseas.
“If you want to cut taxes for the middle class, why don’t you cut taxes for the middle class?” Brown said.
Jordan countered it would lead to economic growth to make up for some of those losses, although he argued spending cuts and welfare reform also should be required in subsequent legislation.
“We’ve got to get to 4 or 4.5 (percent) to be able to grow at a rate that can allow us to deal with a $20 trillion debt,” Jordan said of economic growth. “If you get growth moving in the right direction, then you’ve got to cut spending.”
Several business officials who attended the meeting asked about various issues, including raising concerns about a lack of available workforce.
Jordan also pushed for welfare reform, which he argued should include work requirements for able-bodied adults. Last year, Jordan proposed legislationthat would require able-bodied adults without dependents to work at least 80 hours per month, or take part in vocational training to continue to receive benefits. It included more lenient requirements for families with children.
“When you require something for the benefit, what happens is a lot of people will forego the benefit and just get a job,” Jordan said.
The Senate version of the tax reform bill includes a provision that would eliminate the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, which Jordan said should have been included in the House version of the bill.
He argued Republicans made a mistake by trying to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, at the same time. Instead, he argued a simple repeal would have forced Democrats to the bargaining table.
“It was just poor strategy,” Jordan said of Republican efforts to repeal the ACA. “That’s why we advocated a two-bill strategy.”
Brown has argued including a repeal of the individual mandate in the tax reform package would cause millions of Americans to lose health insurance.
“Tax reform should be about cutting taxes for working families, not raising the cost of their health insurance,” Brown said. “It’s outrageous that senators, whose own health care is paid for by American taxpayers, would try to take health care away from working families in order to cut taxes on corporations that send jobs overseas.”
Some local business officials who attended the meeting said in general, the tax reform bill would provide some benefits to local manufacturing firms.
Mark Hunter, controller at Weidmann Electrical Technology in Urbana, said the corporate tax cuts might not translate directly into higher wages for employers. But he said cutting the corporate tax rate would allow the company to increase its capital spending, and likely expand and hire more employees.
“The wages are going to go up because competition is driving it up,” Hunter said. “We try to do whatever we can to maintain our current workforce.”
By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen- firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) spoke to the Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council at Urbana University on Monday. He spent about a half hour answering questions from the group of about 20 business representatives. Jordan talked about politics in Washington, D.C., but also addressed audience concerns about federal debt, health care and education.
“Lots of things voters hate about Washington, but the two at the top of the list are when politicians say one thing at election time and get in office and do something else,” Jordan said. “It drives them crazy and it should. We’ve seen way too much of that. We make the job way too complicated and it should be pretty basic: what’d you tell the voters you were going to do when you ran for the job, they elected you, now go do what you said. Keep your promise.
“The second thing that also drives voters crazy is when they perceive that there are two standards: one set of rules for regular Americans, and a different set of rules if you are part of the political-connected class,” he continued. “That drives them crazy, and it should, because it goes right to the heart of what our country is about. It’s supposed to be equal treatment under the law regardless of station, regardless of status, regardless of type. But unfortunately we’re not seeing that, so I spend a fair amount of my time as your member of Congress on that issue: trying to hold people accountable who I think have done something wrong, and trying to get answers to questions that my constituents come up and ask me all the time.”
Jordan asked a series of questions about the Clinton campaign during the summer of 2016, including why FBI Director James Comey called the Clinton investigation a matter and not an investigation, and why Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix.
Near the end of the meeting, he also said that he enjoys working with President Donald Trump.
“Whatever you may think about the president, I like the guy,” he said. “I wish every single American – all 333 million of us – could get a chance to visit with him in person, because if you could you would like the guy. He has a charisma and energy about him that is unbelievable. You can tell when you’re around him he genuinely cares; he cares about our military, our law enforcement, our business owners. He does. And you may not always agree with some of his tactics, but I think he is genuinely trying to improve the country and move it in the right direction.”
Jordan told the Urbana Daily Citizen there has been zero evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to affect the election, although it may be obvious they did attempt to impact the election.
Jordan said he is concerned with the end of year spending bill, which he said will be too high. He added Democrats may try to attach an immigration bill, which he said would be disastrous. He said he was cautiously optimistic that Congress would pass a tax bill by the end of the calendar year and that it would be good for manufacturing.
Possible tax cut
“Revenue neutrality is Washington saying we’re going to keep the tax burden the same, we’re just going to shift around who pays what,” he said. “In that zero-sum game scenario, what always happens is the big corporate interests get a good deal, and middle class families get a bad deal, so it’s just a bad idea. Plus, it starts on the premise that somehow letting you keep your money is a cost to government. I just never adopted that premise; my premise is letting you keep more of your money is called freedom.”
Jordan called for a tax reform bill that cuts taxes, simplifies the tax code and promotes economic growth. He said there will be stronger growth under Trump.
He was critical of the Affordable Care Act and said that health care was the one place where politicians had forgotten what the marketplace looks like. He said the ACA was based on a lie, but that the process of repealing and replacing the ACA involved a lot of compromise between parties.
“Never forget what we were all told as Americans when this thing passed,” he said. “I call them the nine lies of Obamacare: ‘like your plan, keep your plan,’ ‘like your doctor, keep your doctor,’ ‘premiums are going to decline,’ the president told us premiums will decline $2,500, the president told us deductibles will go down. Remember when they told us the website was going to work? They told us at one time our information was secure. Then they told us these co-ops they created – they created 23 co-ops that only started three years ago – and only four are still in business … and then finally they told us that emergency room visits would also decline. So everything they told us was a lie.”
He suggested reforming welfare to give people a greater incentive to get back to work, and that federally-qualified health clinics in almost every community were still available for people to get health screenings.
Also on this visit, Jordan spoke to the Urbana’s Rotary Club and took a tour of Sarica Manufacturing and the Hall Company. He will next visit Urbana for a tour with some private business owners on Dec. 15.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
Manufacturers opening doors to high school students Friday
By Gary Schenkel
Eight local manufacturing companies are opening their doors Friday to allow about 150 Champaign County high school students to observe modern, high-tech manufacturing in action.
The Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council and the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) planned the tours in conjunction with the national observance of Manufacturing Day, sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
“The county school superintendents have been helpful providing us direction on what students would like to learn from Manufacturing Day,” Jill O’Neal, member of the Champaign County Manufacturing Human Resources Council and CEP board member, said. “We heard that students would like to see not just the manufacturing environment, but a chance to ask questions about particular jobs, pay ranges and skills or knowledge required.” O’Neal is human resources manager at WEIDMANN Electrical Technology in Urbana.
Between touring manufacturing facilities in the morning and afternoon, students will gather at the Urbana University Student Center from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. There they will visit trade show-style displays set up by the manufacturers and talk with company representatives. They’ll also have lunch provided by the university.
Marcia Bailey, CEP director, said that parents interested in learning more about manufacturing careers for their children may attend the session at Urbana University. “Or they can contact the local manufacturers to schedule a visit with their students for a more personalized experience,” she added.
Each student will tour two facilities, including the Hall Company, KTH Parts Industries Inc., ORBIS Corporation, Rittal, Rosewood Machine and Tool Company, Sarica Manufacturing, Ultra-met and WEIDMANN Electrical Technology. Bundy Baking Solutions will join the others with a display at the university.
Urbana University, Ohio Means Jobs, Clark State Community College, the CEP, FASTLANE (West Central Ohio’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership) and Community Job Connect, Champaign County’s new online job posting and search board, will also set up displays at the university.
About 150 students will participate from Graham, Mechanicsburg, Triad, Urbana and West Liberty-Salem high schools. Triad offers Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s Advanced Manufacturing program.
Todd Bodey, who teaches Advanced Manufacturing at Triad, said the Manufacturing Day activities provide students a good introduction to manufacturing careers and technology. He added that a Manufacturing Day tour is what got Zack Zizzo, a 2017 Triad graduate, interested in manufacturing. “Zack toured ORBIS and became really interested in their injection molding processes.”
Zizzo is now interning at ORBIS, which is supporting his education in the two-year mechanical engineering technology program at Clark State Community College.
“I see students coming back with an interest in something, and the students see the enthusiasm people have for their jobs in manufacturing,” Bodey said. “I’m very pleased the manufacturers can accommodate this many students.”
Manufacturers to be honored
The CEP will honor local manufacturers at the Manufacturers Celebration Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, in the Champaign County Community Center auditorium, 1512 S. U.S. 68, Urbana.
“Manufacturing plays a significant role in strengthening our local economy and making Champaign County a better place to live and work,” Bailey said. Local manufacturers employ nearly 4,000.
“Through efforts like our Manufacturing Day tours and partnerships with local schools, we are preparing the next generation for manufacturing careers and ensuring the future success of local industry,” Bailey said.
Gary Schenkel is records manager of Champaign Economic Partnership.
Urbana University will host its 2017 Urbana University Activities Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event will be held outside of the Urbana University Student Center or inside the Urbana University Student Center in the event of rain.
The UU Activities Fair attracts faculty, staff, residential and commuter students, and it provides new and returning students with an opportunity to learn about the many events and activities that are available to them in the Urbana community.
Student groups, businesses and community organizations participating in the event have the opportunity to display information about their organization and even recruit new members or volunteers. Last year, over 70 groups participated in the fair.
The university will provide table space, chairs, water, and lunch to the representatives from participating groups. Information, discount offers, or samples are welcome and encouraged.
Register online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/UUActivitiesFair. The event is free of charge.
Due to the event being held outdoors, access to internet and electricity is very limited and is not guaranteed. Vendors are also encouraged to bring a small pop-up tent for shade.
Day-of information, as well as a map, will be sent prior to the fair.
Those with questions or concerns can contact the Campus Life Office by calling 937-772-9281 or sending an email to email@example.com.
Submitted by Urbana University
Urbana University has been approved for branch campus status effective Aug. 1 as a division of Franklin University.
Franklin, a private, nonprofit institution, founded in 1902 in Columbus, Ohio, has received approval for its change of status application by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
While the Urbana University name will be maintained, it will now add the descriptor “a branch campus of Franklin University,” or “a division of Franklin University” after its name. In addition, as an element of moving under Franklin’s accreditation, Urbana’s current accredited (probation) status no longer applies.
“This change is of great significance as it positions Urbana to move forward with growth strategies that leverage existing academic strengths, as well as offer new academic programs and athletics that align with the interests, needs and workforce skills necessary for economic prosperity,” according to a statement released Friday by Franklin University.
Franklin acquired Urbana University’s assets in April 2014 to assure Urbana’s ability to continue to serve students effectively. Working together, Franklin and Urbana’s executive leadership have spent the past three years identifying strategies to position Urbana University for short- and long-term success, according to Friday’s statement.
Reportedly investing more than $15 million, Franklin University has provided funding for scholarships as well as a number of improvements to the Urbana campus. Infrastructure improvements have included upgrades to science labs, upgraded security features, resurfacing of all parking lots, installation of new sidewalks and new stadium turf, as well as upgrades to Grimes Hall. In addition, the university is currently in the process of refreshing the dining commons and installing stadium lights.
Through Friday’s announcement, Franklin and Urbana further solidify the foundational support needed to continue efforts to better serve Urbana’s students, alumni, faculty and staff. Under the leadership of Dr. Christopher Washington, Urbana University will continue on its path toward revitalization by assessing organizational needs, and service configurations that leverage the shift to branch campus status, while maintaining a strong focus on Urbana’s unique brand in its own market.
Urbana is distinguished from Franklin’s other offerings because the campus has NCAA Div. II athletics. During an interview with the Urbana Daily Citizen in June, Washington – UU’s executive vice president and provost – affirmed Franklin’s commitment to athletics, saying he is a firm believer in universities supporting opportunities for athletes who choose to pursue higher education.
Franklin will spend the next few weeks updating web content followed by an update of marketing materials to reflect the new accreditation status.
For additional information regarding the branch campus accreditation status, visit this Frequently Asked Questions link: https://www.urbana.edu/about-us/urbana-franklin-university-information