BGSU identifies its centers of excellence

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Areas of strength at Bowling Green State University that play important roles in the state’s vitality have been identified and approved by the BGSU Board of Trustees as centers of excellence.

As part of the governor’s 10-Year Plan for Higher Education, Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut has instructed that each state university identify and build on its programs that have national and international ranking and can serve as magnets to attract talent and investment. All recommendations must be submitted to the regents for approval by December.

Two centers of excellence uniting longtime areas of strength at BGSU—“Developing Effective Businesses and Organizations” and “21st Century Educator Preparation” —received trustee approval April 23, bringing the total approved to four. The board also heard a proposal for a fifth, “Sustainability and the Environment,” which it will probably act on at its June meeting. Previously approved were a center of excellence in the arts and another in “Health and Wellness across the Lifespan.”

Developing Effective Businesses and Organizations—A strong, competitive economy requires the development of effective organizations in the private sector as well as in the nonprofit, health care, social service and educational arenas. Developing talent and fostering innovation have been identified by the state as important factors in making Ohio competitive—and these necessarily involve the human side of organizational performance.

Addressing that need, BGSU has six programs across three colleges, comprising nationally ranked programs in industrial-organizational psychology; supply chain management and organization development, and leadership and policy studies. Other components are BGSU’s minor degree in entrepreneurship, the marketing department’s Institute for Service Excellence, and the Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

21st Century Educator Preparation—BGSU has for many years been the primary producer of education professionals in the state and among the largest in the region. It also produces specialists in such areas as school counselors, intervention specialists, administrators, speech pathologists and other professionals serving children and parents.

The University is well known for the quality of its educator preparation and has recently received reaccreditation from the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education in both initial and advanced standards. In 2008, six of the Ohio “teacher of the year” awards in various specialties went to BGSU alumni.

Health and Wellness across the Lifespan—BGSU’s health and wellness programs comprise a “networked center of excellence without walls,” according to Dr. Linda Petrosino, dean of the College of Health and Human Services.

The University has more than 100 faculty members and nearly 5,000 students in 78 academic programs, research units and student activity groups. It has garnered $10.7 million in research grant awards and $900,000 in student support grants in the broad field of health and wellness, and has more than 300 partnerships with health organizations and agencies in the community.

The University’s distinctive approach centers not on the medical aspect of curing disease, like the University of Toledo and its medical college, but on the promotion of wellness and improved quality of life. A recent study showed that if $10 per Ohioan had been spent on health promotion every year for the past three years, it would have yielded a 6-to-1 return on investment by now.

The Arts—The first to be named among BGSU’s centers of excellence, the arts have long been a part of Bowling Green’s identity. The University has strong, collaborative programs in visual arts, creative writing, music, dance, theatre and film that prepare students for careers. The arts also have an impact beyond BGSU: A 2007 study by the Center for Regional Development showed that the arts and arts-led industries contribute more than $2 billion per year to northwest Ohio.

A leader in many areas of the arts, BGSU is known equally for traditional and cutting-edge programs, as well as for its arts outreach to the community, both from main campus and BGSU Firelands. Examples include the College of Musical Arts, which attracts students from around the world; the School of Art, which has become a national leader in the digital arts and new media, with students finding jobs in leading studios, and the Creative Writing Program, one of the country’s oldest, led by nationally known writers and poets and publishes the award-winning Mid-American Review.

The synergy among the arts and academics on campus is a notable characteristic of BGSU, University officials noted. The Arts Village Residential Community and the arts management minor are but two concrete examples of student opportunities to integrate the two.

Sustainability and the Environment—BGSU has numerous research areas directly related to sustainability, several of which fall under the scope of the Ohio Third Frontier Project. Partners in the proposed center come from across the University, from photochemical sciences and the Hybrid Vehicle Institute to physics and astronomy and the Department of the Environment and Sustainability. The partners have an established record of achievement in basic and applied research, engagement and education related to sustainability and the environment.

Externally funded research programs in alternative energy, environmental monitoring and global change have achieved international reputations. More than $17 million in external funding for projects related to sustainability and the environment has been received in the last three years. These projects have been in such areas as alternative energy, the electric vehicle and alternative energy technology, environmental monitoring and assessment, biodiversity conservation, ecological consequences of humans’ impact on the environment, and global change.

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(Posted April 24, 2009 )