Newest Hocking College trustee, Ben Mitchell, right, awaits his swearing in at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

New Trustee Introduced, New Projects Explained At Hocking Board Meeting

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A new trustee took his oath and was introduced to new projects in the works at Hocking College on Tuesday night.

Ben Mitchell was appointed by the Ohio Governor’s Office to fill an open seat on the Board of Trustees. The seat opened after Gary Edwards decided not to seek reappointment to his seat.

Mitchell is a sales manager at Akzo Nobel Coatings and was formerly a trustee at Urbana University for three years.

He said his experience at Urbana University during challenging times will help him at Hocking, where a deficit was predicted, employees were cut from the payroll and the campus has faced protests and controversy throughout the semester.

“I think there’s been some very difficult decisions made,” Mitchell said. “Things are significantly better than they were a year ago.”

The newest trustee said the college “needs to be looked at as a business,” and the long-term health of the college should be the focus.

“The thrive-not-survive mentality is what we need to do,” he said.

Representatives of the college reported progress to the trustees, in academic programs and in budgetary matters.

Vice President of Financial Services, Gina Fetty, told the trustees the college is trending $1.6 million higher in revenue over expenses.

“This, of course, could change, but it’s a positive,” Fetty said.

On another positive note, Vice President of Administrative Services, Dr. Myriah Davis, said spring enrollment is projected to be up 25 percent. Unfortunately, returning student enrollment is projected to be down 14 percent and overall student retention is also set to be down 14 to 15 percent, Davis said.

But the college has already launched two attempts to increase enrollment and retention. Davis also brought a resolution to the board launching new programs in Criminal Justice and Natural Resources, which the board approved.

The two associate degree programs are the first to be launched at the college since 2007, according to Davis. The criminal program will allow students to choose areas of concentration in law enforcement and corrections/probation. The Natural Resources areas of concentration will include landscape, woodcraft, urban forestry, agro-ecology, water/wasterwater management and vet assistant/grooming.