18Jun Marion Technical College Hosted Ohio Association of Community Colleges Annual Conference by Wendy Weichenthal (Marion) Marion Technical College was proud to host the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC) Annual Conference this June. More than 125 college presidents, trustees, and other educators from 23 community colleges attended. “Community colleges are critical to preparing Ohioans for tomorrow’s in-demand jobs and careers while keeping higher education affordable,” said Dr. Ryan McCall, president of Marion Technical College. “Together, we can learn from each other about how to better serve our students.” Dr. Ryan McCall welcomes the OACC conference attendees. In addition, “community colleges are the on-ramp for bachelor’s degrees,” said Josh Wyner, founder and executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. He challenged trustees and presidents to make bold moves to help more students succeed. Guided pathways, like MTC’s partnership with Marion Harding, help students earn tuition-free college certificates and degrees. Transfer partnerships help graduates move on to earn a bachelor’s degree. Jack Hershey, president of the OACC, shared highlights from the past year. Speakers also included State Representative Dorothy Pelanda on behalf of the DeWine-Husted gubernatorial campaign and gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray. Marion opened its doors for these guests, as they toured the Marion Campus, Whirlpool, Sika Corporation, Wyandot Snacks, and Wilson Bohannan. Part of the conference was held in the Marion Palace Theatre’s beautiful May Pavilion. The Marion Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Marion Community Foundation, Wilson Bohannan, Wyandot and Pop’d Sensations provided gift items for these guests. Mike Stuckey, director of the MTC Foundation, talks with other OACC attendees, including Dr. Vicky Wood, second from right. While many conference attendees were new visitors to Marion, for others it was a welcome trip home. Guests included Dr. Vicky Wood, an MTC graduate and former Chief Academic Officer who now serves as the president of Washington State Community College in Marietta. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that graduates with an associate’s degree earn an average of $53,000 a year, significantly more than those with just a high school diploma. The OACC says Ohio community colleges cost about a third of what it costs to attend a state university. Franklin University and Findley were platinum sponsors of the OACC conference. Gold sponsors included the Graduation Alliance, Starfish by Hobsons, Edunav, campuslogic, Ad Astra, and Inside Track.