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Owens Community College names Dione Somerville new president

Somerville is currently the executive vice president at Hawkeye Community College in Iowa.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — The Owens Community College board of trustees voted Wednesday to make Dr. Dione Somerville the institution's eighth president.

The board made the decision after a five-month national search. Somerville will start June 15.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Dr. Dione Somerville to Owens Community College as its 8th president,” stated Mary Beth Hammond, chair of the Owens board of trustees. “We look forward to Dr. Somerville’s involvement with our students, faculty, staff, community, and board of trustees. The board is confident that with her leadership, the college will continue to grow and thrive in northwest Ohio as a strong community partner while helping our students be prepared for successful and rewarding careers in the surrounding communities.” 

Somerville is currently the executive vice president at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. Her responsibilities include leading the COVID-19 response and enrollment efforts, and focusing on diversity and inclusion efforts.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be selected as president of Owens Community College,” Somerville said. “I value Owens' legacy as an institution that creates opportunity for its students and greater community and will strive to further that tradition. I look forward to working in partnership with the students, faculty, staff, board of trustees, and the community to continue Owens' forward momentum.” 

Somerville earned a doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor’s degree in English/Writing from Ohio Northern University.

She's familiar with northwest Ohio and says Owens already has a great foundation. She plans to continue to nurture and grow partnerships in the community to further live up to the mantra that Owens powers northwest Ohio.

"By engaging multiple stakeholders inside and outside of the institution is the best way to move forward with that," she said, "and I think it's the best way we steer through the pandemic."

Community colleges nationwide have seen a sharp decrease in enrollment during the pandemic. Owens' enrollment last spring was 9,396. It saw a 20% drop to around 7,437 this spring.

"It really has disproportionately impacted lower-income students so we want to make sure that we take the steps that we can to turn that trajectory around," she added.

Somerville says even in 2021, there remains a stigma around community colleges. But she says she plans to make it her goal to show others the value community colleges and higher education have in our society.

"It is still the most reliable socio-economic vehicle for people to change their status in life," she said.

RELATED: President Biden proposes plan for free community college, universal pre-K

RELATED: Owens to hold in-person commencement this spring

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