Celebrating More Than 65 Years of Excellence
The framework for what eventually became NOCHE began in 1951 when a group of local visionaries obtained a grant from the Cleveland Foundation to conduct a study to “look into the condition of higher education in Cuyahoga County and recommend potential avenues of cooperation and coordination.” As a result of the study, the Cleveland Commission on Higher Education was formed with the following initial members: Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Institute of Technology, Fenn College, John Carroll University and Western Reserve University.
Higher Education in Post-World War II Cleveland
The driving forces for the creation of the Commission were the increase in college-ready students due to the end of World War II, and the GI Bill, which gave military veterans free or reduced tuition. An enrollment increase of 30% in the decade following the war greatly strained the enrollment capacities of the region’s higher education institutions. In addition, some students lacked a sufficient secondary education that would allow them to succeed in college. To remedy these problems, the Commission recommended the creation of a two-year college in the area. This recommendation eventually led to the formation of Cuyahoga Community College in 1963. However, still no public four-year university existed in Cuyahoga County. The realization of the need for more affordable education led the Commission to push for the creation of a local public university. Because of these efforts, with help from other regional groups, Fenn College became Cleveland State University in 1964.
One of the more significant historical events in higher education in Northeast Ohio occurred in 1967, when the Commission and other groups lobbied for the merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University. The merger eventually was realized in 1967 with the formation of Case Western Reserve University.
Challenges of Economy and Access
In the 1970s, public trustees sought to increase collaboration among area colleges and universities to achieve cost savings and ensure the maximum use of physical and capital resources. With a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents, cross registration was instituted. Each school developed an institutional plan that included collaboration with others. Teacher preparedness, adult education and weekend and evening courses were added at many institutions. Sharing library resources and developing platforms for interactions of trustees across schools became important issues.
A New Regional Approach to Higher Education
During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the Commission expanded its membership significantly across Northeast Ohio. To reflect this expanded geographic activity, the Commission changed its name to the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, or NOCHE.
In the mid-1990s, NOCHE assessed its own performance and future objectives. This evaluation resulted in the adoption of a new mission and set of objectives in 1999. In 2002, a clear vote of confidence for NOCHE was received in the form of a unanimous vote by member presidents to increase their institutional dues by 50 percent. With a new 2006 strategic plan, NOCHE's work continued as the only organization in Northeast Ohio bringing higher education and business to the table to promote the livelihood and success of higher education, and to further the economic development and sustainability of business and industry in the region.
A Mission for the Twenty-First Century
In the summer of 2009, NOCHE’s Board of Directors approved a strategic focus on talent development and advocacy, which was both consistent with NOCHE's earliest vision and activities and responsive to the political and economic conditions of the twenty-first century. In 2012, the Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy Task Force included NOCHE in its ongoing discussions in recognition of the importance of higher education and talent development to advancing the regional economy. The Board reaffirmed its commitment to business and higher education collaboration with a new 2015-2017 strategic plan focusing on significantly increasing educational attainment.