Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education

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Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education ("NOCHE") is a nonprofit business and higher education collaborative in a 23-county region of Northeast Ohio. NOCHE's member institutions of higher education include a cross section of public, private, two-year and four-year schools. Collectively, these institutions enroll more than 226,000 degree-seeking students from across the United States and the world and grant more than 35,000 certificates and degrees annually. NOCHE's mission is to mobilize the region's higher education and business communities for collective action that advances regional economic development.



NEOintern consists of a free online database where college students anywhere and organizations in Northeast Ohio can find each other for internships and co-ops.[1] NOCHE program managers also present "Maximize Your ROI: Return On Intern" total internship and co-op management seminars for business and nonprofit leaders, human resource managers and internship/co-op coordinators.[2]

The Expys[edit]

The Expys awards is a special event for Northeast Ohio’s employers and students to come together and celebrate their ROI (“return on intern”) and experiences, and to gain recognition for their internship programs and the people who make them work. The impact is not only measured by economic output, but also by the meaningful learning experiences provided for students.[3]

Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend[edit]

The Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend is guided by a Steering Committee of business, education, civic, nonprofit and philanthropic stakeholders and an Action Plan with overarching goals to improve college readiness, increase retention to degree completion and increase degree attainment among adults with some college and no degree. On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at Cultivating Our Talent, the 2013 Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend Summit, NOCHE announced that Northeast Ohio gained almost 58,000 college degree holders since 2009.[4] The region boasts 955,000 college degree holders, which represents a 31 percent regional college attainment rate and a two percentage point increase. Northeast Ohio colleges and universities are awarding more degrees than ever before.


In 2014, NOCHE's Board of Trustees named Robert W. Briggs as president. Mr. Briggs is among Northeast Ohio's most distinguished leaders in law and philanthropy. He is partner, chairman emeritus and former CEO of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, where he specializes in corporate, business, and foundation matters. He has served for twelve years on the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Board of Trustees, including the past four years as chairman. He is past president of GAR Foundation and founding chair of the Fund for Our Economic Future. His numerous accolades from community organizations include the first Team NEO Peter Burg Regional Vision Award. He earned a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Mr. Briggs enters NOCHE during a time of transition. The organization seeks to support raising educational attainment through the entire spectrum from preschool through college. Mr. Briggs will preside over an expansion of the mission. His vision includes a far more expansive role for technology in education, especially through adaptive or personalized learning, taking advantage of Northeast Ohio's world-class ultra-fast fiber network.[5]

From 2007 to 2013, Ann Womer Benjamin served as executive director. Ms. Womer Benjamin came to NOCHE after serving in the Governor's Cabinet as Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. She was in the state legislature for eight years prior to that. Ms. Womer Benjamin is an attorney by trade. Her accomplishments during her tenure at NOCHE were documented in an email to the organization's Board of Trustees in late 2013. Some of those accomplishments are as follows:

  • $900,000 – wage reimbursements administered to more than 400 interns at 100 companies from the Ohio Third Frontier Internship program and others
  • 18,523 – the number of new students registered in NEOintern (a 563 percent increase since became NEOintern in 2008)
  • 960 – the number of new businesses registered in NEOintern (a 60 percent increase since became NEOintern)
  • 65 – the number of Northeast Ohio start-up companies receiving internship management services, including placing 180 interns, through the Entrepreneurial Internship Program
  • 2 – the number of Northeast Ohio universities public trustees meetings and annual reports NOCHE has coordinated at the request of the Ohio Board of Regents
  • a Northeast Ohio Universities Collaboration and Innovation Study Commission report commissioned by the Ohio General Assembly, from which some recommendations had been implemented

NOCHE improved its stature in the community by being more accountable and collaborative during Ms. Womer Benjamin's time as executive director.


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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

In the summer of 2009, NOCHE’s Board of Trustees 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.

Member institutions[edit]

NOCHE's members are as follows:[6]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "NOCHE: NEOintern". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Maximize your ROI: Return on intern". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Expys". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "NOCHE: Northeast Ohio Talent Dividend". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Robert W. Briggs named president of Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "NOCHE: Member institutions". Retrieved 22 April 2014.