(North Canton, OH – Feb. 28, 2011) – Stark State College has truly enjoyed a golden year, marking its 50th anniversary with record spring semester enrollment of 15,326 credit students, academic program and facility expansion, and an official name change.
This spring’s official enrollment reflects an all-time college high and a 15% increase over the spring 2010 enrollment. The student population at Stark State has grown by more than 167% since 2003. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education named Stark State the fastest growing public two-year college in the nation among two-year colleges with more than 10,000 students.
“Throughout our history, Stark State College has played a vital role in educating the community’s workforce, and given the state of our economy, our role is more important than ever,” said John O’Donnell, president, Stark State College. “We have anticipated and planned for significant enrollment growth given the needs of citizens, families, and businesses for affordable, quality associate degrees, certificates and workforce training that lead to career success.”
Stark State maintains one of the most affordable tuition rates in the area and offers a wide range of financial aid and scholarships to help students. Approximately 60% of all Stark State students receive some type of financial aid, including private scholarship support through the Stark State College Foundation.
Acknowledging its evolution over the decades from a technical post-secondary school to today’s comprehensive associate degree college with transferrable courses and degrees, Stark State College of Technology has officially changed its name to Stark State College, after receiving approval from the Ohio Board of Regents.
Founded in 1960 as Canton Area Technical School, the College later became known as Stark State Technical Institute and, by 1972, was named Stark Technical College. The name was changed to Stark State College of Technology in 1996.
“Stark State’s mission has grown in scope over the years,” O’Donnell said. “With the recent addition of transferrable associate of arts and associate of science degrees, our graduates have greater opportunities to continue their education in pursuit of a baccalaureate degree or they may move directly into the workplace with an associate degree well-prepared for career success.”
O’Donnell noted that Stark State’s enrollment growth aligns closely with the University System of Ohio’s goal to provide a continuum of higher education, in partnership with the colleges and universities of the University System of Ohio, and also with our private university partners.
In his letter of approval to the name change of Stark State College, Chancellor Fingerhut wrote:
On March 31, 2008, pursuant to a charge from the General Assembly, the Chancellor delivered to the General Assembly and the Governor his recommendations, known as the Strategic Plan for Higher Education. The Strategic Plan for Higher Education seeks to build a world class university system that is high quality, accessible and affordable. One goal stated in the Strategic Plan is to take advantage of Ohio Revised Code 3357.13 and increase access to higher education by allowing associate degrees to be granted at all twenty-three community colleges.
In April 2008 the Chancellor responded to the enactment of section 3357.13 by approving a joint application of the technical colleges that allowed them to officially grant associate degrees, Stark State had been expanding its offerings, and in 2009, was approved as a comprehensive associate degree college by the Higher Learning Commission, offering Applied Associate degrees, Associate of Arts degrees and Associate of Science degrees.
College officials say Stark State is responding to the increased demand for education with expanded courses, flexible scheduling offering evening and weekend classes, over 250 online courses, and additional course offerings at satellites and off-campus sites. Enrollment growth is occurring across all of the college’s academic majors. A primary emphasis has been academic program expansion in the STEMM areas, i.e., science, technology (including computer science, web, and computer applications), engineering, mathematics and physics, physical and natural sciences, and health sciences.
Enrollment at the satellite locations has shown significant growth over the past years as well. The downtown Canton locations now include four separate sites which serve over 1,300 students in their educational pursuits. This focus in the downtown area demonstrates the student demand and the community need. Growth has also been strong at the Alliance and Carrollton Satellite Centers, and in Barberton where classes are offered in partnership with the University of Akron.
The online course enrollments have also increased dramatically during the past seven years. “Our students have complex and busy lifestyles that demand the best use of their time. The convenience of online classes and satellite centers helps our students balance work and family responsibilities with their education.” said Cheryl Rice, vice president for student services and enrollment management.
There are many degree programs in demand in today’s economic environment that include business, health, and information technology majors. At Stark State College, there are new emerging technologies growing in demand such as biotechnology, defense metals, geographic information systems, homeland security, fuel cells, wind turbine, and cyber security/computer forensics.
The College has developed an outstanding reputation among business and industry for its support of public-private partnerships promoting collaborative applied research and development activities and educational enhancement in Stark County. The evolving Stark State College Emerging Technologies Airport Campus on Shuffel Road will house a world-class Wind Energy Research and Development Center, in partnership with the Stark County Port Authority/Stark Development Board and The Timken Company, and will be used for industry research along with education and training of current and future industry technicians.
A partnership with Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems (US) Inc. resulted in the opening of the Fuel Cell Prototyping Center in 2006, positioning Stark State as a partner to support the research, development and commercialization of fuel cells. Additional public/private partnerships are currently underway with Lockheed Martin, Ariel Corporation, Technology Management Inc., Defense Metals Technology Center, and Kohler Coating, several of which occupy space on Stark State’s main campus.
“Partnerships such as these create new industries and jobs for Stark County and are vital to Stark State’s success and to the career success of our students,” said Dorey Diab, PhD, provost and chief academic officer.
The recent expansion of the Corporate Services and Continuing Education Division to the new Hoover District in North Canton has garnered much interest from the community, said Diab. “We are committed to providing customized training for businesses and to the development of a quality workforce to meet employer demands in Stark County and northeast Ohio.”
The College is also a major employer in Stark County with over 1100 full- and part-time employees. “As the College has continued to grow, we have become a creator of new jobs and have added exceptional faculty and staff who are committed to academic excellence and student success.” O’Donnell said.
Expansion of academic facilities has also taken place. Four new buildings with more than 110,000 square feet and several parking lots have been added in the past five years, all planned in anticipation of the College’s growth, noted Tom Chiappini, vice president for business and finance. Construction is now underway on a new three-story, 40,000-square-foot Business and Entrepreneurial Studies Center with a completion date of spring 2012 and a new 32,000-square-foot academic building which will open for fall 2011 classes.
“In this year of our 50th anniversary,” Dr. Michael Thomas, chairman of the Board of Trustees noted, “our goal is to work with our partners to make greater Stark County the most educated county in Ohio and benchmark with the most educated counties in the nation. Stark State College will continue to be a key partner in economic and social development and, along with our partners, will bring a new prosperity to our citizens, communities, and businesses.”
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