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Stark State College Fall Enrollment Tops 12,000, Driven by Student Demand and Business and Community Needs

(North Canton, OH – August 25, 2009)Fall semester enrollment at Stark State College has topped 12,000 students, setting a new enrollment record for the sixth largest of Ohio’s 23 public two-year colleges.  Enrollment has more than doubled since 2003.

Unofficial fall enrollment is 12,003, as of today (August 25), an increase of  29.3%  over the same date last fall. Enrollment is expected to continue to climb until official figures are reported to the Ohio Board of Regents on the 14th day of classes.   Spring and summer enrollments increased 15% and 37%, respectively, over the previous year.

 “Affordability is absolutely essential given the state of our economy,” said Stark State President John O’Donnell, Ph.D.   “Our dramatic enrollment growth is driven by the needs of students and families for affordable, quality associate degree and certificates that lead to career success.

“The true value of a Stark State College education is reflected in the career success of our graduates,” said O’Donnell.  “The majority of our students are employed upon graduation; most are employed in their fields of study.”

College officials say Stark State is responding to the higher demand for education with expanded course offerings, flexible scheduling, and additional course offerings at satellite centers. Satellite centers are located in Alliance, Barberton, Carrollton, Downtown Canton, Navarre, Plain Township (GlenOak campus), Massillon (R.G. Drage) and Uniontown/Hartville.  Growth has been particularly strong at the Downtown Canton Satellite Center with over 900 students located on the Timken Campus and at the White Annex. The Alliance Satellite Center at 1237 State Street with about 500 students and the Carrollton Satellite Center with nearly 300 students have shown significant growth.   A new satellite center in Barberton, offering classes in partnership with the University of Akron, has drawn over 120 students for the first full semester of classes.

Enrollment in online courses also increased dramatically, up about 43% over last fall semester and attracting students from 16 states.  Over 200 online courses are offered, along with complete online associate degree programs in computer science and engineering technology, computer programming and database, information reporting technology, Web design and development, and a one-year bookkeeping certificate.

 “Online classes and satellite centers fit the busy lifestyles of our students who often juggle work and family responsibilities, in addition to their studies,” said Cheryl Rice, vice president for student services and enrollment management. 

According to O’Donnell, Stark State’s enrollment growth aligns with the University System of Ohio’s goal to provide a convenient, affordable college access to all Ohioans, with seamless transfer from two-year to four-year colleges and universities.  “We’re seeing more and more students get their start at Stark State and then transfer their two-year degrees to baccalaureate programs,” O’Donnell said.

“The College has experienced double-digit enrollment increases since 2003, which reflects the community’s recognition of Stark State’s quality associate degrees and affordability,” said Dorey Diab, Ph.D., provost and chief academic officer. “Students come to Stark State for our affordability, small class sizes, dedicated and experienced faculty and staff  who provide personalized attention, flexible class schedules and a broad selection of associate degree and certificate programs that lead to rewarding careers in today’s high-demand, high-growth fields. 

“Our graduates continue to find employment despite the struggling economy because our degrees are market-driven and meet the needs of area employers,” Diab added.

Stark State continues to add classroom and laboratory space to accommodate its growing enrollment and soon will dedicate a new Health Sciences building to address enrollment growth in health programs. 

“Four new buildings with over 110,000 sq. ft. have been added in the past three years to accommodate the College’s rapid growth,” said Tom Chiappini, vice president of business and finance,  “including our new 49,000 sq. ft. health sciences building opened this fall in response to the community’s growing need for educated health care workers.” 

Also driving the College’s sustained high enrollment growth are new majors in emerging technologies, such as biotechnology, defense metals, geographic information systems (GIS), homeland security, fuel cells and cyber security/computer forensics.  The College works closely with the Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Prototyping Center, the Defense Metals Center and Contained Energy, all headquartered on campus, to develop innovative learning opportunities for students.

Stark State College offers over 200 associate degrees, options, one-year and career-enhancement certificates in business and entrepreneurial studies, health sciences, engineering technologies, information technologies, arts and sciences, and public services.  The College also offers customized contract training services.  For information, call 330-494-6170.

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