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Stark State College enrollment growth continues with 32.8% increase; driven by student demand and business and community needs

(North Canton, OH – September 18, 2009)Stark State College continues its enrollment growth with a fall enrollment increase of 32.8%, which brings the College’s official 14-day enrollment figure to an all-time record of 12,483 credit students. Official figures are reported to the Board of Regents on the 14th day of fall semester.

Stark State is the sixth largest of Ohio’s 23 public two-year colleges and has seen its enrollment more than double since 2003. 

Cheri Rice, vice president for student services and enrollment management said, “This fall semester, we welcomed 3,088 new students.  We planned for such growth and were able to welcome and engage each new student.”

The fall enrollment reflects full-time equivalents (FTE) of 3,857, a 29% increase over last fall semester, indicating that students are taking more credit hours per semester. 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.

“Affordability is absolutely essential given the state of our economy,” said Stark State President John O’Donnell, Ph.D.  “Since 2004 we have anticipated and planned for dramatic enrollment growth given the needs of students and families for affordable, quality associate degrees and certificates that lead to career success.  We have been highly cognizant of the needs of businesses and corporations for an educated workforce.  We have reached out to every community and the diversity of our citizens,” said O’Donnell.

College officials say Stark State is responding to the increased demand for education with expanded course offerings, flexible scheduling, and additional course offerings at satellite centers. Satellite centers are located in Downtown Canton, Alliance, Massillon/Perry, Barberton, Carrollton, Navarre,  Plain Township (GlenOak campus), and Uniontown/Hartville.  Growth has been particularly strong at the Downtown Canton Satellite Center with 937 students located on the Timken Campus in the Timken Learning Center and the White Annex.  The Alliance Satellite Center on State Street with 471 students has shown significant growth.  A new satellite center in Barberton, offering classes in partnership with the University of Akron, has drawn about 117 students for the first full semester of classes.

Enrollment in online courses, eStarkState, also increased dramatically, up 48% over last fall semester and attracting students from 16 states.  About 225 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 assist our students with their busy lifestyles as they balance work and family responsibilities with their education.  These programs increase student access opportunities,” 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 each year 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.”

The College is also a major employer in Stark County.   “As the College has continued to grow, we have added new jobs to the local workforce,” said O’Donnell. Since 2003, the College has added 356 full-time and part-time faculty and staff, increasing our workforce by 69%.  “Our goal is to ensure that Stark State provides value to our community, as a key higher education institution in the region and as a major employer,” O’Donnell pointed out. 

Vice President for Business and Finance Tom Chiappini said, “Four new buildings with over 110,000 sq. ft. and several parking lots have been added in the past five years in anticipation of the College’s rapid growth.  A new 49,000 sq. ft. health sciences building was 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.  The College continues to add new courses and programs such as biotechnology, geographic information systems (GIS), homeland security, fuel cells and cyber security/computer forensics.  The College has strong business collaborations with Rolls-Royce U.S. Fuel Cell, Inc., the Defense Metals Center, Lockheed-Martin and Contained Energy, all located on campus.  Partnerships such as these create new industries and jobs for Stark County.

Stark State College offers over 200 associate degrees, degree options, and certificates in such areas as business and entrepreneurial studies, health sciences, engineering technologies, information technologies, science, math, communications, social service, and education.  The College also offers customized training for businesses.  For information, call 330-494-6170 or visit www.starkstate.edu.

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