Stark State College has unveiled its latest satellite center at the newly renovated Ohio National Guard Armory in Barberton, a venture made in partnership with the Barberton Community Foundation.
The 13,500-square-foot facility now houses five distance learning and general education classrooms along with an Advanced Materials Joining Center that features 10 welding technology booths with space to expand as enrollment grows.
“We’re excited about being in the Magic City,” Stark State President Para Jones, PhD, said at Thursday’s grand opening as she thanked the Foundation, local elected officials, businesses and others who made the vision a reality. The College, she said, is committed to bringing Barberton-area residents of all ages access to affordable, quality higher education.
Stark State has joined the Foundation in a 10-year lease agreement for the former armory at 664 Norton Ave. The Foundation invested $1.8 million in infrastructure improvements while Stark State added $800,000 in equipment and furnishings.
“Educational excellence drives economic development,” said Larry Lallo, Barberton Community Foundation executive director. The new satellite center will fill the need for a prepared workforce for local business and industry, he said. “We know we have a great partner in Stark State College.”
“This is huge for the community,” said former Barberton Mayor Bob Genet, whose initial vision helped launch the project. “A lot of people worked to make this happen, and seeing it all come to fruition is rewarding.”
Barberton’s current mayor also sees the new facility as transformational, calling it “a tremendous asset, not only for Barberton, but the entire community.” The welding center will draw students from as far away as Cleveland, he predicted, while other students will be drawn to the array of classes offered in arts and sciences, business, health sciences, engineering and information technologies. “This is an excellent opportunity close to home,” said Norton Mayor Mike Zita.
To meet growing demand for welders in local businesses and the oil and gas industry, for instance, welding classes will be offered days, evenings and weekends, including Principles of Welding, Welding Lab, 3G Welding Certification Exam Prep, Prep for Gas Tungsten Arc Welding and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding Titanium.
Barberton welding student Larry Gill, whose goal is to gain 3G certification, was impressed with his new educational environment. “The venting system is amazing,” he said. “This is all really great.”
The Barberton satellite’s location saves psychology major Jennifer O’Brien time and money, she told the grand opening crowd. It’s close to home and work, the classes are flexible to fit her schedule and she’s saving money on the start to her multi-degree life plan. “I’ve been so happy with my Stark State education,” she said. “It’s putting me on a good road to my future.”
More than 210 students are enrolled at the new satellite for the spring semester, which begins Jan. 14. Satellite Coordinator Selena Myers is responsible for advising, scheduling and serving students at the Barberton satellite, along with community outreach. For more information, call 800-79-STARK (797-8275).