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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Light Rain Fog/Mist, 51 °F

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Pickerington Center celebration cake

The celebration featured speakers and cake.

Photographer: Jennifer LaRue

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Pickerington Center celebrates tenth anniversary

Center grew out of OHIO courses taught at a local high school


Since it was a birthday party of sorts, Dan Evans used a family analogy to describe Ohio University’s Pickerington Center.

Evans, executive dean of regional higher education and vice provost for e-learning and strategic initiatives, noted that at ten years old, “The center is a mere kid compared to a grandparent of over 200 years.”

He told of former University president John Calhoun Baker’s mission of service to the region as Baker created the first branch campuses, and the community support each one has engendered.

“The outreach and access mission is still going strong,” Evans said. “Honor the family name. Continue to stay true to our mission.”

Evans introduced recently retired vice president Charles Bird as “the father of the Pickerington Center,” and credited him with the establishment of the physical Center in 2000.

When Bird arrived on the Lancaster Campus in the mid-90s, he soon realized that students from Franklin County accounted for about ten percent of the enrollment. With the Lancaster Campus firmly established offerings courses at Pickerington Central High School, he decided to seek a permanent facility.

“The center has been far more successful than we imagined. It’s been a nice unfolding of the mission,” said Bird.

Offering graduate programs at the center opened it up to new audiences, according to Bird, as have online and blended opportunities for adult learners.

 “The Pickerington Center is on the cutting edge,” he said. “Adult learners are savvy consumers.”

In addition, it is an awareness of what those savvy consumers need that has contributed to the center’s success.

“The Pickerington Center is built on the pride of the citizens of the community,” said Jim Smith, dean of the Lancaster Campus. “Access and affordability are just as important today.”

Smith noted that the center has tremendous opportunity for growth.

“Ohio University is a leader in offering relevant bachelor’s degrees,” he said.

The center and Lancaster Campus will structure efforts around delivery methods.

Leigh Atkinson, center director since its inception, thanked the many local chamber of commerce members, township and village officials, faculty, staff, and students in attendance for their support.