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Kent State University and Ohio University forge historic outreach partnership

ATHENS, Ohio (March 14, 2006) -- Two of Ohio's public universities will leverage their wide network of campuses, bringing higher education and workforce development to thousands of adult learners throughout eastern Ohio.

Click to watch videoThrough the "Complete to Compete" (SM) collaboration, Kent State University and Ohio University become the first public universities in Ohio to link outreach and regional campuses as presidential initiatives, designed to increase educational levels and support Ohio's ability to compete in the global economy. Degree completion is the key to being competitive in the 21st century workforce.

Together, Ohio and Kent State have 14 campuses - 12 of them regional or branch campuses, more than half of the state's total. The campuses stretch from Ashtabula County in the northeast to Lawrence County in the south, and include under-served urban, rural and Appalachian areas. The two universities already serve about 20,000 students each term on their regional campuses, in addition to the more than 40,000 students on the residential campuses in Kent and Athens.

"This unique collaboration again affirms the historical regional mission of each institution, Kent State in the northeast, Ohio in the southeast," said Kent State President Carol A. Cartwright. "Our immediate focus will be access for adult learners with some college who want to complete a four-year degree. The partnership also will work closely with civic and community groups in eastern Ohio to assess local program needs."

Photo by Rick Fatica"Our research shows that about 450,000 people in 33 counties could take initial advantage of this project," said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis. "By expanding our regional outreach and economic development efforts, we are complementing other initiatives in place to support our mission of extending learning opportunities to under-served populations and remaining a center of learning in our regions."

Each institution committed to a five-year plan, investing $1.125 million each in the first three years. The presidents said they will seek additional state support for the initiative. The partnership is expected to be self-sufficient after five years. By fall term of the fourth year an estimated 5,000 new enrollments should be in the baccalaureate pipeline.

Under the partnership:

  • The two universities have a total of 12 degree programs available, and will jointly develop other market-driven programs, as well as explore collaborative niche master's degrees.
  • Course offerings will create maximum flexibility for students through online, distance learning and other formats, and will have student support services (advising, counseling) at all the campuses. This personal encouragement and support for students is an important feature beyond program offerings and is possible only because of the two universities' regional campus network. The partnership also will be capable of serving statewide needs for degree completion through distance learning collaborations with other higher education institutions.
  • A central feature will be joint market research and program promotion.
  • The universities will co-develop programs and certificates for emerging markets and career fields that can be combined into course credits at either institution, working through their existing program development processes. National guidelines will be used to give course credit for work experience.
  • The initiative will include stronger ties between the universities to provide seamless transfer of credits within the shared programs and maximum efficiency for degree completion.

An administrative unit, the Ohio-Kent State Partnership Office, will include a board of directors, co-chaired by Kent State's Vice President for Regional Development, Dr. Patricia Book, and Ohio University's Vice President for University Outreach and Regional Campuses, Dr. Charles Bird.

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Media Contact: Ohio University Media Specialist Jack Jeffrey, (740) 597-1793 or jeffreyj@ohio.edu, or Kent State Executive Director of University Communications Ron Kirksey, (330) 672-8525 or rkirksey@kent.edu

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