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Reading between lines of community college issue

Reading between the lines. Doing so can be dangerous, but often can lead to the truth.

This week, I can't help but pull out my Magic 8-ball (no bald cracks about the author, please) and do a little bit of middle-of-the-line reading for some answers.

This week Ohio University Southern officials announced plans to scale back the long-planned training center Ohio University Southern had planned to build adjacent to The Point industrial park in South Point.

The facility was expected to be a wonderful thing for both Ohio University Southern's students and potential new tenants at The Point.

I believe the theory was: What a better place to house OUS' Center for Leadership and Training than at the county's newest industrial park?

This week as the official plans were changed, all of the parties involved tried to put a positive shine on the matter.

True, financing had been a bit rocky on the training center for some time.

Enter the Magic 8-ball.

Those rocks quickly turned to boulders late last year when Ohio University officials first heard of a proposal to allow the county's Collins Career Center to become the state's newest community college.

Why, the 8-ball seems to say, would OU's main campus want to pump money into a market in which its future may be uncertain, or at least has the potential to change.

Few people have talked publicly about the potential effects of this on Ohio University Southern's mission in Lawrence County, but I suspect it could be serious.

OUS, I suspect like many of the regional campuses of larger universities, provides students with a nearby option for taking freshman and sophomore classes that can transfer to larger universities and also offer associate programs for students not seeking a traditional four-year degree.

So let's assume that Collins becomes a community college. From where will its students come?

A recent study paid for by Collins purports a great number of students are not being served by any of the numerous higher education outlets in and around the Tri-State.

The 8-ball finds that puzzling, especially in what appears to be an area with a greater-than-normal number of college options.

What if the premise that a potential new community college would serve only the new students ultimately was proven incorrect?

If that's the case and a new Collins community college begins pulling students who would currently enroll in OUS, then the outlook for OUS will change - quickly.

Any drastic change in OUS' enrollment will certainly result in the eventual reduction of OUS' staff. Despite what some folks think, the Magic 8-ball knows that tuition plays a significant role of a university's financial stability.

Before the community is changed forever, the Magic 8-Ball hopes - and prays - that the public will have some input in the matter. Just because something is new, doesn't mean it's better. Could Collins Career Center's becoming a community college be good? Maybe. Maybe not. None of us know enough to answer that intelligently yet. But the Magic 8-Ball certainly sees potential problems with the plan.

So are all of the answers created by the Magic 8-Ball just fluff or is there some truth in the floating answers?

Just read between the lines and see for yourself.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445, ext. 12 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@irontontribune.com.