Ribbon cut for higher education partnership
Providing more opportunities for students to build the workforce in the area was the driving force behind a new partnership between the Ohio Strategic Training Center, Ohio University Southern, the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, Shawnee State University and Southern State Community College.
A ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning at The Point, home of the new Higher Education Regional Partnership and Training Center (RPTC), marked the achievement.
Proposed by Ohio University, the purpose of the RPTC is to bring the needed technical degree and training programs to Lawrence County and the region. It does that by providing a space for any Ohio institution of higher education to offer degree programs and training that aren’t available through OUS.
The partnership is modeled after a partnership program at Lorain County Community College, which includes Ohio University, Youngstown State, Kent State, Cleveland State, Toledo State and Hiram College.
“We know that this partnership can fill the void of needed technical training opportunities here in Lawrence County,” Nicole Pennington, Dean of Ohio University Southern, said. “While Ohio University Southern offers more than 30 degree and certificate programs, this partnership is going to allow for additional technical training opportunities so that we can best meet workforce needs.”
During the spring of last year, the Ohio Strategic Training Center and the regional campuses of Ohio University conducted a regional occupational analysis in order to identify target industries, related occupations and the necessary skills needed for those.
“For our region, the target industries identified were health care, logistics, manufacturing and safety and security,” Pennington said. “Our goal is to identify and implement programming based on what the need is. Understanding that not all technical programming needs can be met by Ohio University Southern, this partnership can provide that.”
The RPTC will work by having students enroll at the site with the community college or institution of their choice offering the course or program. OUS will then work in conjunction with that institution by providing admission, registration, advising and financial aid support. Once a program or course is completed, students will have the option to pursue a baccalaureate degree at OUS. General education courses provided by OUS will be available at the location as well.
Also speaking at the ribbon cutting were Dan Jeffries, board chair of the Ohio Strategic Learning Center, Dan Evans, vice provost of Ohio University, Scott Howard, executive director of the Ohio Strategic Training Center, Alan Walker, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Shawnee State University, Kevin Boys, president of Southern State Community College, Michelle Johnston, president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, Cheryl Hay, deputy chancellor of the Higher Education Workforce Alignment of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, Taylor Stepp represnting Rep. Ryan Smith (R-93), William Lloyd representing U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson, Todd Shelton representing U.S. Senator Rob Portman, Senator Joe Uecker (R-14) and Senator Bob Peterson (R-17).
“I’m excited as a legislator to help grow this area. Part of the challenge to growing jobs in any part of Ohio is making sure you have a qualified workforce,” Senator Peterson said. “If you have a great workforce, people want to show up to work, do the job and be effective. Sometimes they don’t have the skills, but facilities like this will allow them to develop the skills and be successful… It’s great that we have this facility to allow people to develop their skills and become better employees and more employable to help economic growth in the area.”