The new partnerships mean easier access to YSU graduate programs for students from two colleges.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Thurston Melson wants to work for the Environmental Protection Agency -- or "anything dealing with Mother Nature."
The first-year graduate student at Youngstown State University hopes pursuing a master's degree in environmental studies will help him achieve that goal.
Melson, of Dayton, is the first student recruited to YSU through a new collaboration between YSU and Central State University in Cleveland, a college with a history of focusing on black students.
The partnership means Melson, who earned his bachelor's degree at Central State, was awarded a YSU graduate assistantship job that pays his tuition as a fringe benefit.
"It's just a blessing to be here," said Melson, 22, who is black. " ... I didn't want to settle for less. I wanted to pursue my education and keep the ball rolling."
The partnership between Central State and YSU was announced at a press conference Wednesday during which administrators from both schools signed documents making the program official.
"Graduate degree attainment for students of color in America is in serious need," said Dr. Tony Atwater, YSU's provost and vice president for academic affairs. "This is one step YSU is making to address that need."
Also Wednesday, YSU officials signed documents solidifying a similar program with Thiel College, a private college in Greenville, Pa., in Mercer County. Dr. Peter Kasvinsky, dean of graduate studies at YSU, said these are the first agreements of their kind at YSU's graduate school.
In the Thiel program, students who work as resident hall directors there are enrolled at YSU in a master's of science in education program in counseling. Five students -- four Thiel graduates -- are in the program. Their tuition is paid by YSU, and they receive a stipend from Thiel.
"Students score big time," Kasvinsky said, referring to both programs. "And so do all of us. These are win-win situations."
Dr. Lance A. Masters, Thiel president and chief executive officer, said the agreement comes when the economy and state budgets are uncertain.
"The only way we can thrive, the only way we can, perhaps, exist is to forge partnerships," he said. " ... To do that, we have to first think of each other. In every case, we've looked at what we can do for our students."
Dr. John W. Garland, Central State president, said the partnership helps the university continue its philosophy of helping black students to achieve.