The program will target nontraditional adult students.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Kent State and Ohio universities are pooling their resources and their combined network of 14 campuses to try to bring more higher education options to people throughout eastern Ohio.
The initiative, announced Tuesday by the presidents of both universities, will open the door to degrees from both schools to thousands of students through a region spreading from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.
The program will target nontraditional adult students who want a bachelor's degree to compete for higher-paying jobs.
"Through our combined network of 14 campuses, we can do what other Ohio public universities cannot -- supply higher education and student support to a wide geographic area," KSU President Carol A. Cartwright said.
"The program will jointly develop market-driven programs to be offered throughout the region," said OU President Roderick J. McDavis.
Cartwright and McDavis said both universities are committing to a five-year plan and each institution will invest $1.125 million of current school funds on the pilot project.
The schools could seek additional state support for the partnership in the future, both university presidents said. Some of the partnership's programs are already under way.
Twelve programs offered
The project, dubbed "Complete to Compete," will give students throughout the network access to 12 programs through the two universities including bachelor's degrees in technical and applied studies, nursing, technology and general studies.
The program will include course offerings through online distance learning and other formats and will offer student support services such as advising and counseling at all the affiliated campuses.
Both universities will promote the available programs and co-develop programs and certificates for fast-emerging career fields.
The universities will promote strong ties between the institutions for easy transfer of credits toward program or degree completion.
Officials at both schools say they expect the project to be self-sufficient after five years. Roderick G.W. Chu, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, praised the initiative and said it will help bring higher education to adult learners who may have attended college but never obtained a degree.
Kent State University's main campus in Kent serves more than 23,000 students, and the university has seven branch campuses throughout northeastern and eastern Ohio, including in Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
Ohio University's main campus is in Athens and serves about 28,500. OU has five regional campuses.