By Tim Yovich
A community college is designed to be less expensive to students and takes learning to them.
WARREN — Selling the concept of education being taken to students — rather than students traveling a long distance — is vital for community colleges to exist in the Mahoning Valley, those involved say.
Representatives of the Public Services Institute of Lorain Community College were here Tuesday to brief city officials about ongoing efforts.
Details of how and where a community college would operate will be in place by the fall of 2009, said Shara Davis, institute director.
“The idea is to bring education to them,” said Marquez L. Brown, the institute’s public policy coordinator.
The Valley is the only metropolitan area of Ohio not served by a community college. Eric Fingerhut, Ohio’s Chancellor of Higher Education, has said the creation of a two-year school is part of his 10-year Strategic Plan for Higher Education.
In Trumbull County, 6.5 percent of the population age 25 and over have an associate degree, compared with the state average of 7.5 percent. In Mahoning County, 5.6 percent of the population over age 25 have such a degree.
Lorain Community College has been selected by Fingerhut to facilitate the concept of a community college in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. An “engagement committee” comprised of educators, business and professional people from the three counties has been working out the details.
Davis explained that community colleges are more affordable than traditional colleges and universities with four-year baccalaureate degree programs, because they don’t need a campus and draw on local resources such as high school teachers as instructors.
Brown said for a community college to succeed, it’s imperative to grasp the idea of classes going to where students are.
The location might be a cafe or a building in a neighborhood, Brown explained, noting she and institute representatives looked at some possible locations in the downtown.
He noted that community colleges can partner with companies to train people to work jobs for specific companies.
Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at-large, said she would like neighborhood groups to foster the grassroots effort. Also, a speakers’ bureau should be established “to prepare ourselves for this endeavor.”
The plan calls for the use of facilities at Youngstown State University, the three Kent State University branch campuses in Trumbull and Columbiana counties, high school technical and career centers in the three counties, and Choffin Career and Technical Center in Youngstown.
In this way, those in technical and career centers can receive college credit for their studies, Davis said.