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New community college off to good start in Valley

Published: Sun, September 27, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

While a faith-based grass-roots organization is to be commended for pushing the idea of a central campus for the new Eastern Gateway Community College that has been created to serve the Mahoning Valley, the reality is that it will be many years before such a concept takes root.

Indeed, Ohio’s chancellor of higher education, Eric Fingerhut, the architect of the multi-county two-year institution, made it clear from the outset that a central campus was not a priority. In fact, Fingerhut told The Vindicator last year that it would be at least 10 years before a single location could be established. There are several reasons for this: First, the new college must build up its enrollment so tuition becomes a key source of revenue; second, the four counties that were brought together to form Eastern Gateway, Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Jefferson, would have to all agree on the location; third, Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties would have to pass a levy dedicated to the community college — just as the voters of Jefferson County did in 1966 when they approved a one-mill levy for what began as Jefferson County Technical Institute.

Today, Jefferson Community College provides associate degrees for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. While Jefferson is now part of Eastern Gateway, it has 1,880 students, while enrollment from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties total about 170.


ACTION, the faith-based organization advocating a central campus, should focus its energies on helping the new institution increase enrollment and should figure out how to sell the idea of a community college levy in the tri-county area.

While the notion of a college without walls, which is what Eastern Gateway is by virtue of courses being offered in several locations in and out of the Mahoning Valley, may be difficult to comprehend at first blush, it does make sense.

As Gov. Ted Strickland and Chancellor Fingerhut have noted, the goal is to make higher education accessible to the largest number of people in the Valley as possible.

The community college, which has established a headquarters with some classroom space at Northside Medical Center on Gypsy Lane, opened this fall offering 180 classes leading to 11 associate degrees and six certificate programs.

One of the key educational offerings is an accelerated LPN-RN nursing program at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and the Trumbull Career and Technical Center.

At the recent formal opening of Eastern Gateway Community College attended by Strickland, Fingerhut, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and others, Brenda Brady of North Bloomfield, a licensed practical nurse enrolled in the LPN-RN program, echoed the sentiments of many Valley residents when she said, “You’re giving me a legacy. You’re giving me a dream.”

That’s a pretty good start.


1jwalker1689(1 comment)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

The Vindy makes some good points regarding the levy issue however it failed to point out that the State of Ohio is investing in buildings for community colleges. Cuyahoga Community College is receiving $9.7 million dollars for a Healthcare Technology building, was this levy money or tax dollars?

When Gov. Strickland and Chancellor Fingerhut say they are “...investing in people not buildings…,” what they really mean is that they are investing in People in the Mahoning Valley and buildings in other parts of the State.

The Mahoning Valley is one of the most economically devastated areas of Ohio currently lacking an affordable educational option for low to moderate income students living in poverty.

89% of Youngstown City School children live in poverty while the number is 75% for Warren City School children.

With an economic landscape such as this and the Governor touting education as the means to overcome our current economic situation it only stands to reason that there be a real effort to provide the Mahoning Valley with what other urban areas of the State already have, a Community College with a Centralized Campus.

Currently there are plans to build a maintenance shed on the Lima campus of Ohio State University, price tag, $2 Million dollars; is this the Governor’s idea of an educational investment?

Was this levy money or tax dollars? If it is tax dollars I ask the Governor and Chancellor to invest in our future, the Children of the Mahoning Valley and re-appropriate these funds to Eastern Gateway Community College to procure a centralized campus.

James E. Walker
Comprehensive Community College /
Jobs Committee

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2news38(9 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Cuyahoga County has a record of providing hundreds of millions of dollars of local tax levy money over more than 40 years to its community college system. The system has major campus facilities throughout the county. This dedicated local effort has been recognized by the state which has resulted in state building funds being made available to make additions to accomodate active ongoing programs and expand others.

Constructing a 2million dollar maintenance building on the OSU Lima campus should not be looked at automatically as some kind of extravagance unrelated to the educational mission of the Lima campus. A maintenance facility might not sound flashy particularly when we would rather have the money for our local area. Lima may well look jealously at some of the buildings built with state money at YSU in Youngstown.

Rather than attack the mission of other established programs that have proven their dedication to the community college concept we should proceed with developing viable programs close to where the demand develops. There may well be sufficient existing physical facilities available to get a good start.

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