EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a three-part series on the creation and ongoing impact of community colleges in northeast Ohio.
It’s never too early to look to the future.
And for Lakeland Community College and Cuyahoga Community College, the future is now.
With both institutions experiencing significant growth across the board since their inception in the 1960s, operations stemming from past and present challenges and successes continue to transform to fit the students of tomorrow.
“We initiate changes that are established – we did then, and the school does now,” said Wayne Rodehorst, founding president of Lakeland. “Again, the details are always changing, but the function of serving people hasn’t changed.”
The Lakeland Board of Trustees recently approved the college’s strategic plan for 2022-2024.
According to officials, the priorities are:
• Student experience: continue to provide and continuously assess the effectiveness of holistic support services designed to enable all students to access an affordable, quality education in support of their educational and career goals
• Academic Success: Strengthen academic pathways and ease barriers to completion to help more students succeed and graduate
• Workforce development: ensuring that university programs match the needs of employers in order to prepare more qualified graduates to maintain the strength of our local workforce and economy
• Community Stewardship: to build brand reputation, strategic partnerships and financial resources to meet student needs and improve quality of life in the community
Recovery of registrations
Despite the continued decline in the number of high school graduates, enrollment in Lakeland has recovered. Fall 2021 enrollment was down just 9%, compared to 18% in the spring semester of the year.
Spring 2022 enrollment was down 4.8%, improving from a 15% drop in Spring 2021.
Early enrollment numbers for fall 2022 are also up from last year, with adult learners expected to account for most of Ohio’s enrollment growth. Additionally, Lakeland recently received a grant from the Cleveland Foundation’s Fenn Educational Fund to establish a career mentorship program for adult learners, officials confirmed.
Lakeland is currently participating in Ohio’s Second Chance Grant Pilot Program to award grants of up to $2,000 to reduce financial barriers that may prevent some students from returning to college, and the new College Comeback Program forgives outstanding balances up to $1,500 so students who have dropped out can re-enroll for a diploma or certificate.
Additionally, Lakeland is one of eight community colleges and public universities in Northeast Ohio in the College Comeback (Stranded Credits) Compact with the nonprofit Ithaka S+R to pilot a sustainable solution to settle student debt and release blocked credits.
Going forward, the school plans to launch a Digital Print Production Certificate and a Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Certificate in Geospatial Technology in FY2023, in addition to diploma programs and to a certificate in industrial engineering, including logistics and supply chain management during the fiscal year. 2024.
Lakeland will also continue to engage employers in identifying industry trends and ensuring skills training meets workforce needs, through direct outreach, focus groups and university advisory boards.
A recent expansion and renovation of the Health Technology Building “allows Lakeland to remain an important center for learning and professional training.”
With studies predicting a shortage of nurses as the population ages, the college can enroll and graduate more well-educated nurses, officials said.
A new certificate and degree pathway, for College Credit Plus students who do not intend to transfer to a four-year college, is also being created, and Lakeland will award a $100 grant. $000 to the Ohio Department of Higher Education STEM Public-Private Partnership Pilot Program for CCP students completing certificates in Computer Science and Computer Science.
Additionally, short-term certificate program grants, totaling nearly $190,000, will be awarded to students enrolled in one of Lakeland’s nine programs that can be completed in less than a year.
Other Planned Improvements
Lakeland plans to renovate and expand its engineering building, along with upgraded equipment and technology, to meet significant current and future resource commitments for manufacturing workforce development. technology, construction management and applied engineering.
Design efforts are underway and construction is expected over the next three years. The project will be funded by state and federal grants.
The college also plans to renovate teaching spaces and student teaching and support spaces, primarily in Building A, while continuing its energy management and conservation program.
This fall, a new college-level Lakers esports team is launched to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Esports League.
Esports will become the eighth organized sport – and only mixed sport – to be offered by Lakeland. In addition to being a varsity sport, there are plans to create an intramural club on campus, and construction of an esports “arena” is in the final stages for use by both the varsity team and the intramural club, officials said.
Tri-C — New Direction
Michael Baston, Tri-C’s fifth president, began his term on July 1.
A key part of his vision is to help Cuyahoga County residents move from economic fragility to economic mobility.
Under Baston’s leadership, Tri-C will focus on workforce innovation, breaking down barriers, meeting people where they are, and providing training opportunities that fit their lives.
“As our country faces talent shortages with record numbers of baby boomer retirements, prime-age workers quitting, and the lowest birthrates in the history of our country, we know how vital increasingly vital colleges like Tri-C will be to the future of the state and region in developing the talented citizens we will need to thrive as a community,” Baston said.
“We have placed more emphasis on developing the skills of our students and understanding the needs of employers,” he added. “We want to make sure that we provide real-world work opportunities for our students.”
An adapted approach
Baston believes that for Tri-C to succeed in a post-pandemic world, it needs to “let go of the idea of returning to the world of higher education as before the crisis by expanding virtual services, improving career paths for respond to an ever-changing labor market”. and refocus attention on equity.
Aligning non-degree and degree programs, he stressed, reaching the adult market with greater supply and programmatic flexibility, and expanding online and international opportunities will continue.
“Not only do we have to deal with the lasting implications and impacts of COVID-19, economic uncertainty, equal justice and opportunity issues, but we also have to deal with the realities of how the demographic drought and great resignation have and will continue to impact the economic landscape in big cities and small towns across America,” Baston said.
“Important institutions like Tri-C must lead the way in modeling how other community colleges can be catalysts for economic mobility, workforce innovation, and community vitality.