University Of Akron And Stark State College Make A Direct Connection
Stark State College of North Canton opened an Akron campus this fall, just one half mile from the University of Akron. Rather than compete with its neighbor the community college is collaborating. Officials of the two schools announced Friday they are offering dual enrollment for their students in a program called Direct Connect.
Stark State president Para Jones says many of their students say their ultimate goal is to transfer to the University of Akron to obtain a bachelor’s degree. And now the path will be much more clear.
Under the new Direct Connect partnership, Stark students can apply to Akron without paying a fee and, once accepted, they’ll be able to use Akron advisors and other UA assets starting their first day at Stark State.
University of Akron interim president John Green says the collaboration will help by creating a “pipeline” of Stark State students to UA “to move people into associate degrees and then into bachelor’s degrees. And for many students that path is very valuable, not the least because they can get a job with an associate degree and help pay for their bachelor’s degree.”
University of Akron interim president John Green and Stark State president Para Jones sign collaboration agreement [Mark Urycki / ideastream]
Green says the agreement means there will be less need for some his school’s two-year programs at UA’s College of Applied Science and Technology.
“There will have to be a transition. There are some of our associate degrees that we shouldn’t offer anymore,” said Green. “In fact, in our program review we’re phasing them out because Stark State can offer those degrees much better than the University of Akron can. So it’s really about using our collective educational resources much more efficiently.”
Green says, in the end, both schools should see an increase in enrollment and Akron will end up with a more skilled workforce. And that’s why the president of the Akron Chamber of Commerce and the Akron mayor came to support the effort.
Mayor Dan Horrigan talked about the city’s skills gap but said having a research university like UA is an important step toward fixing the problem.
“I don’t think you can have too much talent on the bench,” said Horrigan. “I don’t think you can ever have too many universities in a community.”
The new Stark State College building on Perkins St. in Akron is just one half mile from the UA campus. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]
With dual enrollment Akron students may also decide to take their general education courses at the community college to save money.
“I’m not afraid of it at all,” said Green. “I’d much rather have students in the right educational environment because in the end that benefits all of us. What Stark State does it does very, very well. And this allows the University of Akron to do what it does very, very well.”
Jones says Stark State’s new Akron building houses about 1600 students with a capacity to reach 3500. Enrollment at the University of Akron is over 20,000.