Public-Private Partnership Launches New Regional Academic Center
Kent State University, the second largest public university in Ohio, today marked its continuing commitment to providing students with pathways to affordable and accessible higher education with the groundbreaking of the new Kent State University Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg, Ohio. To better serve the community with additional opportunities for growth, a new 44,000-square-foot, two-story building will be constructed in the heart of Twinsburg, accessible from I-480 off of Route 91.
Kent State President Lester A. Lefton was joined by Kent State University at Geauga Dean David Mohan, Twinsburg Mayor Katherine Procop and other community and university members for the Nov. 18 groundbreaking ceremony. The project, a public-private partnership, highlights regionalism by using a Cleveland developer and a loan from the Akron Port Authority. The project also is estimated to create 720 jobs.
“We have seen a lot of growth at our academic center in Twinsburg, and we see this trend continuing,” Lefton said. “To better serve our existing students and to offer additional programs, we need a new building with state-of-the-art classrooms, technology, science and medical laboratories. Today, we celebrate Kent State’s latest investment in providing high-quality higher education to Northeast Ohio.”
Mohan, who oversees the regional academic center in addition to Kent State Geauga, explained that the current Twinsburg building has many challenges and limitations that are not designed for 21st-century education. “The Twinsburg Academic Center is currently located in a historic building known as ‘The Old School,’ which was built in 1921,” he said. “It has aging infrastructure and mechanical systems. The parking capacity has already been surpassed, and expected enrollments will soon exceed classroom capacity, even with the best scheduling practices.
“The new Regional Academic Center allows us to serve the people we serve better with room to grow,” Mohan continued.
Currently, the academic center serves about 900 students. In the new building, which will be called the Kent State University Regional Academic Center, the university can serve up to 1,500 people.
“One of the primary differences is that in the new building, we’ll offer executive-level education and training,” Mohan said. “We do not offer that now. We’re looking for at least six master’s programs currently offered at the Kent campus to be offered here.”
The new academic center is regionally situated with more than one million citizens within a 30-minute drive. The northern Summit County location attracts a diverse student population, and about 20 percent of its students come from Cuyahoga County, with that number growing each year.
It is also located near new facilities, including a growing number of medically related businesses, making the Regional Academic Center an ideal location to offer nursing, public health and executive training programs and serving a high-volume area for health professionals, in particular. Medical facilities in operation or under construction in the area include the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Health System, Summa Health System, Edgepark Medical Supplies and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio.
In addition, Mohan adds that the Twinsburg facility offers free parking, an affordable education and accessibility. The new location is conveniently located near I-480 and Route 91. It will have 325 parking spots, roughly tripling the parking capacity of its current location.
Once completed, Kent State University Regional Academic Center will offer a full range of programs, from traditional associate and baccalaureate degrees to master’s degrees and executive training programs. The expanded course offering also will include more continuing education, workforce development and job training, as well as community engagement opportunities.
“One of the major features of the academic center is that it’s a transition center for students who start and ended up completing their education at the Kent campus,” Mohan said. “The reason the enrollment has grown so quickly is that our class sizes are relatively low. The highest is 24, and the average is 18, so students get a lot of attention. A lot of these students require that kind of support.”
Kent State’s private partner in this project is Fairmount Properties of Cleveland, the developer of the building. The new facility will be built through a loan from the Akron Port Authority and will take advantage of the federal Build America Bonds program, allowing $1.4 million in cost savings. The university has entered into a 30-year tenant lease agreement. After 30 years, the building becomes university property. Fairmount Properties is responsible for such developments as First & Main in Hudson, Ohio; Brunswick Town Center in Brunswick, Ohio; and University Circle College Town in Cleveland.
Kent State University Regional Academic Center is expected to be completed for the fall 2012 semester.
Kent State Geauga has offered classes in Twinsburg since 1990. That year, the Geauga campus was contacted to offer the first higher education classes in the city of Twinsburg to members of the United Auto Workers employed by the Chrysler Corporation in the Chrysler Stamping Plant. In 1996, classes moved to “The Old School,” the present location of the Twinsburg Academic Center. Course offerings were primarily lower-division classes with a focus on freshman and sophomore levels of instruction. In 2006, program emphasis expanded to include course work toward both associate and baccalaureate degrees. The Associate of Applied Science in nursing was implemented at the Twinsburg Academic Center at the request of Marymount Hospital, an affiliate of the Cleveland Clinic. The academic center provides courses that could be used toward the degree programs offered in the Kent State eight-campus system.
Information about the current Twinsburg Academic Center is available at www.geauga.kent.edu/twinsburgcenter.