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Clark State, Central State reach deal

Students will have options at both schools as part of increased focus on graduation, jobs.

Central State, Clark State create ‘seamless path’ to degree

Clark State Community College and Central State University will allow their students to use one another’s resources to travel what the colleges called a “seamless pathway” to a bachelor’s degree.

Clark State President Karen Rafinski and Central State President Cynthia Hammond Jackson on Friday signed a memorandum of agreement at Central State’s McLin Hall at what Central State Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Patrick Liverpool called “a pivotal time” for Ohio colleges.

With the state’s public higher education system focused on increasing graduation rates, he said, there is strong evidence that students who transfer from a two-year to four-year program have “a high propensity to complete their college educations.”

The agreement creates two pathways.

The Baccalaureate Completion program allows students entering Clark State intending to continue at Central State dual enrollment immediately, then allows them to transfer to Central State as upper classmen after completing 60 credit hours.

The College Readiness pathway allows students who are accepted at Central State but who need remedial courses to prepare them for college level instruction to get that at Clark State.

Rafinski said this arrangement will allow Central State to focus on its college level programs and Clark State to fulfill its role of taking students “where they are to where they need to be” in relation to college-level courses.

She added that such steps will make a state system envisioned that way “to begin to look system-like” in practice.

Rafinski said pairing with Central State also will allow Clark State to better serve its 15 percent minority population by connecting with a historically black school.

Hammond said that while Central State does offer “a special sense of connectedness” to black students, “part of our mission is to have accessibility to all students of good will.”

She said that clearly would include all Clark State students, including “the returning veteran, the housewife who wants to go back to school” and other non-traditional students of any race.

Together, Rafinksi said, they can serve an increasing number of students who are “going to school in between life,” rather than taking years out of their life to go to school.

Both presidents thanked administrators and faculty who have been working toward the agreement, which Hammond called “just a beginning.”

“The road between Clark State and Central state’s getting shorter and shorter,” she said, but it will take more work until “the seamless transition will be truly seamless.”

The ultimate goal, she said, is to produce college-educated students who can contribute to Ohio’s economy.

Speakers from both colleges joked about difficulties the institutions have had working out the arrangement during a period in which Central State had five provosts in as many years.

Liverpool promised that “this time around there is a determination, there is an intentionality, there is a strong commitment that Central State will be visible on your three campuses.”

In addition to its presence in Springfield, Clark State has campuses in Bellefontaine and in Beavercreek, its fastest-growing location.

Central State has an enrollment of about 2,100 students and a graduation rate of 19 percent. Clark state has about 5,600 active students who, on average, take five years to complete what a full-time student might complete in two years.

“The Chronicle of Higher Education” reports that 52.9 percent of Ohio’s public college students graduate within six years of entering. The percentage is 55.4 for whites and 31.1 percent for blacks. All lag behind national rates of 56, 58.9 and 38.3 percent, respectively.

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