- By Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
Clark State Community College got the go-ahead to develop its first four-year degree for next year’s Spring semester.
The college had proposed offering a baccalaureate degree in Manufacturing Technology Management. But members of the Ohio Department of Education asked Clark State to revise its proposal due to concerns their proposal might be too similar to existing degrees at other schools.
Clark State said the degree will be available for students in Spring 2019.
“Clark State is appreciative of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s further review and analysis of our proposed program,” said Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “The additional time strengthened our application to ODHE. I am grateful for the hard work and leadership of Aimee Belanger-Haas and Clark State faculty to bring this to fruition. Clark State continues to hear from our regional industry partners about their interest in this program and how they hope this program is available to train their workers.”
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Central State was one area university that had raised concern that Clark State’s original proposal was similar to an existing program in the region, according to online testimony provided by staff at that institution.
Now that the degree has received approval, it will allow Clark State to begin providing additional training to the region’s manufacturing workforce. The program is a blend of manufacturing skills and management coursework, said Belanger-Haas, dean of business and applied technology for Clark State.
“It’s a great need in our community right now,” said Belanger-Haas. “A lot of our manufacturing has been low-skilled. People are retiring and there’s a need to upskill our incumbent workers in that position.”
She said Clark State worked closely with area manufacturing firms to develop the curriculum.
Clark State was awarded a $2.5 million grant in 2014 from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program. That allowed Clark State to provide training for entry-level technicians in the region, Belanger-Haas said.
The four-year degree will provide additional options to local companies like Cascade and the Hall company that want more training for mid-level employees.
She said there’s already plenty of interest int he program and the college will likely look to hire some additional faculty for the program.
“Our employers, when we submitted the application have committed to sending around 100 employees in the first few years of the program so there’s a lot of interest already,” Belanger-Haas said.