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Business Officer Magazine

Vantage Point

Spotlight on an institution in one of the constituent groups: small institutions, community colleges, comprehensive/doctoral institutions, or research universities

By Mike Mayher

Center Allows Degree Completion For Those Staying Close to Home

In September 2011, Lakeland Community College, Lake County, Ohio, opened its 41,000-square-foot Holden University Center. This state-of-the-art learning environment allows local students to complete a bachelor or graduate degree in their own backyard.

Lakeland's strategic plan had identified the critical need to partner with a number of nearby four-year universities to offer local students the chance to earn an advanced degree without leaving Lake County. Our board of trustees placed a 1.7 mill continuing replacement levy on the November 2010 ballot, promising voters that should the initiative pass, the university center would be built. The levy did pass, and Lakeland President Morris W. Beverage Jr. moved quickly to keep the college's commitment.

A Meaningful Model

The ambitious project called for a partnership model attractive to institutions that would provide high-quality courses at the center in sought-after degrees. I facilitated a team consisting of college vice presidents and legal counsel, to produce a formal agreement. The academic team played a crucial role in collaborating with our new partners on program articulation and student support.

Under the resulting model, students who complete their first two to three years at Lakeland may take additional prerequisite or bridge courses, and then transfer seamlessly into a Holden University Center partner program. Here, they finish junior- and senior-level undergraduate courses to complete a bachelor's degree-and sometimes a master's degree. 

The courses our four-year partners teach at the center are identical to those offered in degree programs on their respective main campuses. By taking their earlier years' courses at the lower community college tuition rate, students save thousands in earning their degrees. At the same time, university partners save capital, technology, and equipment costs. The partnership agreement spells out the details of shared revenue between Lakeland and the individual university partners.

Initial partnership and degree programs included bachelor's degrees from Cleveland State University (business administration); Kent State University (early childhood education); and Youngstown State University (social work and criminal justice). Lake Erie College offers a master of business administration degree. Additional partners continue to join.

Monetary Metrics

Proceeds from the 1.7 mill continuing replacement levy funded the one-time initial facility and technology investment, and absorbed a portion of noninstructional operating costs during the first four years of operation. Partnership enrollment is well ahead of plan, and we expect the center to cover operating costs after year No. 4.

Development efforts are under way to raise an endowment as well as restricted gifts that will sustain the building's technology and learning environment and provide scholarships. We've raised close to $4 million against our $5 million goal.

We named the Holden University Center in honor of Arlene and Arthur Holden, long-time champions of higher education and Lakeland, and established an endowment fund in their names to ensure programming quality far into the future.

Lakeland Community College
The 41,000-square-foot Holden University Center is the learning facility where four-year university partners offer courses on the Lakeland Community College campus so that students can earn their degrees without leaving the area.

Construction Turns on a Dime

An aggressive schedule and close coordination allowed us to design and build the Holden University Center within 10 months. Among our key steps, we:

  • Established an executive committee that met, along with representational subgroups, at least weekly, with the purpose of achieving all aspects of the project from quality, cost, and speed perspectives.
  • Negotiated and executed a 15-year lease with a developer for a design/build solution, including three five-year options and a right to purchase the facility.
  • Established steady contact with the architectural firm and the classroom furniture source to avoid scheduling delays.

Holden University Center opened with 10 suites for our university partners, along with 18 classrooms, several laboratories, a miniconference area, and a number of collaboration spaces.

In just one year, more than 500 area residents have enrolled at the Holden University Center to complete their degrees. Fall 2012 enrollment increased 62 percent over the prior fall semester. With seven university partners covering 14 degree programs, and more partnerships in the works, we are removing many of the barriers that prevented area residents from obtaining advanced degrees and improving their lives.

SUBMITTED BY Mike Mayher, senior vice president for administrative services and treasurer, Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio

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