Saturday, October 05, 2002

Warren County, UC explore partnership

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A partnership between the University of Cincinnati and Warren County to bring more extensive higher education opportunities to the area is intensifying.

        Although the university has offered classes for years in Warren County, residents can't complete their degrees there. About 25 classes in 13 subject areas are offered to 150 students per year.

        There have been informal discussions for more than a year about how to increase availability, but an endorsement this week by UC's Board of Trustees paves the way for formal talks to begin between the university and the Warren County Area Progress Council.

        The Warren County College Task Force, a committee of the progress council, is leading the effort. Members plan to meet with UC officials Oct. 22 to discuss ways to match the county's needs with the college's resources.

        “The committee has been leaning in the community college direction because of the low tuition, night and weekend class availability and employee training,” said Mike Geygan, the committee chairman.

        “Now it will be up to UC. They said they'd work with us to build a new model of higher education. After we meet we'll see if they can actually do that.”

        The initiative is twofold. The university hopes to expand its current offerings in the short-term. The two groups are expected to explore the possibility of a joint-use facility in which the Warren County Career Center would be expanded. Another option for that joint-use space is one of two vacated elementary schools.

        The second part of the initiative is about the long-range approach to higher education in the county, which could include two- and four-year degree offerings. At upcoming meetings, officials from UC and the progress council are expected to brainstorm what might be included.

        A year ago, county, business and education officials invited colleges and universities to discuss the demand for college classes in the area. UC is now stepping forward to become part of a formal strategic plan.

        “We've been out there for a while,” said UC spokesman Greg Hand. “What we're doing now is moving into step two.”


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