Eric Schellentrager and Cody Herron look over their welds in the Welding Lab. Bill Lackey/Staff

Clark State plan to offer Bachelor’s degree in manufacturing deferred

The Ohio Department of Higher Education deferred this week Clark State Community College’s plan to offer its first bachelor’s degree, giving it 90 days to revise its proposal.

Clark State’s current proposal might be too similar to existing degrees at other schools, Ohio Department of Higher Education Communication Director Jeff Robinson said, and the department has asked Clark State to review it. .

The community college wants to offer a baccalaureate degree in manufacturing technology management but the state has asked the school to re-evaluate the program to see if it’s unique.

One school that says the proposal is too similar to an already existing degree is Central State, according to online testimony posted by its Provost Pedro Martinez.

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“In the case of new programs, these are all things that are going to receive state funding and we need to make sure state dollars are being used efficiently,” Robinson said.

Clark State will work with the Ohio Department of Higher Education to answer questions and resubmit its application, Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said.

The community college is focused on meeting the needs of local employers, Blondin said.

“Clark State is working with our university partners on identifying the curriculum that works best for our incumbent workers in manufacturing,” she said.

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The manufacturing technology degree sought to educate students in both manufacturing and management skills and lead them into management positions upon graduation, according to the school’s proposal submitted to the state. The program received support from several Springfield employers, including McGregor Metalworking Companies and Heroux Devtek Springfield.

The approval process for new degrees included a public comment period late last year. During the comment section, Martinez posted that the school opposed granting the Clark State degree program.

“Central State University does not recommend Clark State’s proposal to offer a bachelor degree in manufacturing technology management,” Martinez wrote. “Central State offers a bachelor of science degree in industrial technology.”

Martinez couldn’t be reached by the Springfield News-Sun for comment on Wednesday.

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“The industrial technology program at Central State is available to serve the needs of the region and fill any gaps in manufacturing skills,” Martinez wrote. “In fact, Central State entered into an articulation agreement with Clark State in 2012 to offer a pathway for their graduates with an associate of applied science degree in manufacturing technology to a bachelor of science degree in industrial technology over a two-year period.”

Because the schools work closely together, Martinez said in the public comments, no need exists for the new program at Clark State.

“Clark State’s proposal would cause direct duplication of this program and competition instead of collaboration,” he wrote.

Comments also were submitted on the Ohio Department of Higher Education website by people who are concerned about giving community colleges bachelor degree programs.

“Both Clark State and Central State share the goal of serving the employers in our region by developing a strong workforce that stays in the region to grow our economy and communities,” Blondin said.

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