The 2014 Commencement Ceremony at Sinclair Community College. STAFF PHOTO

Sinclair graduation today, adding to big year for community college

Sinclair Community College is set to give out a record number of degrees and certificates for its sixth spring commencement in a row, capping an eventful year for the school.

Sinclair expects to award about 5,800 academic credentials to nearly 4,200 graduates this year. More than 1,000 of them will participate in the graduation ceremony at 6 p.m. Sunday in UD Arena. The school’s commencement speaker, Donald MacBeath, is president of Sinclair’s sister school, North Highland College in Thurso, Scotland.

The record number of credentials this year is up from more than 5,000 last year and up from 1,800 in 2005, according to the school.

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“We’re far ahead,” Sinclair President Steve Johnson said. “Even if we’re 200 or 300 short of what that projection is, we’re still setting new records.”

The school will set records for the number of minority, high school and female graduates. The number of degrees and certificates awarded to African-American students at Sinclair has more than doubled over the past five years, going from 331 in 2013 to 707 this spring, according to the school.

The college also will award 40 Associate’s degrees to high school students this year, another record. Around 5,000 high school students are enrolled in Sinclair classes.

Over the past several years, Sinclair has worked to reduce the number of credits toward a degree, redesigned its curriculum and created clear career pathways, said Kathleen Cleary, associate provost of student completion.

“It’s been a mindset shift on the part of the institution,” she said.

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Sinclair’s new record for degrees and certificates caps what has been a big year for the community college.

Just weeks ago, Sinclair closed a deal to buy Far Hills Church in Centerville, which will be converted into a learning center in the coming months. Classes are expected to begin there next spring.

The state in march approved Sinclair for two applied bachelor’s degrees, including one in unmanned aerial systems and another in aviation. The degrees still need approval from a regional accrediting agency.

In the fall, Sinclair opened its new $31.5-million health sciences center on the downtown Dayton campus and voters approved a tax levy renewal with about 74 percent of support.

“About mid-year we said, ‘Wow, this is all really starting to come together,’” Johnson said. “Any one of (the accomplishments) would be respectable. Any three would be incredible.”

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