Clark State College celebrates decades of commitment to education

Clark State College continues to celebrate its 60th anniversary by commemorating past, present and future endeavors with students, employees, the community and business partners.

“As we move into the second half of our year-long 60 th anniversary celebration, we look forward to commemorating the accomplishments of Clark State’s past, present and future,” says Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Clark State is an ever-present resource for those looking to obtain a certificate or degree, or further their career with workforce skills training.

Clark State is proud to be a community partner with many businesses that look to our faculty, staff and graduates to fill workforce needs in the area. There is much to be celebrated.”

Throughout Clark State’s 60 years, the college has received numerous accolades for its achievements in diversity, equity and inclusion, workforce development, community partnerships and outreach, and educational milestones. The economic impact of Clark State on Champaign, Clark, Greene and Logan counties is in excess of $161 million dollars annually.

The original Clark County Technical Institute became Ohio’s first technical college to be sanctioned by the Ohio Board of Regents, the name changed from Clark County Technical Institute to Clark Technical College by action of the Ohio Board of Regents on February 17, 1972.

The charter changed from Clark Technical College to Clark State Community College on June 17, 1988, and the college began offering Associate of Arts and Associate of Science transfer degrees that same year.

With the addition of three bachelor’s degrees now available at Clark State, the Board of Trustees voted in 2018 to change the name of the institution to encompass the advancements in educational opportunities made by the college. On January 1, 2021, Clark State Community College became Clark State College.

While Clark State’s mission remains the same: to engage and empower diverse learners by providing high-quality educational programs and services that emphasize student and community success, the College will continue to keep striving forward.

Ohio State Representative Kyle Koehler says as Clark State turns 60 this year, he continues to be amazed at its ability to change and adapt to shifts in Workforce Development over the last six decades.

“Whether it is in healthcare, manufacturing, cyber security or by creating TechCred programs that take less than a year to turn out much needed and trained employees, Clark State is meeting the needs of Ohio and especially the changes happening right here in Clark County,” he says.
 
Koehler, vice president of K.K. Tool in Springfield, also says that as a manufacturer, he knows the methods that were innovative in 1990, 2000 and even 2010 are now outdated. 

“Just as manufacturing, healthcare and businesses change, higher education must change as well,” says Koehler. “We can’t just be good at one thing anymore. Colleges are no different. In its 60 th year, Clark State continues to change with the needs of employers and the workforce for 2021 and beyond.”
 
Koehler says that most importantly, Clark State continues to lead in helping those students who come from families that have never had a college graduate in their family. 
 
“Clark State is changing the dynamics of workforce training, business development and the future of families in our community,” he says.

The Abilities Connection (TAC) is one of Clark State’s many business partners. TAC recently relocated its restaurant – Fresh Abilities – to the Eagle’s Nest on Clark State’s main campus.

Also, in July the first cohort of students will enter the PAES Lab: a hands-on, performance-based vocational assessment for students in Clark County with disabilities and other barriers. The PAES Lab was purchased by Quest Inc., a supporting corporation with Developmental Disabilities of Clark County.

“TAC is so happy with our growing partnership with Clark State,” says Bridget Doane, manager of commercial enterprises at TAC. “Our missions are aligned, as we both help people meet their goals and reach their full potential through training and workforce development programs. We knew that both of our organizations could support one another and enhance the services we are each able to offer the people with whom we work.”

Doane says one of the greatest benefits TAC believes will come from the partnership is the opportunity for the people with disabilities to have experiences on the Clark State campus.

“Whether that be in Fresh Abilities training, participating in the PAES Lab, or other
opportunities yet to come, this allows them to become more comfortable and confident on a college campus,” she says. “They may even consider taking higher education classes in the future.”

Doane says many people who receive services at TAC may never have felt that taking classes in college would ever be a possibility for them.

“These opportunities now available at Clark State gives them exposure to what being on a college campus is like,” she says. “Clark State’s team is incredibly helpful. They are always open to ideas we have and rather than reacting with hesitation, they always respond with ‘Let’s see how we can make that happen.’ Not only are they great partners themselves, they have opened the doors to other partnership opportunities with other community businesses and organizations.”

A history committee has been appointed and is working to publish a book marking the College’s growth and achievements. Clark State College: 60 Years of Academic and Community Success is expected to be available in December of this year.

“The text is a timeline of major events in Clark State's history, from the founding of the college in 1962-Present,” says Dr. Melinda Mohler, professor of history at Clark State.

While the 60th Anniversary Celebration commemorates past accomplishments at the College, it also highlights the future of Clark State.

“The communities that we serve continue to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the founding of Clark State College, and while our history is significant, a focus on our future is essential,” says Blondin. “Clark State has worked diligently to keep a ‘laser focus on the students we serve,’ and we are doing this through the recognition that the future of higher education in general is largely dependent upon the future of work and training a skilled workforce.”

Blondin says predictions and forecasts about the future of work are omnipresent in the news.

“Clark State will play a role in this futuristic workforce, whether through manufacturing or training technicians,” she says. “Stories of ‘flying cars,’ and self-driving trucks are frequent, along with virtual reality, the need for cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. These concepts are not just stories in the news from places far away from the Miami Valley: these technologies have been part of this region’s innovation for decades.”

Clark State will sponsor the upcoming National Advanced Air Mobility Industry Forum on August 22 and 23 at Clark State’s Hollenbeck-Bayley Conference Center and recognizes that it will take multiple higher education and industry partners to ensure the growth of this emerging industry.

“We stand at the ready to respond to these collaborative opportunities,” says Blondin.

Blondin also says many across Ohio are talking about Intel, and the many workforce opportunities provided by this once in a lifetime, economic development game changer for Ohio.

“Clark State is collaborating with the Ohio Association of Community Colleges and other partners to ensure that we have the appropriate programs aligned to meet these growing workforce needs and recruit diverse talent from across the state,” she says. Intel is slated to open two factories in Ohio in 2025. The development of Intel marks Ohio’s largest economic investment in the history of the state.

Blondin, who entered her tenth year at Clark State this summer, says she is profoundly grateful to so many who have made the vision for access to and success in higher education possible.

“I am particularly thankful of the 57 trustees who have served Clark State since its inception, and am proud of their transformational leadership as we move into Clark State’s next phase of workforce and community responsiveness,” she says.

Read more articles by Darci Jordan.