Niche baccalaureates grow at neighboring Ohio colleges

The manufacturing technology management baccalaureate program at Clark State College uses a cohort model with synchronous and asynchronous meetings with faculty to provide flexibility for students. One faculty member has held office hours at 11 p.m. because that is when students finish their work shifts. (Photo: Clark State)

Clark State College and Sinclair Community College, which are located in contiguous service areas in western Ohio, have established baccalaureate programs built on the strengths of their associate-degree programs.

Academic leaders of the two colleges say they are collaborating to serve their students and address local workforce needs.

Tiffany E. Hunter, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Clark State in Springfield explained that she and Kathleen Cleary, interim provost and senior vice president at Sinclair in Dayton talk frequently about what they are doing and how they can work together.

“We don’t see it as a competition because none of the bachelor’s degrees that we have are the ones that they are wanting to offer or are offering. We’re making sure we’re not doing that,” Hunter said.

Making it work

Clark State offers applied baccalaureates in manufacturing technology management (from which the first cohort of six students graduated in spring 2020) and web design and development. Both of the programs were designed for students who want low-cost, bachelor’s degree programs close to their homes. Manufacturing technology management currently has 30 students; web design has 17 students.

Interestingly, the addiction and integrated treatment studies degree, which the Ohio Department of Higher Education recently approved for Clark to offer beginning in 2022, may attract students from outside the region as well as meeting local needs for assisting people living with addictions. The new degree builds on Clark’s associate degrees in addiction and recovery services and social work technology and its peer recovery support specialist and peer recovery/addiction and recovery certificate programs. Students from as far away as North Carolina have taken these programs’ online courses.

Related article: Baccalaureates at community colleges are making a difference

Sinclair offers applied baccalaureate degrees in aviation technology/professional pilot and unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Each of the programs had their first two graduates this spring.

Cleary said she appreciated how Hunter described both colleges’ baccalaureate programs during a recent presentation to military personnel affiliated with Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which is located in a rural area between the two colleges. 

Preston Moore was one of two students to graduate from Sinclair Community College’s UAS baccalaureate degree program this year. (Photo: Sinclair)

“I was so impressed with the way she talked about what they were doing to help their students get ready for our program,” Cleary said. “We do have an indoor flying pavilion. We have a huge fleet of drones. They don’t have that at Wright State and Central State [two nearby public universities], and they don’t have it at Clark State to the extent that we do. So it makes perfect sense that we should partner.”

The aviation and UAS programs connect with local aviation industry that traces back to the Wright brothers, who in their Dayton bicycle shop developed plans for the first powered aircraft that flew in the U.S.

“Sinclair strategic priorities are alignment, growth and equity, and the bachelor’s degrees are smack dab in the middle of those priorities,” Cleary said. There are 25 students in the aviation technology program and 27 in the UAS program.

Being resourceful

Tuition for the baccalaureate programs at both colleges is the same as for their associate degree programs.

“We already had the faculty and the equipment and the facilities, so it was not a big burden to us,” Cleary said.

Clark State has used grants and Perkins funds to purchase equipment.

“We’ve been resourceful in using every available opportunity to make sure we have what’s necessary for the program to move successfully,” Hunter said, adding that this has involved examining the college’s internal processes.

 “We had to really look at all our operations to ensure that we could support our baccalaureate programs and our students in financial aid processes, in our application process [and] the admission process that is very different. We had to take a serious look at all of those pieces to ensure that we had all the appropriate tools in place for students to be successful at starting and completing our programs.”

Up next

The next degree Sinclair leaders hope to add with state approval is a bachelor’s degree in nursing for individuals who are registered nurses (RNs). Because RNs have already done the clinical hours required for a bachelor’s degree, the “completion” degree that Sinclair is in the process of proposing will avoid needing clinical sites, which are in short supply.

“One of the challenges that colleges and universities face is getting enough clinical sites. So we would not be draining the clinical sites by adding this bachelor’s, but we are providing services that the hospitals are saying are very much in need. They need bachelor’s degreed nurses,” Cleary said.

About the Author

Madeline Patton
is an education writer based in Ohio.