Clark State College will continue 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 60th anniversary celebration, we look forward to commemorating the accomplishments of Clark State’s past, present and future,” said 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.
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 said 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 said.
Koehler, vice president of K.K. Tool in Springfield, also said as a manufacturer, he knows the methods that were once innovative in 1990, 2000 and even 2010 are now outdated.
“Just as manufacturing, healthcare and businesses change, higher education must change as well,” said Koehler. “We can’t just be good at one thing anymore. Colleges are no different. In its 60th year, Clark State continues to change with the needs of employers and the workforce for 2021 and beyond.”
Koehler said 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 said.
Marvin Nephew retired from Clark State in June of 2017. He began his tenure with the College as Director, Human Resources and retired as Chief, Human Resources Officer. He is now honored as Chief Human Resources Officer Emeritus.
“Serving as Chief Human Resources Office for the students, faculty and staff at Clark State was a great honor for me,” he said. “I had the opportunity to interact and work with some of the best people I've met in my life. Some of my greatest pleasures come from witnessing the successes and growth of our employees, especially the staff.”
Nephew said he saw employees start their careers at Clark State in entry-level positions with a high school diploma, and through hard work and tenacity, earn a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, and obtain promotions along the way.
Nephew said he also saw much physical growth during his time at Clark State including size and the number of structures such as the addition of the Sara T. Landess Technology Center, The Greene Center, The Hollenbeck-Baily Conference Center and The Karen Rafinski Student Center.
“Additionally, through the hard work and dedication of administrators, faculty and staff, I saw enrollment grow from approximately 3200 students in 2007 to over 6500 students in 2017,” he said. “Culturally, I saw the faculty and staff focus change from ‘Getting students into the classroom’ to ‘Getting students into the classroom, teaching and supporting them the best they could through graduation or program completion.’”
Nephew said Clark State is a school where students can achieve or get a good start on achieving their professional and personal goals.
“Clark State is a rigorous yet nurturing and rewarding place to learn,” he said. “One can also save money on a quality education at Clark State.”
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,” said 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 said one of the greatest benefits TAC believes will come from our partnership is the opportunity for the people with disabilities who we serve 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 said. “They may even consider taking higher education classes in the future.”
Doane said 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 said. “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 also 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 content is a timeline of major events in Clark State's history, from the founding of the college in 1962 to present day,” said 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,” said 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, who has presided over Clark State for a decade now, said 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 said. “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,” said Blondin.
Blondin also said 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 said.
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.
“As I begin my tenth year as President of Clark State College, I am profoundly grateful to so many who have made our vision for access to and success in higher education possible,” said Blondin. “I am particularly thankful of the fifty-seven 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.”
Clark State will hold a cake cutting ceremony to commemorate its 60 years of serving the community at the Clark County Fair on July 28, from noon to 1 p.m., at the Clark State Booth in the Mercantile Building.