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Stark State Named Nation’s Fastest Growing Two-Year College of 10,000+ Students

(North Canton, OH – Dec. 3, 2010) – Stark State College is the nation’s fastest growing large, public two-year college. Stark State’s 33% increase in enrollment between the fall 2008 and 2009 semesters topped the growth ranking of institutions of 10,000 or more students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Rankings were announced this week in Community College Week.

Overall, enrollment in America’s community and technical colleges increased by about 8 percent during the same period, compared to just below 5 percent among the four-year sector.

“The College’s sustained dramatic growth reflects the community’s recognition of the value of a Stark State associate degree,” said Dr. John O’Donnell, president of Stark State College. “The economy in Stark County has changed. The skills mastered in a Stark State associate degree – technical, computational, communications, data and systems analysis, problem-solving – are the pre-requisite for a career in today’s economy. Our students fully appreciate our high academic quality, experienced faculty, market-driven programs and affordability.”

Stark State continued a streak of double-digit enrollment growth this fall, too, with an increase of 19%. The surge brings the College’s official 14-day enrollment to an all-time record of 14,834 credit students. Since 2003, the student population at Stark State has grown by 162%, a trend O’Donnell attributes to the continuous improvement of existing programs, the addition of new programs, and strong business and community partnerships, are all vital to Stark State’s success.

While health science remains the most popular major, new majors in emerging technologies, such as biotechnology, defense metals, geographic information systems, homeland security, fuel cells and cyber security/computer forensics also are driving the college's growth. The College has strong business collaborations with Rolls-Royce U.S. Fuel Cell, Inc., the Defense Metals Center and Contained Energy, all located on campus, and will soon partner with the Timken Co. in a wind energy technology center. Partnerships such as these create new industries and jobs for Stark County.

“This fall semester we welcomed 3,088 new students,” said Cheri Rice, vice president for student services and enrollment management. “We planned for such growth and were able to welcome and engage each new student.” Also, she added, more students are taking more credit hours per semester.

Stark State maintains one of the most affordable tuition rates in the area, and offers a wide range of financial aid and scholarships to help students. Approximately 60% of all students receive some type of financial aid, including private scholarship support through the Stark State College Foundation.

“Affordability is absolutely essential given the state of our economy,” O’Donnell said. “We have anticipated and planned for dramatic enrollment growth given the needs of students and families for affordable, quality associate degrees and certificates that lead to career success. We have been highly cognizant of the needs of businesses and corporations for an educated workforce. We have reached out to every community and the diversity of our citizens.”

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