UT, city in talks for satellite campus

By TOM TIGANI
Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — Officials here are continuing discussions with the University of Toledo about opening a satellite campus within the city limits.

An informational meeting is being planned for Oct. 20 at the Downriver Family YMCA, 16777 North Line Road, to let residents from the city and the rest of the region about the university and its offerings. UT’s main campus has over 230 majors and degree programs, but university spokesman John Adams said the satellite campus would offer only a portion of that.

Many UT courses are online, and some of the proposed Southgate campus’s courses would be either online, in-person or some combination thereof, he said, though the mix of class offerings still is being worked out.

“We’re here to work with Southgate to help residents further their education through retraining, career advancement and degree completion,” Adams said, noting the main campus is just an hour away.

He and City Administrator Brandon Fournier said last week that city and university officials are meeting and talking by telephone weekly trying to work out possible locations for the satellite campus, but that those talks have not zeroed in on any concrete possibilities at this point.

Adams said he could not yet give a timetable as to when the campus would be up and running. He also declined to comment on how much space would be needed.

The beginning of discussions with officials here was mentioned early last month at a press conference at Comerica Park touting a partnership with the Detroit Tigers and Southgate. The event also highlighted the Scholarly Savings Account Program, which will generate money based on performance of the team’s pitchers to enable Michigan students to receive discounts on the price of college.

Adams said UT aggressively has been expanding its presence in this state since merging in 2006 with the Medical College of Ohio. The partnership with Southgate and the savings account program are among the latest efforts to do that.

Starting this year, the university will make as many as five annual deposits of $2,000 into individual student scholarship accounts with the successful completion of the eighth grade and for completion of each year of high school and any pre-established requirements a school district might require.

The way Tigers pitchers figure into the mix is that $100 is deposited in the savings account program every time one of them strikes out an opposing team’s batter.

For students to be eligible for the program, they must graduate with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and meet core curriculum criteria for regular admission to UT. At the same time, their school districts must sign a participation agreement with UT that includes the development of their own requirements and an annual tracking process.

Upon graduation from high school, a student may have accumulated a maximum of $10,000 through the savings program that can be used toward tuition at UT. The scholarship funds then will be disbursed in annual increments of $2,500 for four years of attendance at the university.

“A student who may believe a college education isn’t affordable may not put as much effort into their education,” said Lawrence Burns, UT vice president for external affairs, who also serves as interim vice president for equity and diversity. “By reaching out to students in the eighth grade, we’re telling them that if they work hard in school, the money will be there when the time comes.”

Southgate Community School District officials have said they are looking forward to the partnership, and that a satellite campus will help local students save money while furthering their education.

The Scholarly Savings Account Program is available to any school in the nation, though Burns emphasized that the school district, not just individual students, must sign up.

“We want to partner with school districts and let them set appropriate standards for their students,” he said.

UT officials believe that the program will result in improved high school graduation rates and better prepare students for the rigor of a college education.

School districts with questions or that are interested in joining the Scholarly Savings Account Program are encouraged to contact Kevin Kucera, UT associate vice president for enrollment services, at (419) 530-5742.

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