Tiny Central State University is hoping students from other colleges will breathe new life into Ohio's only public historically black school.
With enrollment at 1,800, university officials say their previous goal of growing to 3,000 students by 2010 is too modest. The school in Wilberforce, about 200 miles southwest of Cleveland, has come up with a plan to more than triple enrollment with help from community colleges and some four-year institutions.
The state will be asked to pump $33 million into the school over the next few years, an amount that would be paid back eventually with tuition from the increased enrollment, supporters of the plan said.
Central State President John Garland envisions community colleges, like Cuyahoga Community College, acting as feeder schools by encouraging their graduates to transfer to Central State for a bachelor's degree. In addition, a high school student rejected by Ohio State University might be pointed toward Central State.
By ramping up the number of transfer students and taking students who don't make the cut at other state schools, Garland hopes to pump up Central State's enrollment to 6,000.
Growth is critical to the financial future of the school, which currently gets a state supplement of $11 million a year. Enrollment dropped dramatically in the mid-1990s when a financial crisis necessitated a state bailout.
On Wednesday, the Ohio Board of Regents will consider changing its state budget request to invest in the expansion.
The plan would give Central State about $10 million over the next three years, on top of the state supplement, to modernize buildings and add more majors and staff. In return, Garland promises the university will grow out of its need for a state supplement and contribute more college graduates to the state.
Central State also wants the state to pay $23 million to build a student center.
Garrison Walters, interim chancellor for the Board of Regents, said the plan has been well received by other two-and four-year institutions around the state. Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati have already offered ways to collaborate, Walters said.
The proposed changes come just after the state legislature approved a new core curriculum for high school students that offers up three state universities - Central State, Shawnee State and Youngstown State - as the only options for students who don't complete the tougher requirements.
Garland said the "Speed to Scale" plan is not in response to the core curriculum but that the two "dovetail."