50 Years of Excellence: Kent State University Tuscarawas

By Beverly Keller
The Budget

Tuition starts at just over $3,000. There are 27 majors to choose from. It is an academic hub that began in 1962, but its first class was officially held in partnership with Kent State University in 1968.

This place is Kent State University Tuscarawas.

It is not your typical college campus as it started as an outreach of night classes at New Philadelphia High School. A study was performed and under the watchful eyes of residents like Robert Wise, Francis Hazard, Ray Crumbley, Walter Ritter, and Jess Dempster the study got wheels turning.

Tuscarawas County owned about 174-acres of vacant land at the time which they donated for the sake of starting a campus in the community. In addition, the county donated $262,000. Voters stepped up to the plate. Believing in the dream, voters approved a five-year .5 mill tax that raised $525,000.

The first scoop of dirt was moved on November 30, 1966, clearing the way for a quality education close to home. However, a labor strike during the following summer, in 1967, delayed things a bit. However, the building was open for use after a dedication ceremony held on September 14, 1968.

As with anything new, there were challenges. In the early 70’s cost-cutting measures were implemented to balance the budget. Bulbs were removed from every other fixture and some restrooms were locked to save money. In addition, the temperature of the building was lowered in the winter.

To ramp up enrollment, a special marketing campaign, aimed at women, was launched. The campaign was pegged on the slogan, “You can earn an associate degree and exchange your mixing bowl and diaper pins for a clipboard and a paycheck.”

And it worked.

In addition to career tracks, the school offered courses in lawn mower repair, personal computers and even, disco dancing.

Today, this campus serves the needs of over 2,000 students in pursuit of a degree from among 16 associate-level programs and 11 bachelor degree paths of study. One of the faster programs is that of an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology. It is one of only seven accredited programs in the state of Ohio. Kent Tuscarawas is the only campus in the Kent State system to offer the classes needed complete with trained faculty to teach and administer this program.
Bachelor’s Degree programs include things like agribusiness – a growing field; business management; communications; criminology and justice; early childhood education; engineering – including computer design, animation, electrical, mechanical and green/alternative; English, nursing, and psychology. On the two year side, there are degrees in arts, science, accounting, computer design, medical billing, nursing, and office technology. There are also online programs for office work, insurance, public health, and respiratory care.

Certificates for business management, computer-aided design for manufacturing, computer forensics, medical billing, and eBusiness to name a few.

“The 50th anniversary of Kent State Tuscarawas on University Drive is a huge milestone for the campus and the community,” said Brad Bielski, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer of Kent State Tuscarawas. “Since the opening of Founders Hall in 1968 with about 200 students, the campus has grown over the years with an enrollment today of nearly 2,200 students.”

As enrollment has bloomed the need for space has also increased. Founders Hall was added onto in 1972, 1976, 1986, 1989, 1992 and 2002 and now covers 136,156 square feet. In 2002, the Science and Advanced Technology Center was completed that offers an additional 50,000 square feet of instructional real estate. The Performing Arts Center offers 50,000 square feet and a 1,100-seat theatre that opened November 2010. The most recent addition to the footprint is the Tolloty Technology Incubator that offers about 27,000 square feet of space. “The campus has been extraordinarily successful and is an asset to the community,” Bielski said of the campus.

And the campus continues to grow today. The Board of Trustees recently approved a new entrance-way project that will help to loosen the traffic constraints during peak times of the day. The new entrance will contact East High Avenue to loop off University Drive.

In addition, according to Bielski, residential housing is on the horizon. He explained that the need is there. “Currently, we have quite a few out-of-state students and students who have long daily drives to campus,” he explained. “We hope to add residential housing in the next few years to accommodate the needs of our current and future students.”

Getting to where they are today, has been a road paved by educators and community cheerleaders with ideas and a passion for learning. “As we join in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Kent State Tuscarawas, we reflect on the value of our campus alumni, friends and partners across the Tuscarawas Valley region and beyond,” explained Chad Conrad, Kent State Tuscarawas Director of Advancement. “These partnerships enable us to offer programs and initiatives that will enhance our students’ access to education and expand their career opportunities. Together, we have ensured students will graduate as innovative thinkers and citizen-leaders who are equipped with advanced skills to succeed in the workforce.”

With programs like College for Kids offered each summer and special speakers throughout the year, as well as sanctioned college sports, Kent State Tuscarawas has built a solid following of support from the community. As the 50th milestone passes, the impact of the school on New Philadelphia and Tuscarawas grows leaps and bounds.

This story originally appeared in the September 19, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.