by Allyson Smith
The University of Akron and Stark State College on Friday announced a new partner program called Direct Connect Dual Enrollment at an event at the new Stark State College.
According to Para Jones, the president of Stark State College, Direct Connect Dual Enrollment is a program where students can enroll in classes at Stark State and The University of Akron simultaneously.
She described it as a “guided pathway from a Stark State associate’s degree to a University of Akron degree.”
Stark State opened a campus in downtown Akron, adjacent to UA, this fall. It enrolls about 1,500 students. The partnership will be open to students from all Stark State campuses.
Through this program, Stark State students will have access to The University of Akron’s admissions faculty and academic advisors, as well as all facilities that are available to UA students, such as the Recreation and Wellness Center, libraries, email access and internet access.
Students who enroll in the program will also receive student identification cards for both institutions.
Jones said she hopes the partnership will facilitate “seamless transfers” between her institution and UA. She said some students prefer enrolling at UA rather than pursuing an associate’s degree first, and she hopes this option will help students consider AAs.
Along with Jones, Steve Millard, President and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor Dan Horrigan emphasized that this partnership will not only benefit students, but businesses and economic development as well.
“What we’re announcing today has as much to do with business and the economic development of the region as it does with advancing our students,” Jones said.
She stated that accessible higher education will lead to rewarding employment in the region.
“Through Direct Connect, we will provide more education to more people to ensure that our employers have the talent they need to thrive and grow, and to strengthen the economy and communities in Akron, Summit County, and the region,” Jones said.
At the end of the event, The University of Akron’s Interim President John C. Green sat beside Para Jones to sign the partnership agreement, solidifying the relationship between the two institutions.