Kent State breaks ground for new Twinsburg facility

Alison Ritchie

Kent State broke ground Thursday at the Geauga campus’ new Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg.

The approximately $24 million facility is expected to be completed by Fall semester of 2012 said Emily Vincent, director of media relations at Kent State. The 44,000 square-foot center will be able to serve up to 1,500 people. It will replace the current Academic Center in Twinsburg, which is called by residents as “The Old School.” Kent State President Lester Lefton explained that the new building would bring new opportunities to Kent State students, as well as to the city of Twinsburg.

“This center is going to be a unique educational and economic asset to our region,” Lefton said.

“This is going to boost people’s lives. This facility will stand as a testament to the power of partnerships.”

The center is an auxiliary branch of the Geauga campus in Burton, Ohio. The Geauga campus first began classes in Twinsburg as part of a partnership with the Chrysler Corporation to offer higher education to autoworkers in 1990. Six years later, classes moved to “The Old School.” In 2004, enrollment was about 200 students. Now, enrollment has jumped to nearly 900 students and has continued to increase.

Twinsburg Mayor Katherine Procop said she knew the city was on the right academic path after a Twinsburg man approached her in the supermarket.

“He said, ‘I want you to know, without the academic center located in the Old School, my three girls would not have the opportunity to go to school. I can’t afford to send them all three away to school. This is so important for our family.’”

Procop credited the Twinsburg center’s growth to Geauga Dean David Mohan. She said it became evident that a permanent location was needed after enrollment increased.

The new site has an added benefit in its location, said Mohan.

“It offers access to Cleveland – the executive community and the medical community,” he said.

“It’s so accessible. There are so many people within a 30-minute drive of here.”

Mohan said the center would allow for the creation of new degree programs.

“This is going to bring a higher level of education to this area,” he said.

The campus is considering adding approximately six new master’s degree programs, including

those in the College of Business and the College of Public Health.

Kent State is paying for the new facility through a loan from the Akron Port Authority. The university is also taking out bonds through the federal Build America Bonds program, which save nearly $1.4 million. The building will not become Kent State property until the end of a 30-year tenant lease agreement.

Cleveland’s Fairmount Properties is the project developer. Construction is anticipated to begin in March 2011, and the project is expected to take 12 months to complete.

Contact Alison Ritchie at [email protected].