Education

EGCC’s New President Says First Test Is Passing Levy

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Since he arrived in the Ohio Valley a month ago and became president of Eastern Gateway Community College, Dr. Jimmie Bruce figures he’s learned a thing or two about the community he now calls home.

“People are proud of Eastern Gateway, proud of its history,” Bruce said. “So much has happened since the college opened its doors nearly a half-century ago: Its mission — to make life better for the people of the Ohio Valley through education — hasn’t changed, but its name, programs and facilities are much different now. There’s a lot of excitement about what Eastern Gateway is and what it can become. In talking with our faculty and staff, there’s a feeling that we haven’t really reached our potential. I would agree with that, there’s so much more we can do.”

The college, a Jefferson County educational mainstay since 1968, expanded its reach into the Mahoning Valley six years ago.

“We’ve scratched the surface and made contacts in the Mahoning Valley, but there’s so much more we can do,” Bruce said. “But that’s true even in Jefferson County. The community and its needs are constantly changing, and we need to change, too. We need to take a step back and prioritize the programs and services we offer in order to better serve the people and communities of Jefferson County and the Mahoning Valley.”

His first test as president is crucial to the college’s future: Convincing Jefferson County voters to renew an $800,000 a year operating levy. Proceeds from the levy are used strictly for the betterment of the college’s Jefferson County facilities and to help students who live in Jefferson County improve their lives through education.

“The levy allows us to provide tuition assistance and make college more affordable for the citizens of Jefferson County,” Bruce said. “Through the levy, we’ve been able to strengthen our support services and make sure we have made access to higher education possible for students from Jefferson County who may not be able to come to us otherwise. The levy is critical, I think, to students who live in Jefferson County. We need the levy to continue to do things here that are important to students who live here in Jefferson County.”

He said it’s also vital for the college to make sure young people “understand what we have to offer here at Eastern Gateway, how we can help them transition into the workforce or to a four-year university where they can get a bachelor’s degree.”

Bruce said one of his priorities is “to get the word out to adults who’ve been out of school for a while or want to come to college for the first time, or maybe are trying to re-skill because of their job situation. The beauty of a community college is it’s not just serving high school students, we’re also reaching out to try and strengthen our community by making sure we have good programs to support the workforce or individuals who need a second start or, in some cases, even a third start.”

Community colleges by definition exist to transform lives,  he points out.

“It can be a high school student who is not ready for college, a person who lost their job or single parents who want to make a better life for themselves and their families. That’s why we’re here.”

Pictured: Eastern Gateway Community College President Dr. Jimmie Bruce.

SOURCE: Eastern Gateway Community College.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.