By Amanda Wurst
Communications & Marketing, Eastern Gateway Community College
YOUNGSTOWN – In 2020, as the world reeled from a global pandemic and its fallout, Eastern Gateway Community College realized a major milestone.
Five years ago, Eastern Gateway made three strategic decisions to drive growth. It invested in high-quality, online learning, aligned on-campus programs with the needs of the regional economy, and worked to remove traditional barriers to higher education, including course schedules, food insecurity, tuition and book costs.
“With over five years of experience in online college education, Eastern Gateway Community College was able to maintain and grow the services we offer students, create jobs in Youngstown and Steubenville, and offset $163 million in potential student debt,” says President Michael Geoghegan. “We believe that our focus on preparing students for the 21st century workforce, and finding new ways to make college degrees and certifications accessible and affordable, will set a new standard for all colleges and universities.”
Partnering with labor unions across the country, EGCC offers members and their families last-dollar scholarships similar to tuition waivers for students in the Mahoning and Ohio River valleys.
Through Open Educational Resources, more than 200 courses have zero-cost textbooks and saved students nearly $12 million in 2019-2020, Geoghegan says.
As a result, EGCC has nearly 40,000 students enrolled from all 50 states. Ohio-based enrollments have increased to the highest levels in the college’s history.
By removing financial and logistical barriers, students who thought a degree was outside of their reach are seeing greater success, as 77.1% of EGCC students earn A’s, B’s and C’s.
“Our model puts education within reach of anyone, and we meet people where they are. This is higher education as it should be,” Geoghegan says.
To support this work, EGCC created more than 100 jobs in Steubenville and Youngstown. It also purchased and remodeled Humphries Hall and the Health Care and Workforce Building on Boardman Street in Youngstown.
“Our vision is to be an anchor in the revitalization of downtown Youngstown and that our campus serves as a hub of innovation, community and continuous growth,” says Arthur Daly, senior vice president. “The services and infrastructure we need to attract students and meet their needs will be a tremendous asset to the entire Mahoning Valley.”