Journal Opinion: Making the Best of a Bad Situation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The announcement March 20 that Youngstown State University would take over the flight school launched earlier this year by Eastern Gateway Community College and the Western Reserve Port Authority represents one step in YSU’s absorption of the community college’s operations.

Since Eastern Gateway announced in February that it would pause enrollment and registration after the spring semester, YSU officials, area leaders and educational institutions have been working to fill the void its closure will create in the education and workforce ecosystems.

The YSU Board of Trustees has approved a resolution to allow “seamless degree continuation” for current Eastern Gateway students. The YSU Academic Senate has approved 32 associate degree and certificate programs to enable students to transition to YSU. Additional certificates are slated for review this month. The university already offers 10 programs that correspond to those at Eastern Gateway.

YSU also is holding virtual sessions for Eastern Gateway students to learn their options and answer their questions.

The university is looking at establishing a physical presence in Steubenville, including but not limited to using Eastern Gateway’s main campus there. While much attention has been paid to what Eastern Gateway’s closing will mean for downtown Youngstown, it deals a much bigger blow to Steubenville and Jefferson County – where the community college was founded in 1961.

The Mahoning Valley is fortunate that institutions such as YSU and Kent State University at Trumbull and organizations like Flying High have stepped forward. Certainly the students who enrolled at Eastern Gateway to expand their opportunities and the employers who have open positions for those students have cause to be grateful.

The absorption of Eastern Gateway programs into YSU – which will benefit from the influx of students at a time when it is initiating cuts in programs, is the best possible outcome. Market forces will shape the direction this takes.

The situation would benefit from collaboration with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, as well as other organizations and area employers, to best define workforce needs.