Lauren Hoffman

Lorain County Community College will take on the world of politics once again this November 8 ballot as the University Partnership Levy is set to be renewed before its expiration in 2023. The levy which was first introduced in 1991 supports the University Partnership Program at the college. 

A Crucial Decision
The $2.1 mill levy will not increase taxes, but rather is being introduced to keep, update and expand affordable LCCC and University Partnership programs that help lead to lifelong careers in growing fields at half the cost. 

Since its conception in 1993, the University Partnership Program has increased the educational attainment of Bachelor’s degrees by over 14%. As of right now, 53,855 Bachelor’s degrees have been awarded through LCCC’s UP program.
Lauren Hoffman|The Collegian

LCCC President Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D., sees the levy as crucial. “This levy, which must be renewed every ten years, is what continues to make our college as special as it is. Without it, we would not have the University Partnership and the various bachelors degrees our college offers.” 

The History
The University Partnership first launched in 1993 following a 1990 US Census, which indicated that Lorain County had the highest percentage of adults with Associates degrees, but ranked last for Bachelor’s Degree attainment and Graduate’s Degrees by 40% under the national average. 

To combat this issue, then LCCC President Roy Church, Ph.D., worked alongside Ballinger to build the concept which would become known as the University Partnership. Following the joint support of citizens of Lorain County three separate levies were passed in 1995, 2004 and 2013 establishing the first University Partnership in the state of Ohio. 

Humble Beginnings
“At its beginning in 1996, the UP had 5 colleges and universities offering 12 bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Since then the partnership has continued to grow with the help of our levies into the educational giant it is today,” said Ballinger. 

As each levy has been passed the cost to the average $100,000 homeowner has remained the same since 1995, sitting at about $5.25, making it one of the most affordable. LCCC Vice President Tracy Green said the program and its levy helps promote the college’s mission as well. 

“Our mission for the college and especially for the partnership is to obtain the five “A”s for students. We want to help Ohioans be Academically prepared through Affordable and Available opportunities that are Attainable and Aspire students to enroll. Succeed and advance in college,” said Green. 

Meet Chip
In order to generate support and interest in the upcoming midterm, LCCC has reintroduced Chip, a friendly robot that students can scan and interact with virtually. “Chip was introduced through LCCC votes a couple of years ago and has really helped bring information on how to register for voting to the students of LCCC,” said Ballinger. Students can find Chip outside the student life office in the College Center as well as information including mail in absentee ballots for the upcoming November 8 election.

Education Growth
Since its implementation, the University Partnership has increased the educational attainment in Lorain County astronomically. Between 2006 – 2010, 22% of Lorain County adults ages 26 – 64 held a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Then in 2015 – 2019 the estimate for the same population increased to over 25%. The program currently offers over 100 bachelor’s and master’s degrees through 15 partner colleges and universities and helps students say an average of $74,000 or 70% of the cost of a degree. 

In 2022, 351 graduates out of the more than 7,000 earned their associate, bachelor’s or masters degrees through the University Partnership. Lorain County Community College has also become the first community college in Ohio to offer their own Bachelor of Applied Science in Smart Industrial Automated Systems. 

“It is essential to our school and our community that this levy passes to keep the programs and services available for our students and continue to help them grow on their pathway in education,” said Ballinger. 

If the levy should fail in November, the college will still have two more chances to pass it before it expires in late 2023. The University Partnership recently celebrated 25 years in May of 2021.