The Twinsburg Academic Center is 10!
The Twinsburg Academic Center (TAC) facility is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Sept. 12, 2022. It’s time to celebrate this milestone and Kent State University’s enduring commitment to making higher education accessible, affordable and relevant to the local community and its workforce, thanks to vibrant community engagement.
A public open house will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Community members who have partnered with the center over the past 10 years will enjoy appetizers, a tour and commemoration. Alumni, donors, faculty, staff, students, business leaders and community members are all invited!
While the academic center building has now been a landmark on Creekside Drive for a decade, it’s just one part of a 32-year history in the Twinsburg community.
In 1990, the Geauga Campus began offering workforce development classes at Twinsburg’s Chrysler plant. Demand for courses continued to grow through the '90s, allowing Kent State Geauga to develop a second location at Twinsburg’s "Old School" at the intersection of Ohio routes 91 and 82.
Then in 2012, a modern, “green,” LEED-certified facility named the Regional Academic Center was built as a satellite of the Geauga regional campus, offering two- and four-year degrees to the Twinsburg community and beyond. The 44,000-square-foot, two-story building accommodates up to 1,500 people, nearly twice the capacity of its previous location. It is located within a 30-minute drive for students in a four-county area.
In late 2019, its name was officially changed to the Twinsburg Academic Center, which better reflects the community it serves. Through Kent State Geauga, the Twinsburg Academic Center now offers more than 20 associate and bachelor's degrees at a fraction of the cost of a four-year public institution.
Considering the partnerships the center has nurtured with the city of Twinsburg and its business/service leaders, Dean Angela Spalsbury says the Twinsburg Academic Center is dedicated to strengthening its role as a driver of workforce development for the community. “We remain committed to preparing the workforce for the future,” she says.
“Thanks to ongoing collaborations and communications, we keep our finger on the pulse of emerging workplace trends and offer the training to meet those needs,” Spalsbury explains. “Our vibrant presence in Twinsburg speaks to this deepening legacy.”
With several course offerings including business, accounting and computer science, the center offers a range of professional development and educational opportunities for employees. Educational levels range from non-credit continuing education, workforce development, job training and executive development courses, to two- and four-year degrees, and even online master’s degrees.
The center also helps address ongoing staffing shortages in health care, offering the Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing (ADN). This program prepares students for the registered nursing profession in community hospitals, clinics and home health care settings.
Several current faculty members have been teaching in Twinsburg since the early days at the Old School. A couple of them share their memories below:
Mahli Mechenbier, senior lecturer in English, joined the team in 2006. While she appreciated the small classroom setting and the history of the Old School, “we did not have air conditioning throughout the building, so faculty would pray for a room assignment with air,” she recalls.
“Even though we did not have wireless or full air conditioning — and the toilets were grade-school sized — that building had character, and thinking of it reminds me of how much our campus community has thrived in the city of Twinsburg.”
Mechenbier has enjoyed being a part of the center's growth in the community. “After a few years at the Old Building, the parking lot was at capacity, so we rented space at the business next door and built a pathway for the students to park there and walk to the building.
“Then when the ADN program was implemented, the addition of all of our qualified nurses was a burst of positive energy to the faculty. The faculty are stronger, having these professionals as part of our TAC team.“
Donna Casey, MSN, RN, is program director for the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) at the center.
Her initial part-time role at the Old School was to develop the Nurse Aid Training Competency Evaluation Program and State-Tested Nurse Aid training program for the center (2009). Then she started to develop the LPN to ADN Weekend Cohort schedule of the ADN program, which still operates today.
In 2013, Casey became a full-time faculty member, teaching mental health and medical/surgical nursing lectures, labs and clinicals. By 2014 she became interim nursing program director for the center's ADN program and was named nursing program director the following year. As such, she completed a full five-year reapproval survey in 2020 by the Ohio Board of Nursing and then completed a full eight-year accreditation review in 2021 by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Recalling the Old School, Casey says, “My first memory was how old the building was. The basement classrooms were very old, dark and dingy. Nothing about the building was new except the vending machines in the student area. Even the equipment in the nursing skills lab was donated by CCF Marymount Hospital.”
Contrast that to her description of the center's current atmosphere: “It’s a pleasant work environment! The building is beautiful, upbeat, bright and has beautiful wall murals and photos. More importantly, TAC provides cohesiveness for our strong faculty and a presence in the community.”
After 10 years, the center is an enduring educational resource in the region. Building stronger connections through collaboration with community partners, Twinsburg Academic Center is continually improving student success in both the classroom and the workplace, from one decade to the next.