OSU president visits Lima campus

Mar. 19—LIMA — Rural college campuses like The Ohio State University-Lima can overcome declining enrollment by focusing on manufacturing, OSU President Walter Carter Jr. said during a tour of the Lima campus Tuesday.

"There's a workforce there that needs higher education or continuing education," Carter said, "and I think that's a space that a campus like Lima can certainly help fulfill."

Carter briefly spoke to reporters about the role of regional campuses in the OSU system, saying that the campuses "stand alone on their own merits" and function as an entry point for students who want to transfer to Columbus.

"We should be a leader in this country about why higher education matters," Carter said. "If you look at the future of the workforce and what's going to be needed for this country to be successful, we're going to need more students with undergraduate degrees and an interest in higher education — not less."

Enrollment at OSU-Lima has declined by about 800 students in 15 years, Carter said, a trend visible on many rural campuses hit by population decline.

Carter said overcoming that trend will be a "challenge," but pointed to the manufacturing industry's workforce needs as a possible solution.

OSU-Lima is already working with manufacturers from across the region to train engineers through its new bachelor's degree in eningeering technology, which will graduate its first cohort of students this spring.

"One of the things we pride ourselves on is trying to be proactive and responsive to the needs of our local industries," interim Dean Margaret Young said. "Manufacturing came with a need, saying we know we're going to be needing engineers to fill these vacancies, and in partnership with them we built this degree program."