ROCKSPRINGS — The Rio Grande Meigs Center celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday evening with an open house event.
The Bernard V. Fultz Center for Higher Education/Rio Grande Meigs Center opened its doors in the fall of 2008 to serve students of the region.
“We are proud to be here in Meigs County — ‘Obnoxiously Proud’,” said Meigs Center Director Tom Sutton, quoting a phrase often used by Economic Development Director Perry Varnadoe.
Sutton expressed his gratitude to the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) who built the center 10 years ago in a partnership with the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College.
“I am very appreciative to and for them for believing in this. It shows their dedication to the betterment of the county,” said Sutton.
Since 2008, a total of 2,259 students have taken classes at the Meigs Center, coming from 35 counties in Ohio and West Virginia for the classes, as well as a total of 14 states and three countries.
“This was the first offsite location (for the college) and it has been very successful,” said Rio Grande Community College Board of Trustees Chair Paul Reed, who is also a member of the CIC.
The center has helped to produce successful students, while adding to the success of the business community.
“The Meigs Center not only provides educational training, but has changed the culture of the community, to have higher education in the county,” said Varnadoe.
Reed noted that the addition of the Rio Grande Meigs Center brings quality to the community. When businesses look to come to an area, one of the things they look for is the option for training in the county. The Meigs Center allow for Meigs County to say that it can provide the training in the county.
“Rio Grande has done such a good job and has worked to make this a good facility,” noted Varnadoe.
Numerous general education courses are available each semester at the Meigs Center, with students also able to complete three associate degrees entirely on site — Business Management, Early Childhood Education and Social Services. Those associate degrees can then allow for the student to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Rio Grande or other institution, as well as going into the work force.
Approximately 50 classes are offered at the Meigs Center each semester with classes offered in the fall, spring and summer.
While there are non-traditional and traditional students who take classes at the Meigs Center, there are also many College Credit Plus (CCP) students from the local high schools who take classes each semester.
Additionally, Sutton explained that over the past two to three years the center has worked with two of the local high schools to offer CCP courses at the schools.
“It’s a win, win, win,” said Sutton of the school site CCP offerings. “A win for the student, a win for the school and a win for Rio Grande.”
Reed noted that with CCP a student graduating high school can do so with two years of college, and in some cases an associate degree, behind them.
Of the 10th anniversary celebration on Friday, Sutton commented that the attendance at the event shows that the community is invested in the success of the center. Looking around the room, Sutton pointed out college board members, CIC board members, faculty, students, business community members and many others.
“It makes things easier when the community is supportive and obnoxiously proud. It is nice to feel wanted,” said Sutton.
The Meigs Center works with the Chamber of Commerce, CIC, and the Department of Job and Family Services Ohio Means Jobs Center, among others to help better serve the students.
Sutton noted that the Ohio Means Jobs center assists the students with financial counseling and resumes, as well as other guidance and support.
When the center was built 10 years ago it was with accessibility in mind, said Sutton. The center is centrally located with easy access to those coming from around the county.
“The importance of success is in providing access and opportunity that students would not have had 10 years ago,” said Sutton. He noted that it is nice to see alumni come back to visit, as well as seeing several graduates who are now local teachers.
“To stand at graduation and see the number of Meigs County students receiving their diplomas, you know their needs are being met here,” concluded Reed.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.