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Students sign petition to save Delaware Center from Columbus State absorption

Mike Hughes / Lantern reporter

After Ohio State’s announcement that OSU Marion would be shutting down the Delaware Center after Spring Quarter, many of its nearly 800 students, faculty and staff are protesting the decision.

“The faculty is awesome, the location is perfect and the environment is perfect,” said James Fisher, a first-year in aerospace engineering at the Delaware Center.

Located in Lewis Center, the Delaware Center is a one-building campus that offers OSU Marion students many first- and second-year courses.

OSU announced the center was closing Feb. 10.

Fisher wrote two petitions looking to save the Delaware Center that each have more than 350 signatures. The Facebook group “Save the Delaware Center” has 171 members since its creation on Feb. 14.

“A lot of students have expressed that the way OSU is handling this situation is wrong,” Fisher said. “Someone should have told us a long time ago that this was a possibility.”

The Delaware Center has grown every year since its opening a decade ago, said Louis Hominga, Delaware Center admissions officer. The Delaware Center population has increased from less than 200 to about 800 students, Hominga said.

The Delaware Center population is about 11 percent Somali and 28 percent minority, Hominga said.

According to the Ohio State Marion website, the student enrollment at the Marion campus and the Delaware Center has increased from about 1,200 to 1,900 from 2000 to 2010.

However, this was not enough to keep the Delaware Center open.

“The lease for the Delaware Center building expires in September 2011,” said OSU Marion dean Gregory Rose. “The timing was right for the decision to be made.”

Rose also said reasons for the closure include OSU’s commitment to collaborate with Columbus State, the Ohio state government’s strategic plans for higher education development and the opening of a nearby Columbus State facility last fall.

An e-mail sent to Delaware Center students revealed many of these same explanations. Fisher said personal e-mails he sent to Rose and President E. Gordon Gee garnered similar responses.

For Delaware Center students, the environment will be what they miss the most.

“It’s a more personal experience,” said Nick Elencovf, an office assistant, about the Delaware Center. “I never had a problem with any of the faculty or staff.”

“I really enjoy the small class sizes,” said Mohamed Ali, a second-year in molecular genetics at the Delaware Center.

With Spring Quarter nearing, Ali, like other Delaware Center students, has a small window to change his college education plans.

“Students do not want to be forced to Columbus State,” said Mike Lohre, senior English lecturer at the Delaware Center.

For students, transferring to the nearby Columbus State Delaware campus will be the closest option. While OSU has yet to announce any staff or faculty cuts, Rose said roughly two-thirds of the academic course schedule will move to Columbus State Delaware campus.

But, perhaps Fisher feels disregarded in the process.

“The Delaware Center is an awesome campus, and we hate the idea of it closing,” Fisher said. “All too often, the student voice goes unheard.”


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