The University of Akron took steps Wednesday to open a satellite in Lakewood, its first foray into Cuyahoga County.
Trustees agreed to spend $550,000 to refurbish space at 14701 Detroit Road for classes in education and nursing this fall and to spend another $147,000 a year in rent.
This will be the sixth place UA offers classes, alone or in partnership with other institutions, outside of Akron.
''There's a big potential for a student base here,'' said Dru Siley, director of planning and development for the city of Lakewood. ''This felt like a good fit.''
Holly Harris Bane, UA associate vice president for strategic initiatives, said Lakewood officials approached them two years ago with the prospect of offering classes in what they viewed as a revitalized business district.
UA marketing studies concluded the city is ripe for higher education. Almost 60 percent of residents are between the ages of 20 and 54, the population the Ohio Board of Regents is targeting in its push to increase college attainment statewide.
UA will establish its Lakewood satellite in 11,000 square feet in the 81-year-old Bailey Building at Warren and Detroit roads. Owner and developer Brad Kowit is renovating the former department store for restaurants, retail stores and offices.
Initially UA will offer more than half of its classes by videoconferencing from its main campus.
As enrollment grows from the projected start of 30 this fall to 174 by the sixth year of the lease, the university will increase its offerings in face-to-face instruction. Some classes also will be web-
based. UA will expand the kind of classes it offers at Lakewood along the way.
Harris Bane said the Lakewood projections are conservative and that the university should recoup its start-up costs by the third year of operations.
In the meantime, UA is asking other Northeast Ohio universities if they would be interested in offering classes at what it calls the Lakewood Education Center.
Cleveland State, Cuyahoga Community College and Stark State are among the institutions that could share space with UA in Lakewood.
''We do not have all the programs that students need,'' Harris Bane said. ''What we've said from the beginning is that we will be partnering with others to meet the area's market needs and employment needs.''
While in decades past the state's tax-supported institutions had something of a gentleman's agreement about which universities provided services where, that has gone by the wayside.
Now many tax-supported universities are extending their reach into neighboring counties, even if the county already is home to a sister university. Sometimes the satellites are partnerships between several universities.
UA also offers classes at the Medina County University Center south of the city of Medina and Wayne College in Orrville. It jointly operates the Midpoint Campus Center in leased space in Brunswick with Lorain County Community College and at Barberton High School with Stark State.
In other action Wednesday, trustees approved raising housing rates by 5 percent at all dorms except Gallucci and Grant, whose rates will not change. Costs for various meal plans will rise from 2.8 percent to 4.4 percent.
The rate changes will be effective with the fall term.