Collaboration is difficult; it requires empathy, work, flexibility and the right partner who shares a common vision and goals. Collaboration, particularly in education, can produce outcomes that benefit students and the regional economy. Stark State College found the perfect partner in Dr. Jay Gershen, president of Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). For more than two decades, our two institutions have collaborated to educate Northeast Ohio students.

More than 20 years ago, Stark State and NEOMED faculty worked together to bring human cadavers to our anatomy and physiology classes and laboratories, literally “bringing science to life” for students and enhancing the excellent education Stark State provides. Thanks to this partnership, Stark State is one of the few institutions in Ohio that provides undergraduate students with the opportunity for hands-on learning with human cadavers.

Our collaboration also enables Stark State science students to earn college credit and gain research experience through work with NEOMED researchers in areas such as biomechanics, bone biology, cardiovascular physiology, community mental health, drug discovery, neurobiology and quantitative genetics.

Through Gershen’s vision, the Bio-Med Science Academy (BMSA) provides STEM+M (science, technology, engineering, math and medical) education to high school students across the region on NEOMED’s campus. Stark State College is proud to provide College Credit Plus opportunities to BMSA students who can earn college and high school credit simultaneously.

In 2015, our institutions took collaboration to the next level with an innovative new articulation program that enables Stark State students to apply for direct admission to NEOMED’s doctor of pharmacy program. Students complete an associate of science (AS) degree plus an additional 14 credit hours in sciences at Stark State to qualify for the program.

Thanks to Gershen’s innovative approach and vision, more than 15 Stark State students have either completed or are on the path to NEOMED’s doctor of pharmacy degree. Growing numbers of students in the region are enrolling in this pathway, and students have established a Pre-Professional Club for pre-pharmacy and pre-med majors.

Stark State graduate Rachel Ligas is one of the many students benefiting from the NEOMED doctor of pharmacy pathway. Rachel, who graduated from NEOMED with her doctorate of pharmacy degree in May, is the first in her family of nine children to go to college. She is grateful for the time and money she saved, thanks to the Stark State-NEOMED pharmacy pathway.

I have had the pleasure of serving with Gershen on the boards of the Greater Akron Chamber, Canton Regional Chamber and other economic development organizations and initiatives. We have worked together as leaders of our respective statewide higher education associations — the Ohio Association of Community Colleges and Inter-University Council.

During the time I have known and worked with Gershen, he has been consistent, persistent and unyielding in his belief that education is the path to individual prosperity and economic vitality. Students, institutions and our region have benefited from his vision, work, collaborative spirit and personal commitment to education that leads to career success and strengthens the regional and state economy.

I join many colleagues in Northeast Ohio and the state who wish Jay Gershen a long, happy, healthy and well-deserved retirement. He leaves an amazing legacy at NEOMED, a campus and community transformed through his vision, collaborative spirit and ability to get things done. His work will continue to benefit students at NEOMED, the Bio-Med Science Academy, Stark State and the other colleges and universities where he has established partnerships and expanded student access to excellent education. He is an inspiration to me and other leaders who have had the pleasure of working with him.

Thank you, Jay!

 

Jones is the president of Stark State College.