Kirtland Community College assumes operations of University Center in Gaylord
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The more we all talked, it became apparent a merger would be a good fit for all parties. Kirtland knows how to run a successful operation. I look forward to a continued and mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.” – Ken Borton, Chairman of the Otsego County Board of Commissioners
Kirtland Community College took the operations of another college campus into the fold at the beginning of 2017.
A pact was made to transfer the operations of the University Center Gaylord (UC) to Kirtland Community College.
The Otsego County Board of Commissioners, at a meeting on Dec. 14, approved the agreement to transfer the operations of the UC, which was signed by administrators from Otsego County and Kirtland Community College.
Following 18 months of fact finding, discussion, and finalization, the agreement officially transferred all UC assets to Otsego County from the non-profit organization that previously managed the center.
Kirtland Community College took over operations of the entire facility, located at 80 Livingston Boulevard, on Jan. 1.
“The more we all talked, it became apparent a merger would be a good fit for all parties,” said Ken Borton, the chairman of the Otsego County Board of Commissioners. “Kirtland knows how to run a successful operation. I look forward to a continued and mutually beneficial relationship for years to come.”
Originally known as the Alpine Regional Education Center, a group of citizens, business professionals, and elected officials gathered in 1985 in Gaylord to explore the feasibility of enhancing post-high school educational opportunities in the region. The goal was to provide educational opportunities to college bound students and technical trade students.
The entity started with two universities and just under two dozen students. Over time, more colleges and universities started offering courses, certificates, and degrees.
In 1999, Kirtland Community College received a $4.1 million grant from the State of Michigan to build a technical training center in Gaylord. That same year, Otsego County voters approved an operational millage for the tech center, and two separate funding measures to build and operate the UC.
Kirtland Gaylord M-TEC and the UC operate under the same roof in a building located near the Gaylord High School.
The Otsego County Board of Commissioners contracted with the UC Board of Directors to operate the facility.
But due to the increase in colleges offering on-line courses as well the increasing elderly population in the region, enrollment at the UC started to dwindle.
The educational complex will continue to offer a wide variety of skilled trades training and other educational opportunities to students throughout northern Michigan.
“With the demand for skilled trades increasing, Kirtland stands ready to meet that demand and grow programs that will serve students and industry in our region,” said UC Board Chairwoman Sheila Simpson. “This transition of the University Center to Kirtland management is a win-win for taxpayers. We will pay less millage for the University Center in the future. It also benefits area students who will continue to have access to a variety of certificate and degree programs. Local employers will benefit by having a larger number of prepared and skilled workers to strengthen our local workforce.”
Current UC partners include North Central Michigan College, Spring Arbor University, Madonna University, Northwood University, and Michigan State University.
Dr. Thomas Quinn, the president of Kirtland Community College, said the existing colleges would be urged to expand their courses offered and additional colleges could be recruited to join the facility.
“If a university wants to have a presence at the University Center, we would certainly facilitate that,” Quinn said. “We intend to keep it the same as it has always ran.”
The UC Board and non-profit organization, however, will be dissolved. The operation of the facility will be overseen by Kirtland Community College’s Board of Trustees and its officials.
Quinn said the college plans to forge a stronger connection with the Gaylord community and with Otsego County.
“There has been a long standing connection there,” Quinn said.
Kirtland Community College opened its Health Sciences Center, located just south of Grayling, in August 2016. The college also has a campus in West Branch. Kirtland Community College’s main campus was built in Roscommon after the college was founded in 1966.