The Ohio State University at Newark

Ceremonial Groundbreaking Kicks off Construction of New STEM Center at Ohio State Newark and COTC

August 14, 2019

The Ohio State University at Newark and Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) celebrated the start of construction for the John and Mary Alford Center for Science and Technology with a ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday, August 7. Heralded by event speakers as a “game changer” for central Ohio, the $32 million, three-story, 60,000 square foot facility will allow both institutions to expand academic programming, increase enrollment, enhance student success and better meet local workforce needs. Student enrollment at Ohio State Newark grew 24% from 2013-2018. The Alford Center will become the 11th building on Ohio State Newark’s and COTC’s shared 200-acre campus. The building’s anticipated completion date is spring 2021.

“The number one issue for employers is workforce development,” noted Congressman Troy Balderson (Ohio 12th) while addressing the crowd of nearly 150 members of the public, community partners and donors, faculty, staff and alumni. “Jobs in STEM fields are in high demand,” he added, noting the critical relevance of Ohio State Newark and COTC adding more educational opportunities leading to STEM careers.

Rob Montagnese, president and CEO of Licking Memorial Health Systems (LMHS) echoed Balderson’s comments and noted that nearly 20% of LMHS employees are COTC graduates, underscoring the importance of the campus to the community. COTC’s planned state-of-the-art healthcare simulation center will serve “students who will become our employees and who will care for our community in years to come,” said Montagnese. During 2016-2017, 532 COTC graduates earned degrees and certificates in healthcare fields. With demand in healthcare support occupations projected to increase by 28% through 2024, according to Ohio Bureau of Labor Market Information, the new healthcare simulation center will be a critical resource to fill the local and regional demand for skilled workers.

“The Newark campus is the crown jewel of regional campuses in the state of Ohio,” said Ohio Senate Majority Whip Jay Hottinger, “and a point of pride for all of us in Licking County.”

Furthering Hottinger’s sentiments, Jennifer McDonald, Licking County Chamber of Commerce president, described how her two sons will both graduate from The Ohio State University with no debt, thanks to scholarships available to them and the ability to live locally and attend Ohio State Newark. Her oldest son earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration by enrolling in all of his classes at Ohio State Newark. Her younger son completed most of his coursework in Newark and will transition to the Ohio State Columbus campus this fall to finish his degree.

“I know first-hand how important this campus is to the residents and to my friends in Licking County. With its small class sizes, excellent faculty, and academic programs and flexibility – all on this beautiful campus – it truly is a gem for our community,” said McDonald.

McDonald also emphasized that while the Newark campus is already a great selling point for firms potentially relocating or opening a new facility in Licking County, it will become even more advantageous when Ohio State Newark launches its proposed Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering Technology degree once the Alford Center opens. This proposed new degree, which students will be able to complete entirely in Newark, is being created in response to state manufacturers’ requests for highly skilled college graduates who possess general manufacturing engineering technology skills that marry business and leadership principles to engineering processes and technical knowledge. “I hear more and more from local manufacturers who struggle to find qualified leadership-track employees,” said McDonald “and this proposed new degree will help fill that gap.”

During the ceremony, State Representative Scott Ryan presented the campus with a commendation prepared from the Ohio House of Representatives to commemorate the groundbreaking.

John and Mary Alford, each speaker noted, were unwavering supporters of COTC and Ohio State Newark, and each thanked Ronald Alford and Barbara Cantlin, along with Barbara’s husband, Michael, for their generous $2.5 million lead gift which honors their parents’ tremendous support.

Building for our Future Campaign Chair Dan DeLawder thanked donors for their incredible philanthropic support and announced that since August 2018 COTC and Ohio State Newark have secured $13.1 million toward their $14.4 million campaign goal. DeLawder invited community members to help complete the campaign by taking advantage of Ariel Corporation’s generous $2 million campaign match, which will allow donors to effectively double their contribution. DeLawder also thanked Alford Center major donors: the Gilbert Reese Family Foundation, the LeFevre Foundation, the Newark Campus Development Fund, Melissa Warner Bow, Licking Memorial Health Systems, the Lindorf Family Foundation and The Park National Bank and associates.

For information about the Building for our Future Campaign, naming opportunities in the Alford Center or how to make a gift, please contact Kim Manno, director of advancement, at 740-366-9135 or

Central Ohio Technical College and The Ohio State University at Newark have forged an outstanding array of educational opportunities for the central Ohio region and beyond. This partnership is viewed as a model for higher education in the state of Ohio. At Central Ohio Technical College, students gain hands-on, applicable experience to begin working in the field, or to transfer those credits toward a bachelor's degree program. The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors.

Photo caption left to right: Ohio State Newark Dean/Director William L. MacDonald, PhD; State Representative Scott Ryan; Congressman Troy Balderson; Campaign Chair Dan DeLawder; Michael Cantlin; Barbara Cantlin; Ronald Alford; Ohio Senator Jay Hottinger; COTC President John M. Berry, PhD; Newark Mayor Jeff Hall; LMHS President and CEO Rob Montagnese; Licking County Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer McDonald.