A $4.2 million renovation has transformed the Pataskala campus of Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) into a welcoming teaching and learning facility with innovative and collaborative spaces to engage students, faculty and staff. COTC now offers many transfer-friendly and career-focused degrees and certificates in their entirety at the Pataskala campus. Students, employers and community members in western Licking County, eastern Franklin County and beyond benefit from a skilled workforce of COTC graduates.
“As the population growth in this area continues to multiply and more and more employers look at the western Licking County front and eastern Franklin County region, the accessibility of affordable higher education is not just important — it’s a necessity,” said COTC President John M. Berry, PhD. “COTC needs to meet the educational needs of more local students and the increased workforce needs of more local employers. The renovation of this facility is that first step.”
COTC’s Pataskala campus was dedicated on August 27 at a public ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured remarks from Berry as well as State Senator Jay Hottinger, Pataskala Mayor Mike Compton, COTC Board Chair Robert Montagnese, COTC Board Vice Chair Steven Cohen and COTC student Ambika Karki.
“I chose COTC for my pathway to success, and I am glad I did,” said Karki. “This Pataskala campus is five minutes from where I live, and it’s like my second home.”
Karki started her postsecondary education in 2019 at a university farther away because she didn’t recognize the Pataskala campus as a college. Despite its outward appearance, Karki eventually transferred to COTC where she could quickly start coursework that would allow her to become a registered nurse. She is in her second year of the associate degree program and has not paid any tuition out-of-pocket because of the scholarships and grants available at COTC. After she graduates, Karki plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at one of the many institutions with which COTC has a transfer agreement.
What does she think of the campus now? She is thankful for the new nursing lab where she can practice nursing skills on a mannequin as often as she desires. Karki exclaimed, “Is this really my college? It’s really nice inside. It looks amazing.”
The building located at 8660 East Broad Street has undergone many transformations over the last 30 years, from an aquatic center to a banquet facility to COTC, noted Mayor Compton. This latest renovation has eradicated all traces of its past tenants, creating a state-of-the-art institution the city is honored to have. He added, “I’m extremely proud of our relationship with COTC. I’m excited for the future of this school and the city. I believe, hand-in-hand, we will continue to grow and prosper responsibly.”
COTC began offering classes in the 16,000-square-foot Pataskala facility in 2010, and renovations began in 2020. Utilizing $3.2 million in state funding and $1 million of COTC reserve funds, the upgrades include a new nursing and allied health skills lab, science and computer labs, a digital media lab, classroom and academic support spaces, student collaboration spaces, a testing center, and the installation of new heating, ventilation, air conditioning and fire suppression systems. Operations resumed in the renovated building this summer and the first classes were held at the start of autumn semester on August 25.
During the ceremony, several speakers noted that the upgrades will have a direct impact on students seeking careers in healthcare and information technology, providing a pipeline of skilled workers for the region’s many nearby healthcare facilities and industrial parks. High school students, too, will benefit from College Credit Plus courses, earning college credit at no cost, while space-contrasted local school districts receive new opportunities to educate growing student bodies.
In addition, Cohen announced that the campus will undergo further renovations in the coming years to allow for increased enrollment and eliminate the college’s need to lease off-campus classroom space. COTC plans to construct a 5,800-square-foot addition on the current Pataskala facility that will house three traditional-size classrooms, one expanded classroom, an additional computer lab, several student study and meeting spaces, additional restroom facilities, and community gathering space. The college also plans to enclose the 1,500-square-foot carport to create a new front entrance and student/visitor lounge. A timeline has not yet been determined.
COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.