This week marks a dozen years since Miami University expanded its footprint in Butler County with the opening of the Voice of America Learning Center in West Chester Township.
Since the January 2009 start of classes, Miami’s Learning Center, which sits on a campus portion of the MetroParks’ Voice of America park along the northeastern border of the township, enrollment and impact on the community has expanded, said school and community officials.
Enrollment has since more than tripled as has the number of undergraduate and graduate courses.
That first semester of the $7 million VOALC opened with 28 courses and an enrollment of 486 students. During 2018-19 school year, the last full school year not impacted by the coronavirus, there were 93 courses across the fall and spring semesters and an enrollment of 1,579.
More than dozen years before its opening, Miami, which is Butler County’s largest employer, wanted to build a small campus close to the then just-expanding business and residential corridor along Interstate 75, said Catherine Bishop-Clark, associate provost and dean.
“In March 1995, as the VOA was in the process of turning over the property of the former relay station to the (federal government), Miami sat down with township, county, and school district officials to discuss an approach for transferring the 600-plus acres for educational and recreational purposes,” said Bishop-Clark.
“Miami worked with West Chester (then Union) Township and Butler County on the coordinated proposals to various federal branches for the free transfer of the property,” leading to the school obtaining 20-acres along the western boundary of the property – along Cox Road.
“Miami’s goal was to increase accessibility of university-level undergraduate and graduate programs closer to the I-75 corridor thereby serving more directly the growing areas in West Chester and Liberty townships as well as the growing population in the Warren County area. The concept was always a learning/instructional center, not a full-service campus,” such as Miami’s regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown, she said.
Miami’s decision to pursue a new, single building campus, was a sound one, said West Chester Township officials.
“It is easy to understand the decision and its value to the community,” said Larry Burks, West Chester Township Administrator.
“Educational opportunities are key to the success of West Chester’s local economy. With more than 3,600 businesses in our community, a highly trained workforce is critical,” said Burks.
“A distinguished university’s presence offers opportunity for advanced training and continuing education benefitting our corporate stakeholders and our residents who wish to expand their horizons,” he said.
“Miami’s nationally recognized MBA (Masters of Business Administration) program at the Voice of America is especially impactful allowing access to the best post-secondary education opportunities right in our backyard.”
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