State could fund 3-college pact

TU, Heidelberg, Terra eye partnership over water, cyber security

PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY Terra State Community College President Jerome Webster discusses a partnership with Heidelberg and Tiffin universities Thursday for the Ohio Partnership for Water, Industrial and Cyber Security.

A three-college partnership is among capital projects to be funded under the latest state budget proposal, state Rep. Bill Reineke announced Thursday.

At a news conference at Terra State Community College, Reineke, R-Tiffin, said the $2.6 billion budget bill includes $1.9 million for projects in Sandusky and Seneca counties.

“It has been a pleasure for me to work on the state’s budget bill,” Reineke said. “We are being innovative and thoughtful regarding the future of job opportunities and providing students a purpose and the necessary workforce needs.”

Included in the budget is $1 million to fund a partnership among Heidelberg University, Tiffin University and Terra State Community College to form the Ohio Partnership for Water, Industrial and Cyber Security.

Reineke said protecting waterways and cyber security are topics that greatly effect Sandusky and Seneca counties and the state.

OPWICS was designed to be a center for research and training to meet increasing demands of the area’s workforce, Reineke said. The schools are to share faculty and resources toward that goal.

The partnership is to create opportunities for criminal justice and forensic science students and faculty focusing on cyber defense and forensics at TU and for water quality studies at Heidelberg through the National Center For Water Quality Research Laboratory.

“We are fortunate to have a strong working relationship with these institutions to create dynamic learning opportunities,” said Jerome Webster, president of Terra. “This will help us with workforce needs for the future.”

Webster said it has been beneficial to work with educational leaders that “get it.”

“It is an exciting time to see the state recognize the projects that are critical to the state,” he said.

Tiffin University President Lillian Schumacher said the collaboration is the “first step of many.”

“It is not easy for private institutions to receive state funding,” Schumacher said. “This move will be a precedent-setter for the state and region.”

With Tiffin being known as an educational community, Schumacher said the partnership is a great example of why.

“This is huge for us,” she said. “This will benefit not just our students, but our alumni and the community.”

“It is time to put money where our mouths are to do something that matters,” said Rob Huntington, president of Heidelberg. “This is just the beginning.”

Huntington said the partnership is a way for all three institutions to be bigger and better.

“Working together closely up here (Sandusky and Seneca counties) helps us get stuff done down there (Columbus),” Reineke said.

In addition, Terra is to receive $2.5 million this year to improve cyber security software and build a computer pod in the school’s library. Cyber security is part of Terra’s Workforce Demand Scholarship program.