James A. Rhodes State College is a two-year, state-assisted institution located in Allen County in west-central Ohio. Although its legally chartered district, established by the Ohio Board of Regents, is limited to Allen County, Rhodes State’s service area extends to nine other surrounding counties. The College was established in direct response to Allen County leaders’ expressed need for post-secondary technical education.
In February 1967, the Lima Area Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey to identify the technical education needs more clearly. The survey results served as the basis for the College’s Official Plan submitted to the Ohio Board of Regents. The Regents subsequently appropriated funds to The Ohio State University (OSU) to construct facilities on its Lima Campus to accommodate technical education. Penta County Technical Institute of Perrysburg, Ohio was invited by the Ohio Board of Regents and OSU to assume operational control of technical education on the Lima Campus.
The first class, representing 49 nursing students, enrolled at the Lima Technical Center in September 1969. In June 1971, upon further recommendation of the Ohio Board of Regents, and in accordance with the Ohio Board of Regents-Master Plan of 1966, the Allen County Technical College District was created under the provisions of Chapter 3357 of the Ohio Revised Code. Interim operation of technical education was transferred from Penta County Technical Institute to OSU. On September 17, 1971, a local Board of Trustees was appointed and assumed legal, statutory, and fiduciary control of the College. On May 18, 1972, the College was officially recognized as Lima Technical College (LTC).
By the mid-1990s, LTC offered over 70 associate degree programs and certificates. The College boasted an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students, and numerous non-credit courses serving professional training, skills upgrading, recreational, learning and personal development were offered through the Division of Community Education Services.
During this time, the unique relationship with The Ohio State University at Lima (OSU-L) had extended beyond proximity and included sharing the same facilities; some courses; and some service unit personnel, including the Chief Executive Officer who served as both the President of LTC and Dean/Director of OSU-L. The relationship was and continues to be governed by a Cost-Share Agreement, which details terms of operation and financial responsibility.
In 1991, separations occurred between LTC and OSU-L. LTC hired its own CEO as President, and OSU-L hired its own Dean/Director. The separation extended beyond leadership, freeing LTC to broaden the scope of its curricula and non-credit offerings by assuming full responsibility for required general education courses and moving from a general continuing education platform into workforce development training. Security, Student Athletics and Activities, Central Duplication and Mail Services, Library Services, Facilities/Grounds, and Room Scheduling continued to be shared, although each reports to one or other of the institutions. During this same period, the Ohio Board of Regents’ Managing for the Future and Securing the Future initiatives resulted in converting Ohio’s free standing technical colleges to community colleges. After significant debate, the technical colleges co-located with University branch campuses (similar to Lima Technical College) were denied this conversion opportunity.
This limited Ohio’s co-located technical colleges to career-related technical disciplines and applied associate degrees, preventing them from offering the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.
In 2002, to symbolize the diverse educational opportunities that the College offered, Lima Technical College changed its name to James A. Rhodes State College, in honor of former governor James A. Rhodes, who played a vital role in establishing Ohio’s two-year college system.
In 2005, James A. Rhodes State College offered applied associates degrees and certificates in over ninety programs. This same year, over three thousand students enrolled. By fall 2007 enrollments grew to 3,386 students and in June 2008, James A. Rhodes State College honored its 13,000th graduate.