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The Year In Review 2021

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(You may click on individual months or scroll down to see the full year in chronological order.)

The year in review

As the year began, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines brought hope and optimism. While the pandemic has continued to present challenges ­— including new variants and case surges — Columbus State remained committed to its mission and celebrated many milestones in 2021. Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of faculty and staff, the College was able to carefully expand its in-person instruction and student services in Autumn 2021. Columbus State also held the first in-person commencement ceremony since 2019 to honor the graduates of 2020 and 2021.

For the administration, President Harrison expanded his Cabinet by one new member when Almar Walter arrived as a vice president. He is the first person at the College to hold the title of the newly created position of chief diversity officer. Katy Trombitas arrived on June 1 as the new vice president overseeing the Office of Advancement.  

Governor Mike DeWine appointed three new members of the Board of Trustees to begin terms that began at various times in 2021. Terri W. Meldrum is the senior vice president and general counsel at OhioHealth, Sandra Doyle-Ahern is the president of EMH&T, and John Ammendola is the president and CEO of Grange Insurance.



PBS NewsHour
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Classes began on Tuesday, January 19 virtually with a few in-person labs. Also, that month, two segments from PBS Newshour aired. A crew from the nightly program visited the Columbus Campus as part of a project to develop a four-part series, “Rethinking College.” The segments examined the future of higher education amid COVID-19. Two segments included Columbus State elements. The first had interviews with Desiree Polk-Bland, vice president of Student Affairs, and Andrew Crowley, a Columbus State student. Watch the segment.

The second of the two segments provided in-depth reporting on the increase in short-term credential programs. Cheryl Hay, executive director of the Office of Talent Strategy, was included in the report. Watch the segment.

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Columbus State Community College earns placement in inaugural year-long Racial Equity Leadership Academy 

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Columbus State Community College was been named one of 10 leading community colleges in the nation to further its racial equity work through participation in a practitioner-guided Racial Equity Leadership Academy. The Academy is designed to break down institutional barriers to racially minoritized student success. It will provide the College with critical opportunities to enhance and promote its commitment to racial equity at every institutional level.

Read the full news release.


Virtual Cafe BlendZ Opens  

BlendZ Virtual Cafe opened for the first time on Friday, February 26.  BlendZ offered Columbus State employees who miss in-person interactions a place to have a little fun and engage in face-to-face time with colleagues and friends. 


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Nursing students join the fight against COVID

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It didn’t take long for Columbus State’s Nursing Department to lend a hand in the COVID-19 vaccination effort in Central Ohio. Professor Jackie Miller says, “OhioHealth reached out to see if we wanted to assist in giving vaccinations.” With the pandemic’s impact on the nursing program, the answer was almost a foregone conclusion. “Due to COVID-19, we lost as many as four clinical units this academic year. The vaccination program gives students needed in-person learning that clinical labs usually provide.” 

Miller says that, due to social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols, she can only take four students at a time. That requires rotating in several students each visit, so all have a chance to take part. As long as vaccinations continue, the students will continue to do clinicals each Wednesday and Thursday at the Blom Administrative Campus in Columbus.

Conference and Events Services earns international award

Columbus State came out on top at the Association of Collegiate Conference & Event Directors International (ACCED-I) Virtual Conference. The College’s Diversity in Hospitality: Black Chefs Speak Out was among four finalists for the Inclusive Excellence Award. Black Chefs Speak Out was sponsored by the School of Hospitality Management and the Columbus State Foundation. When the awards were announced on March 23, Columbus State won! Watch the announcement.

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Columbus State’s commitment to advancing student democratic engagement earns Voter Friendly Campus recognition

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Columbus State Community College is now one of more than 235 higher education institutions in the nation designated as a “Voter Friendly Campus.” It’s an initiative led by two nonpartisan organizations: the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The two groups hold participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing ongoing practices encouraging students to register and vote.

Mitchell Hall transforms into COVID-19 vaccine clinic
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After Gov. Mike DeWine announced on April 1 that colleges would have the option to provide clinics, Executive Vice President Rebecca Butler asked Kristen Treadway, executive director of Human Resources, to explore options for Columbus State. With the help of a small team, the massive effort was underway. The second-floor Events Center in Mitchell Hall became a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for the day on April 20. Nearly 500 students, staff, and faculty members who made appointments received their first Pfizer shot. The second shot was administered on May 11. 


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Campus tours forshadowed phased return to campus

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Campus tours were organized on May 7 to highlight some of the changes that have occurred during the pandemic. For Summer Semester, the number of classes and labs offered in person increased slightly compared to most of 2020.


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U.S. HUD Secretary visits Columbus State for housing discussion
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On June 25, Marcia Fudge, the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), made a stop at Columbus State when she was in Ohio. Fudge discussed ways that local, state, and federal agencies might partner on housing at Columbus State Community College. The discussion included President Harrison and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, whose district includes Columbus.

Cafe and Bakery Reopen
Blend Cafe + Bakery on the ground floor of Mitchell Hall reopened on June 16.

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Dozens attend first in-person First Wednesday since February 2020

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After more than a year of virtual First Wednesday meetings, on July 7, the monthly event transitioned into a hybrid in-person meeting with the option of watching on a livestream. February 5, 2020 was the last time an in-person First Wednesday had been held.

Also, in July, a weekly campus tour was offered to show returning faculty and staff the various changes that had taken place over the previous 17 months.


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Taste the Future 2021 had all the ingredients for success

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The 2021 Taste the Future event exceeded expectations. The annual event sponsored by the Columbus State Foundation raised just over $200,000, at least $30,000 more than the original goal. In addition to standard tickets, there were 56 sponsorships and 61 Host Committee/VIP tickets sold.

The Foundation staff credits some of the event’s success to the “highly collaborative and creative problem-solving superpowers of various departments at Columbus State.” They were blown away by the way our supporters and community rallied behind this event and our students in such a turbulent year for nonprofits. Katy Trombitas, vice president of Advancement, said, “Central Ohio needs us more than ever, and these funds will help us answer the immediate needs of our students and the College.”

Next year’s annual Taste the Future will be held – fingers crossed – in person on the Columbus Campus on Tuesday, August 9, 2022.

First day of classes brings more students back to campus

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On August 30, for the first time since the pandemic began, a semester brought increasing numbers of students returning for in-person classes at the Columbus and Delaware campuses and the Regional Learning Centers. Although the number of in-person courses was below pre-pandemic levels, the increase provided a degree of hope and optimism for the future.


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Rehearsals underway for first post-pandemic concert
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With classes underway, so too were rehearsals for performing arts groups. Theater Columbus State, Chorus Columbus State, and the Columbus State Concert Band resumed in-person rehearsals for upcoming performances.


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Columbus State hosts ‘Creators Wanted’ event  

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On October 7, Columbus State hosted a greater Columbus tour stop for Creators Wanted, an immersive modern manufacturing career pathways exploration experience. The event in the parking lot outside Mitchell Hall engaged area K-12 students and select Columbus State students, as well as industry representatives and special guests.

Author Wil Haygood returns to Columbus State
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On October 25, Columbus native and famed author Wil Haygood returned to Columbus State to discuss and read from his latest work, “Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films.” The free event was held in the WD Conference Center. It was Haygood’s fourth appearance as a friend of Columbus State. He has previously visited on book tours for “The Butler,” “Showdown,” and “Tigerland.”

Department Merger

A merger of two departments was announced in October. College Testing Services and Disability Services are now the Department of Testing and Accessibility. Read more about this merger.

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College helps lead the Columbus Promise in Central Ohio

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Columbus State joined multiple partners on November 10 to announce an ambitious program designed to transform the college landscape for students across the Columbus City School (CCS) district. The Columbus Promise will provide tuition-free education at Columbus State for graduating CCS seniors, starting with the Class of 2022 and continuing with the classes of 2023 and 2024. The Columbus Promise is a partnership between the City of Columbus, Columbus State, Columbus City Schools, I Know I Can, and private partners. The cost of the $9.5 million phase one will be split between public and private sponsors.

Read the news release

Visit the Columbus Promise website


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Columbus State part of region’s post-pandemic equation

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On December 2, Community leaders announced plans to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on our region by responding to inequities in health, jobs, and housing. Childcare is also on the list of urgent priorities – instability and worker shortages have hurt the already fragile childcare industry. To improve childcare access, the College announced it would provide training for Childcare Development Associate credentialing at no cost to those interested in becoming childcare workers. The College also plans to establish a regional childcare employer hiring placement center and a multi-million-dollar childcare center on the Columbus Campus. Last year’s voter-approved Franklin County bond issue will provide funding.

Graduation in person
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Hundreds of graduates participated in two Commencement ceremonies on December 17 at the Celeste Center in Columbus. Due to the pandemic, they were Columbus State’s first in-person graduation events since December 2019. The ceremony for graduates in the Divisions of Arts and Sciences, and Information Systems Technology, was held at 10 a.m., while a 4 p.m. ceremony was held for graduates of the Divisions of Business and Engineering, and Health and Human Services.

More than 900 students earned degrees for Autumn Semester. In addition, an estimated 440 previous graduates from 2020 and 2021 who did not have in-person ceremonies attended.

Christie Angel, president and CEO of the YWCA Columbus, was the commencement speaker for both ceremonies. She praised the graduates for the sacrifices they made in order to persevere to earn a college degree.

Commencement slideshow.

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