University of Akron & Tri-Rivers Announce Partnership

Photo: Signing the agreement with University of Akron is, left to right: Tammi Cowell, CFO/Treasurer; Dr. Charles Speelman, Superintendent; and Glenna Plotts, Board President. Below John Wiencek, executive vice president and provost for UA can be seen signing the agreement.


The University of Akron (UA) and Tri-Rivers Career Center (TRCC) entered into an agreement that will allow Marion and surrounding area students the opportunity to complete college-level academic courses while in high school, earning valuable college course credits toward a degree at UA. The new partnership is called the Tri-Rivers Early College High School. The official signing was completed virtually at a ceremony, Monday, December 6, 2021.

“We believe all students deserve the opportunity to have access to a college education as a way to expand their future career options,” said John Wiencek, executive vice president and provost at UA. (pictured below) “The goal is to create reliable pathways that produce more college- and career-ready citizens. And we have achieved great success with this at our other Early High Schools, with more than 80% of students graduating with an associate degree within days of high school graduation. The impact of this for our students and our expanded communities is significant.”

“This program will offer an unprecedented opportunity for qualified students to earn a FREE Associate Degree from the University of Akron while completing their high school experience at Tri-Rivers Career Center,” according to Dr. Charles Speelman, superintendent for Tri-Rivers. “Each Associate Degree has a path to a Bachelor’s Degree with additional education opportunities at The University of Akron and other institutions across Ohio. If a student plans to go to college, this is an opportunity to learn technical skills, attain industry certifications, prepare for a career, and earn a college degree upon graduation from high school at no cost.”

The new partnership formed between UA and Tri-Rivers is a bold approach to education that blends high school and college in a rigorous yet supportive program, shortening the time it takes to complete a high school diploma and the first two years of college.

Early College High School students will earn technical credits through their career technical program and complete their academic general education requirements in the Center’s distance learning lab where they will connect with UA faculty. The program provides a personalized educational plan that works with the high school schedule, has strong support systems built in, is completely tuition-free for families, and shortens the time it takes for a student to complete a degree.

The program begins in the fall of 2022 with a cohort of around 30 students. Tri-Rivers will start accepting applications for the Early College High School program with AU in January.

This is the University’s fifth early high school partnership in Ohio, and the first one outside of its regular service area. The others are located at the Portage Lakes Career Center in Uniontown (2016), Barberton High School (2017), the RG Drage Career Center in Massillon (2018), and on the UA Campus (Akron Early College High School – 2007).

Tri-Rivers and the University of Akron will reach out to area sophomores with more details and application information in January.







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