Grand Island’s College Park is partnering with the University of Nebraska at Kearney to bring expanded educational opportunities to central Nebraska.
UNK and College Park finalized an agreement earlier this month that reestablishes the university’s presence in the center for higher education and affirms its commitment to supporting and growing the greater Grand Island area.
“We are thrilled to once again be part of the Grand Island community. This remarkable partnership will expand UNK programming within the excellent facilities at College Park, allowing us to meet academic needs in the city and throughout the region,” said Charlie Bicak, UNK senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.
The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating UNK’s partnership with College Park at 10 a.m. Friday. The event will be hosted in the Hornady-Marshall Theater at College Park.
Featured speakers will be UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen, College Park Executive Director L.J. McCormick, College Park Board Chairwoman Jodi Rauert and Bicak.
Through its College Park location, UNK will work with Grand Island-area businesses and high schools, Central Community College and other community organizations to provide education and training that prepares students to begin or advance in their careers. This includes academic advising, undergraduate and graduate courses, certificate programs, workshops and seminars.
Other opportunities include fine arts performances and community engagement activities.
“Our programming will be driven by the needs of the Grand Island community,” said Peter Longo, a political science professor and associate vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at UNK. “We will work with our partners there to be strategic in our offerings with an ultimate goal of assuring greater access to educational opportunities for residents of the Grand Island area.”
A partner institution when College Park opened in 1992, UNK offered educational programming there until 2003.
“Many faculty of my generation, for years, taught night classes in Grand Island. We were inspired by students from the Grand Island community,” Longo said. “We are now determined to restore that educational partnership.”
UNK is leasing two classrooms and two offices in College Park that will be used by faculty and staff. This space previously was occupied by Doane University, which ended its partnership with College Park in July.
The three-year contract, which can be extended for two additional three-year periods, also gives UNK access to a large auditorium, meeting room and library/media center within the 55,000-square-foot educational facility.
McCormick called the agreement an investment in the Grand Island area.
“We are excited to partner with UNK to provide the much-needed programming this area needs,” McCormick said. “We are hopeful and optimistic that this will grow into a full, four-year campus for many of UNK’s degree offerings.”
Along with UNK, current partner institutions at College Park are Central Community College, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project, Hall County Extension Office, Grand Island Little Theatre and Leadership Tomorrow.
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