Cincinnati State received a gift of more than $1.2 million to expand and modernize the technical and community college’s automotive program.
The donation from the Kenwood Dealer Group – one of Greater Cincinnati’s largest auto groups – will go toward student scholarships, state-of-the-art training equipment and vehicles. It also goes toward naming rights for the program, which will be known as the Kenwood Dealer Group School of Automotive Technology at Cincinnati State.
Robert Reichert, CEO of Kenwood Dealer Group, called Cincinnati State the “most under-appreciated educational institution in the city.”
The goal of the 10-year partnership is to reduce the severe shortage of auto technicians needed to service and repair gas, hybrid and electric vehicles.
“Our automotive program has a long-standing reputation for producing outstanding graduates,” Cincinnati State President Monica Posey said Thursday during a press conference on the school’s Clifton campus. “This extraordinary gift by Kenwood Dealer Group will be instrumental in taking the program to new heights.”
Cincinnati State’s automotive technology program offers an associate degree and a one-year certificate. Graduates are prepared to take certification exams offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, more broadly known as ASE.
As part of this new agreement, Kenwood Dealer Group will also help recruit new students from throughout the Tri-State. Cincinnati State’s automotive program currently enrolls about 75 students annually, but there is room for growth based on the regional and national need for more automotive technicians.
Chuck Butler, chair of the automotive program, has been at Cincinnati State for 16 years. He said there’ve always been more jobs available than graduates to fill them.
“Now, with so many hybrids and EVs, students need to get an even stronger electrical base to go along with their mechanical skills. That’s where we want to take the program,” Butler said. “Kenwood Dealer Group is helping us up our game.”
Moving forward, marketing for students will focus on raising awareness about how lucrative a career in the automotive field can be, according to Dave Fay, director of fixed operations for Kenwood Dealer Group.
Graduates of the program will be free to seek employment wherever they choose, including opportunities at Kenwood Dealer Group, which has 14 dealerships and about 1,000 employees, Fay said.
“The students currently coming out of Cincinnati State are top notch compared to similar programs, and with the resources that this agreement provides, we can increase job readiness for graduates who will be even more productive when they join the workforce,” Fay added.