Born out of an internal tobacco-free policy, the Center of Excellence for Tobacco-Free Campus Policy at Ozarks Technical Community College has found itself growing beyond the mission of the community college.
And, keenly aware of the financial challenges its parent college will face, the center is spinning off the OTC’s organizational chart to become a separate not-for-profit entity renamed as the National Center for Tobacco Policy, said Ty Patterson, director of the center.
“We have enormous opportunities here,” said Patterson, noting the shift in the public health policy is in favor of tobacco-free environments, making the center and its expertise valuable to those wishing to rid tobacco use on their premises.
But there is also a challenge: The new center needs to rake in enough income and become financially self-sufficient, Patterson said.
To get started, the center has found help not only in its former parent college but also in Drury University, a private, liberal arts college in Springfield.
Each school has pledged to contribute $48,500 — $18,500 this school year and another $30,000 for the 2011-2012 year — to the center to help it get launched, Patterson said.
In the past years, the community college had been setting aside $25,000 to $28,000 in its budget each year to operate the center, Patterson said.
“I think that’s phenomenal,” said Patterson of Drury’s contributions.
Matt Miller, director of wellness and fitness at Drury, said the private college has found a worthy cause in the new center.
“We felt it was appropriate and consistent with Drury’s newly established mission on wellness and fitness to be involved,” said Miller, noting wellness is one of Drury’s six strategic goals.
Miller, who served on the center’s advisory committee when it was affiliated with OTC and will work for the new organization as a co-director, described the contributions by Drury and OTC as seed money intended to be repaid.
The financial assistance will give the center about 1 1/2 years to find other income sources, Patterson said.
Corporate partnerships are a likely answer, and the center will continue to generate revenue from workshops and consulting services, Patterson said.
The center has dropped the word “campus” from its name, an indication the center will expand the scope of its clients, Patterson said.