Cincinnati State automotive program receives $1.2 million gift from Kenwood Dealer Group

The Cincinnati State automotive program has received a gift of more than $1.2 million from the Kenwood Dealer Group, one of Greater Cincinnati’s largest auto groups, to help modernize and expand the program.

The gift will help to reduce the severe shortage of auto technicians needed to service and repair gas, hybrid, and electric vehicles.

The gift was announced on November 16, 2023, at a press conference on Clifton Campus. Media at the event included TV stations WLWT and Fox19, and the Cincinnati Business Courier (click to download PDF).

“Our automotive program has a long-standing reputation for producing outstanding graduates,” said Cincinnati State President Monica Posey. “This extraordinary gift by Kenwood Dealer Group will be instrumental in taking the program to new heights.”

The 10-year partnership includes funds for scholarships, state-of-the-art training equipment, vehicles, and naming rights for the program, which will be known as the Kenwood Dealer Group School of Automotive Technology at Cincinnati State.

The Automotive Technology program offers an associate degree and a 1-year certificate. Graduates are prepared to take certification exams offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Dewayne Vaught, CFO of Kenwood Dealer Group (right), talked to students about job opportunities

As part of the agreement, Kenwood Dealer Group will also help recruit new students from throughout the Tri-State. Graduates will be free to seek employment wherever they choose, including opportunities at Kenwood Dealer Group, which has 14 dealerships and about 1,000 employees.

“We intend to attract more students by raising the awareness of just how lucrative a career in the automotive field can be,” said Dave Fay, director of fixed operations for Kenwood Dealer Group.

“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.”

Robert Reichert, CEO of Kenwood Dealer Group, said at the press conference, “I think Cincinnati State is the most under appreciated educational institution in the city. I’m proud and excited that we can be part of a program that can prepare these techs for a rewarding career, no matter where they’re employed.” 

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. According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, there are about 370 openings each year for automotive technicians.

“I’ve been here 16 years and we’ve always had more jobs available than graduates to fill them,” said Chuck Butler, chair of the Automotive program. “We offer the most in-depth training in the region. 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. Kenwood Dealer Group is helping us up our game.”

At the press conference, Chuck added, “I think Cincinnati State has been that secret on the hill for the last half century, and maybe today people are gonna find out about it.”