By Jill Kelley, Dayton Daily News
CENTERVILLE — The school at 555 E. Alex Bell Road may have a new name, but it is the same college and owned by the same company.
"The only modification was a name change," said Terry Farris, director of administration and compliance for Fortis College, which used to be called RETS College.
"Our corporation — Education Affiliates in Baltimore, which has 50-plus schools — wanted to brand the name," Farris said. "Fortis stands for strength, and we believe there is strength in education."
The name change for the proprietary school, a privately owned for-profit institution, quietly was made official April 1.
"It's something we were working on for months, but the community wasn't aware of it," he said.
What is new about the institution itself is that it has plans to expand into the nearby Cross Pointe Shopping Center, 101 E. Alex Bell Road.
Fortis will occupy the 22,000-square-foot space formerly owned by Sears.
The main campus, which is 56,800 square feet, is where all classes and labs currently are held. The school has 1,157 students enrolled locally and another 860 enrolled in its online component, which is based in Florida.
Farris said the school, which has a diverse population and is considered nontraditional, had an increase in students in late 2009.
"We had our surge come from retraining, many from GM," he said, adding that students at Fortis are continually enrolled so that they can re-enter the workforce more quickly.
Depending on how quickly construction is complete, Farris said select classes should be held at Cross Pointe starting in January.
Farris said there will be new programs held at Cross Pointe and current programs that will be moved over.
The HVAC program is one set to move to Cross Pointe, and the space vacated by that program at the main campus is expected to be filled by a new, high-tech simulation lab for the nursing program. That could be operational by mid-2011.
Practical nursing is the school's largest program, according to Farris, while the second most popular is applied science and the third is HVAC.
Fortis also has a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association.
Farris said he would like to challenge the idea that for-profit schools are in it primarily for the money.
"Our goal is for students to learn," he said. Farris, who lives in Bellbrook and is a native of West Virginia, said the school wants to continue to be a part of the community.
"Realistically, for this campus to survive, we all have to work together," he said.