Statement on Senate Resolution 6 Commission Report

Statement of the PA Commission for Community Colleges
on Senate Resolution 6 Commission Report

Yesterday’s SR6 report outlined serious concerns about the future of First Responders that Pennsylvania community colleges could help address.

First Responder training at Pennsylvania community colleges is among the most respected in the country. Leveraging the expertise of community colleges in our Commonwealth to address this crisis could offer potential solutions to problems outlined in the report.

Pennsylvania Community Colleges Celebrate Community College Completion Challenge Week

HARRISBURG— The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges held a press conference at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College today to celebrate Pennsylvania’s third “Pennsylvania Community College Completion Challenge (PAC4) Week,” observed from October 16-20.

As part of PAC4 Week, student members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapters have planned events at Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to encourage their classmates to complete their certificate or associate’s degree before leaving community college to transfer to another institution of higher learning or to enter the workforce.

Administrators, trustees, faculty and staff have also been asked to sign the pledge, committing themselves to do whatever they can to facilitate completion of student credentials.  More than 10,000 students, faculty, trustees and staff have signed the pledge since the first PAC4 week in 2015.

On October 3, Representative Jim Marshall, co-chair of the bipartisan House Community College Caucus, introduced a resolution recognizing Pennsylvania Community College Completion Challenge Week. The measure was adopted by the House unanimously. Today, the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing Pennsylvania Community College Completion Challenge week, introduced by Senator Bob Mensch, co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Community College Caucus.

“Pennsylvania’s community colleges are grateful for the leadership of our Community College Caucus co-chairs Senator Bob Mensch, Senator Lisa Boscola, Representative Jim Marshall and Representative James Roebuck and for the support of the Community College Caucus in spearheading awareness of this and other community college issues in the Legislature,” said Dr. John J. “Ski” Sygielski, President of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College and co-chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.  “It is our hope that PA Community College Completion Challenge Week can help to create a culture of completion at our community colleges – so that our students, their families, and our communities can reap the benefits of an educated workforce and citizenry.”

Studies show that students who complete an associate’s degree earn, on average, $500,000 more throughout their lifetime than those who only have a high school diploma. A  whitepaper from the Lumina Foundation showed that the benefits of degree attainment go far beyond earning power – they are also more likely to remain employed and to have a job that provides health insurance and retirement benefits. On a personal level, they are more likely to report they are in good health, more likely to vote, more likely to volunteer and donate to charitable causes, and their children are more likely to continue their education past the high school level.

PAC4 Week is made possible in part by the support of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which launched the national Phi Theta Kappa Community College Completion Corps in 2010.


The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a voluntary membership association for Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  Its members include the college presidents, members of the colleges’ boards of trustees, and key college administrators.  The Commission represents the interests of and advocates for the collective needs of the community colleges to federal and state policymakers.  For more information, please visit


PACCC Statement on Middle Class Task Force

For Immediate Release                                             Media Contact:  Elizabeth Bolden

September 29, 2017                                                   P: (717)232-7584

 Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges Statement on Middle Class Task Force

The Wolf Administration’s convening of the Middle Class Task Force is a promising development, but the task force should also incorporate current research into their findings as they seek to understand how to help Pennsylvania’s middle class.  Higher education and job training are key to supporting both Pennsylvania’s employers and workers.

According to the 2016 Pew Foundation Study, “The State of American Jobs,” more than half (54%) of adults in the labor force say it will be essential for them to get training and develop new skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.  Half of Americans say the purpose of college should be to teach job-related skills, and 85% of respondents rank “soft skills” as critical. These are all areas in which community colleges excel.

Without a doubt, the way the state can better support Pennsylvanians who want to get and keep a Job that Pays is by providing them access to high-quality education and workforce training programs that provide them with the skills that employers need, and which Americans rank as important.

But it has become increasingly difficult for the middle class to access these education and training programs because of cost.  Public postsecondary education in Pennsylvania is among the most expensive in the nation. The average tuition cost at Pennsylvania’s public community colleges is unfortunately among the highest in the nation, in part because of the low levels of state support. An August 2017 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that higher education spending in Pennsylvania, when adjusted for inflation, decreased by $2,533 per student from 2008-2017 – and ranked 4th among states in the largest proportion of cuts.

Despite community colleges’ critical role in assisting Pennsylvanians – and particularly those with limited financial resources – access life-changing higher education opportunities, the Commonwealth’s FY 17-18 budget failed to provide any funding increase for the community college operating and capital appropriations.  The funding for the colleges was stagnant.  At the same time, the budget increased other education-related appropriations by $442M.

In just three years, it is projected that sixty-three percent of Pennsylvania’s jobs will require at least an associate’s degree or some training beyond high school. Yet many middle class families and students struggle to pay tuition at one of the state’s community colleges, and wonder why paying for a community college education requires them to work and borrow more.  The state’s lagging support for community colleges increases cost of attendance, and reduces the middle class’ ability to obtain a life-changing postsecondary credential.

We understand the Administration’s imperative to not leave the middle class behind. The best way to provide access to the education and training these individuals need is to invest in the providers of that training:  Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  The Commission urges policymakers to reverse the troubling trend of the Commonwealth’s disinvestment in public higher education, thereby providing all Pennsylvanians – and especially those in the middle class – with affordable higher education opportunities.


The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a voluntary membership association for Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  Its members include the college presidents, members of the colleges’ boards of trustees, and key college administrators.  The Commission represents the interests of and advocates for the collective needs of the community colleges to federal and state policymakers.  For more information, please visit

Communications and Social Media RFP

The purpose of this RFP is to solicit proposals from an experienced consultant to assist the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges with communications and social media efforts. The consultant will be
expected to:

  • Work with Commission staff to develop editorial calendars
  • Write, edit and implement content
  • Provide reports and analytics as applicable

You may find the RFP here (pdf version). Word doc here.  Proposals should be submitted by 5:00PM EST, September 8, 2017.

Focus on: Luzerne County Community College

Each month, the Commission highlights one of Pennsylvania’s 14 public community colleges.

This month, we share information about Luzerne County Community College.

PA’s Community Colleges Honor Exceptional Students

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) honored the 23rd Annual All-Pennsylvania Academic Team at an awards banquet in Harrisburg. The awards recognize an exceptional group of community college students who have achieved excellence and demonstrated a commitment to their colleges and communities.

The 2017 All-PA Team consists of 49 outstanding community college scholars from across the Commonwealth. Students must have completed at least 36 credits at a community college and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher to be considered for these awards.

“The Commission congratulates these outstanding student scholars on their academic achievements.” said Elizabeth Bolden, President and CEO of PACCC. “By enrolling in a high-quality program at a community college, these students have taken an important step toward realizing their education and career goals.”

Pennsylvania’s community colleges partner with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities to provide scholarships to All-PA Team members at PASSHE institutions, providing two years of tuition at any PASSHE school.

Thirty-one of this year’s team members intend to transfer to PASSHE institutions, and many intend to pursue postgraduate education in a wide range of fields.

The student receiving the highest All-USA Community College Academic Team application score in each state is named a Coca-Cola New Century Scholar. Scott Duffy of Delaware County Community College is this year’s recipient of the honor, which comes with a $2,000 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Educational Foundation. Duffy was also named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team, an honor bestowed on only 20 students across the country. All-USA Community College Academic Team members also receive a $5,000 scholarship.

The Pennsylvania awardees also include 2 Coca-Cola Silver Scholars, who will receive $1,250 scholarships, and 2 Coca-Cola Bronze Scholars, who will receive $1,000 scholarships.

The All-USA Community College Academic Team is sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, a leading provider of college and university bookstore services, with additional support provided by PTK and the AACC. The New Century Scholars program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, PTK and the AACC. Students nominated to the national All-USA Community College Academic Team are automatically named to the All-State Community College Academic Teams. The programs share common eligibility criteria, which includes enrollment at a community college, a minimum 3.5 grade point average, completion of a minimum of 36 college-level credits, and being on track to receive an associate or bachelor’s degree.

The following students are members of the All-Pennsylvania Academic Team:

 Community College of Allegheny County

Josephine Albrecht, Aspinwall

Jared Baran-Cummings, Monongahela

Ashley Campbell, East Pittsburgh

Gerad Greco, Pittsburgh

Alison McMutrie, Pittsburgh

Samantha Musser, Pittsburgh

Stella Obiakor, Pittsburgh

Gina Ruggieri, Pittsburgh

Community College of Beaver County

Kelsey Hudacsek, Aliquippa

Leslie Powell, Freedom

Bucks County Community College

Kimberly Konczyk, Warminster

Matthew Stewart, Churchville

Butler County Community College

Lauren Denny, Butler (Coca-Cola Bronze Scholar)

Tarah Schmidt, Parker (Coca-Cola Bronze Scholar)

Delaware County Community College

Gina DiLuzio, Ridley Park

Scott Duffy, Collingdale (All-USA Scholar, Coca-Cola New Century Scholar)

HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

Godiva Biayi, York

Michaela Bowers, Harrisburg

Minh Do, Lancaster

Sarah Hummel, Cleona

Laura Hutson, Palmyra

Giuliano Oliveira Lima, York

Elizabeth Migatulski, Boiling Springs

Megan Pomeroy, Shippensburg

Emma Semrau, Annville

Lehigh Carbon Community College

Theresa Buckley, Allentown

Madison Marshall, Schnecksville

Luzerne County Community College

Alyssah Dombek, Glen Lyon

Stephanie Novitski, Nanticoke

 Montgomery County Community College

Samuel Cocchimiglio, Gilbertsville

Ericka Klarman, Phoenixville

Jacqueline Smith, Collegeville

Charles Vitabile, Gilbertsville

Northampton Community College

Lori Bloch, Stroudsburg

Fitzgerald Joseph, Henryville

Michael Rex, Walnutport

Kathryn Seaton, Nazareth

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

Rachel Blackburn, Altoona

Nicholas Braniff, Revloc

Sadie Carney, Johnstown (Coca-Cola Silver Scholar)

Hunter Connor, Boswell

Mary Anne Cowfer, Tyrone

Kylee Doyle, Hollsopple

Jessica Shaffer, Ebensburg

Community College of Philadelphia

Cedric Jouin, Philadelphia

Reading Area Community College

David Meyer, West Reading

Heather Murray, Sinking Spring (Coca-Cola Silver Scholar)

Westmoreland County Community College

Shelby Kimmick, Youngwood

Joshua Vincent, Dunbar


The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a voluntary membership association for Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  Its members include the college presidents, members of the colleges’ boards of trustees, and key college administrators.  The Commission represents the interests of and advocates for the collective needs of the community colleges to federal and state policymakers.  For more information, please visit

PA Commission for Community Colleges Board Elects Executive Committee

HARRISBURG – The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) elected new officers to its Executive Committee at the Commission’s Annual Meeting on April 3 in Harrisburg.

Named as officers to the Executive Committee of PACCC’s Board of Directors are: Chair Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt, President of Bucks County Community College; Vice Chair Dr. John J. “Ski” Sygielski, President of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College; Secretary Kimberly D. Geyer, Trustee of Butler County Community College; and Treasurer Donald Heller, Trustee of Delaware County Community College.

“These Board members are dedicated to the vision of Pennsylvania’s community colleges – to increase the workforce readiness skills and educational attainment level of Pennsylvanians to create a productive workforce and vibrant economy,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President and CEO of PACCC. “I look forward to working with them to advance the Commission and Colleges’ goals.”

The Board of Directors is the governing body of PACCC. Executive Committee members serve two-year terms, beginning on July 1, 2017.

“The Commission Board is in capable hands with Dr. Shanblatt at the helm,” said Thomas L. Leary, outgoing PACCC Board Chair and President of Luzerne County Community College. “Stephanie has a clear understanding of the strengths and challenges faced by Pennsylvania’s community colleges, and will be a strong leader.”

Shanblatt’s term as Vice Chair of the PACCC board concludes on June 30. She is the fourth president of Bucks County Community College, having joined the college in October 2012 following a unanimous vote by the college’s board of trustees.

Prior to coming to Bucks, Shanblatt served for 13 years in leadership roles at Lansing Community College in Michigan, the last three years as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs.  She serves on the Bucks County Workforce Development Board and the Board of Directors of the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership.

Shanblatt earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine and her B.S. in Chemistry from the same university.

“Pennsylvania’s community colleges are the largest public provider of higher education and workforce training in the state, and I am looking forward to working collaboratively with my fellow college presidents to ensure our future success,” said Shanblatt.  “Together with the Commission, we can ensure our colleges – and students – are successful for years to come.”

Dr. John J. “Ski” Sygielski begins his first term as a member of the PACCC’s Board of Directors as Vice Chair. He became the seventh president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, in July 2011. His previous appointments include president of Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, and president of Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, Virginia. He began his community college administration and college teaching career at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Ski is the past chairman of the board for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and AACC’s 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. He is currently a member of Harrisburg Rotary and serves on the boards of the Harrisburg Boys and Girls Club, Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce and Pennsylvania’s Workforce Investment Board.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, two master’s degrees in business and a doctorate in education. In addition, he has an honorary associate degree.

This is Secretary Kimberly D. Geyer’s second appointment to the PACCC Board of Directors. She became a member of the Butler County Community College Board of Trustees in July 2011, and moved to ex officio status on the Board when she was elected Butler County Commissioner in November 2015. She has been involved in public education for many years, serving on the Mars Area School Board for 12 years, and on the Midwestern Intermediate Unit 4 Board of Directors.  In 2010, Geyer was recognized by the Pennsylvania Senate for contributions to education policy throughout the Commonwealth.

Geyer is a graduate of Butler County Community College where she earned an associate degree in liberal arts.

The 2017-19 term marks Donald Heller’s first term as Treasurer of the PACCC Board of Directors. Heller has been a member of the Delaware County Community College Board of Trustees since 2014, and currently serves as vice chair. As Senior Vice Dean of the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, he manages all operating and financial functions of the college and oversees TUTV, the Temple University cable television channel. With more than 30 years business management and finance experience, especially in the entertainment and cable business, Heller also serves as a business development, financing, and operations management consultant.

Previously, Heller was Assistant Dean of Temple University’s College of Engineering. Prior to joining the university, he spent 20 years in cable television as Vice President and General Manager of the PRISM network and as Vice President at the parent company of Suburban Cable Lenfest Communications developing international expansion.

A native of Springfield Township in Delaware County, Heller holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a strong commitment to the community. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League (PAL) Board and Chair of the PAL Scholarship Committee and Foundation. He was an elected local school board member for 12 years, serving as Board President and Treasurer prior to joining the Delaware County Community College Board of Trustees. He also served four years in the United States Air Force.




PA Community College Supporters Gather at Capitol

HARRISBURG – Hundreds of students, trustees, faculty and staff from Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges joined together at the Capitol today to advocate for a state budget that includes sufficient state operating and capital funding for the community colleges – collectively, the largest provider of public higher education and workforce training in the Commonwealth.

The colleges – which served nearly 327,000 students from all 67 counties in the state last year, are currently funded below 2008-09 levels, even before accounting for inflation.

“Community colleges, with a mission to provide accessible, quality, affordable higher education and training throughout Pennsylvania, are key to the Commonwealth’s future success,” said Tom Leary, President of Luzerne County Community College and Board Chair for the Commission.  “Providing increased funds for community colleges in this year’s state budget would recognize both our importance to the Commonwealth’s education sector and the workforce, as well as the colleges’ ongoing efforts to evaluate and respond to local community and workforce needs.”

In 2015-16, they provided a foundation for more than 34,000 students who sought transfer to four-year institutions, 81% of those who remained in the state. Through WEDNetPA,   our colleges provided more than $10 million in customized training for employers, and trained more than 18,000 workers. In the same school year, the colleges conferred more than 17,000 awards statewide – an 18% increase over the awards conferred in 2008-09.

“Community colleges offer the most affordable and accessible path to higher education for students. Community colleges serve the largest number of students seeking higher education in our state that works to create job ready Pennsylvanians.” said Rep. James R. Roebuck, who serves as the Democratic Chairman of the House Education Committee, the Democratic Chair of the House Community College Caucus and also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Community College of Philadelphia.  “The education and job training provided by community colleges is vital to the Commonwealth’s economic development.”

Representative Jim Marshall serves as the Republican Chair of the House Community College Caucus, and also voiced his support for the colleges. “Community colleges are cost-effective for both students and communities, and can nimbly respond to workforce and employer needs, as shown by the transformation underway in my own district as the region prepares for the coming Shell petrochemical plant,” said Marshall.

In addition to the rally, approximately 200 Pennsylvania community college students spent the day visiting with their local legislators to advocate on behalf of the community colleges’ FY 17-18 budget request.