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PACCC Board Elects Executive Committee

PA Commission for Community Colleges Board Elects Executive Committee

HARRISBURG – The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) elected new offers to its Executive Committee at the Commission’s Annual Meeting on April 13 in Harrisburg.

Named as officers to the Executive Committee of PACCC’s Board of Directors are: Chair Thomas P. Leary, President of Luzerne County Community College; Vice Chair Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt, President of Bucks County Community College; Secretary Kimberly D. Geyer, Trustee of Butler County Community College; and Treasurer Robert Fehnel, Trustee of Northampton Community College.

“This Board of Directors includes leaders who are committed to expanding student success, access and affordability across the state, and I look forward to working with them over the next two years,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President and CEO of PACCC.

The Board of Directors is the governing body of PACCC. Executive Committee members serve two-year terms, beginning on July 1, 2015.

“I am pleased to hand over leadership of the Commission Board to Tom Leary,” said Dr. Nicholas C. Neupauer, outgoing PACCC Board Chair and President of Butler County Community College. “He has a clear understanding of the issues faced by Pennsylvania’s community colleges, as evidenced by his long tenure at Luzerne County Community College, and is passionate about meeting the needs of LCCC students and the community.”

Leary, whose term as Vice Chair of the PACCC board concludes on June 30, began his career at Luzerne County Community College more than thirty years ago as Assistant Director of Admissions. During his career, he has served in several senior leadership positions.

In February, 2008, Leary was inaugurated as the sixth President of the College. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor of History and Political Science.

“I look forward to working with my fellow presidents in our continued efforts to ensure that a community college education remains the most accessible and affordable option for receiving a quality post-secondary education,” said Leary. “With the support of the Commission, we will carry on our work of identifying and implementing measures to support the success of our students across the state.”

Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt begins her first term as a member of PACCC’s Board of Directors as Vice Chair. Shanblatt 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. Shanblatt was also a member of the National Advisory Committee on Improving Outcomes for Men of Color in Community Colleges.

This is Secretary Kimberly D. Geyer’s first appointment to the PACCC Board of Directors. She has been a member of the Butler County Community College Board of Trustees since July 2011, and has served on the Trustee Finance Committee and the Trustee Quality Assessment Committee. Geyer is also a member of the BC3 Education Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors. 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 Unite 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. She currently serves as Vice-President at Geyer Construction and as a Policy Analyst and Consultant at Mars Research & Retrieval Services.

The 2015-17 term marks Treasurer Robert Fehnel’s second election as Treasurer of the PACCC Board of Directors. He was elected chairman of the Northampton Community College (NCC) Board of Trustees in August of 2014, after serving as vice chairman for ten years. Fehnel has served on the NCC Board for nearly thirty years, including 25 as chair of the Board’s Finance and College Facilities Committee.

Fehnel’s commitment to community service and public education can also be seen in his 28 years of service on local school boards, including 20 years as president of the Wilson Area School Board and his recent election to the Easton Area School Board. He is a graduate of Northampton Community College, where he earned an associate degree in applied science. He is employed as the director of print and mail operations for Berkheimer One Source in Bethlehem, PA.

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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 www.pacommunitycolleges.org.

Two PA Community College Students Receive Prestigious National Award

HARRISBURG – Two community college students from Pennsylvania – Rachel Lee from Reading Area Community College (RACC) and Aaron Rosengarten from Northampton Community College (NCC) – are among 20 students nationwide who have been named to the 2015 All-USA Community College Academic Team by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

The honor, which comes with a $2,500 scholarship, recognizes high-achieving two-year college students who demonstrate academic excellence and intellectual rigor combined with leadership and service that extends their education beyond the classroom to benefit society.

Sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, with support from the American Association of Community Colleges, this year’s winners – who must have been nominated by his or her college – were chosen from a pool of more than 1,500 students nominated by more than 800 community colleges.

Lee and Rosengarten were both named to the 2015 All-Pennsylvania Academic Team by the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC) and Phi Theta Kappa and were honored at an awards banquet in Harrisburg last week. Rosengarten was also named PA’s New Century Scholar by PACCC and Phi Theta Kappa.

“Rachel and Aaron are prime examples of what community college students can accomplish in Pennsylvania,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of PACCC. “We are so proud of their achievements and look forward to seeing where their future academic endeavors may lead.”

Rachel Lee, who graduates from RACC on May 8, is a distinguished scholar who has already received prestigious academic accolades. She was named “Outstanding Presenter” at the Beacon Conference for Two Year Scholars in both 2013 and 2014 for her research into intentional communities and the culture of competition, as well as schizophrenia’s manifestation in individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Lee aspires to become an adolescent psychologist who works with teenagers who suffer from addiction, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and/or stressful home environments. She is planning on continuing her education by obtaining a bachelor’s degree, but has not yet decided upon the institution at this time.

Rosengarten graduates from NCC on May 21, and will attend West Chester University in the fall, where he intends to study political science. He aspires to become a constitutional lawyer, and then seek public office, eventually earning a doctorate. When he graduated from high school in 2012, Rosengarten was accepted to several other institutions of higher learning, but ultimately chose NCC as the smartest financial decision. At NCC, he was a member of the school’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter and is this year’s chapter President. He also served on the college’s Academic Appeals and Disciplinary Committees, helped start NCC’s Ban the Bottle Initiative, and was involved with launching NCC’s Day of Service, which encourages NCC students to volunteer in the local community.

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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 www.pacommunitycolleges.org.

PA Community College Advocates Converge on Capitol for Annual Lobby Day

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For Immediate Release  

Media Contact:  Danielle Gross

P: (717)232-7584 C: (717)418-9001

dgross@pacommunitycolleges.org

April 14, 2015

 

PA Community College Advocates Converge on Capitol for Annual Lobby Day 

HARRISBURG – Hundreds of students, trustees, faculty and staff from Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges joined together at the Capitol today to advocate an adequate funding level in the upcoming FY 15-16 budget as part of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges’ annual Lobby Day.

The colleges are asking for a $15 million increase in state funding in this year’s budget, which will allow them to continue to offer quality academic and workforce programming.

“Pennsylvania’s community colleges play a key role in the state’s education and workforce development systems,” said Dr. Nick Neupauer, President of Butler County Community College and Board Chair for the Commission.  “The colleges offer accessible, affordable, high quality education and workforce programs in communities across the state and contribute to the Commonwealth’s economic growth and global competitiveness. The colleges depend on state appropriations to continue their work and to ensure that a postsecondary education remains an affordable option for thousands of students across the Commonwealth.”

In the 2013-14 academic year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges enrolled 344,000 students from all 67 counties in the state, making community colleges the largest providers of higher education in Pennsylvania.  In that same year, they provided a foundation for more than 25,000 students who sought transfer to four-year institutions, and provided workforce training for more than 38,000 Pennsylvanians to either acquire new skills or upgrade existing skills.

“Community Colleges are an affordable launching pad for students as they begin their pathway to a career,” said Senator Lisa Boscola, Democratic Chair of the Senate Community College Caucus. “They are also a re-launching pad for individuals that have to change careers, or need continued learning at any age. So I will continue to work with the Community Colleges Commission and my colleagues here in Harrisburg, to find adequate funding solutions and resources for these invaluable schools.”

Community colleges provide an estimated $41.84 in direct and indirect economic benefits for each dollar in public investment by the state’s taxpayers, which Senator Lloyd Smucker calls “one of the greatest returns on investment of any educational institution.”

“Community colleges are connecting students with jobs,” said Smucker.  And not just any jobs—to high-paying, high-priority jobs, where employers are struggling to find skilled workers.  Community colleges are one of the most powerful engines of economic development in Pennsylvania.”

Representative Jim Marshall serves as the Republican Chair of the House Community College Caucus, and voiced his support for the colleges. “It is clear that community colleges are a cost-effective gateway to future success for countless students across the Commonwealth,” said Marshall.

In addition to the rally, approximately 300 Pennsylvania community college students spent the day visiting with their local legislators to advocate on behalf of the community colleges’ FY 15-16 budget request. The colleges also set up displays highlighting the varied, cutting-edge subjects that community college students Pennsylvania are studying, including 3-D printing, unmanned aerial vehicles, teaching STEM through guitar-making, and a robot that students have programmed to do a variety of movements, including the “Thriller” dance.

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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 www.pacommunitycolleges.org.

 

PA Community Colleges Honor Exceptional Students

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For Immediate Release                                            

Media Contact:  Danielle Gross

P: (717)232-7584 C: (717)418-9001

dgross@pacommunitycolleges.org

April 14, 2015                                                                 

PA Community Colleges Honor Exceptional Students

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges honored the 21st Annual All-Pennsylvania Academic Team at an awards banquet on Monday, April 13 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 2015 All-PA Team consists of 44 outstanding community college scholars from across the Commonwealth. They are an exceptionally diverse group, ranging from a teenager who will receive her high school diploma and associate’s degree within a span of two weeks, to a grandmother of four. These students are a testament to the community colleges’ mission that was created over 50 years ago: to provide an accessible and affordable path to higher education for all Pennsylvanians.

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.

PASSHE Chancellor Frank T. Brogan describes the All-PA Team as “an exceptional program,” adding, “Since 2001, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education has assisted nearly 300 students through this program. We are proud to be a participant, and to be able to provide tuition assistance to team members who will go on to attend one of our 14 universities.”

Twenty nine of this year’s team members intend to transfer to PASSHE institutions, and 35 of them 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. Aaron Rosengarten of Northampton Community College is this year’s recipient of the honor, and a $2,000 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Educational Foundation.

“Northampton has excellent resources and fosters a supportive environment. If it weren’t for the numerous opportunities at the college, I may not have been where I am at right now,” said Rosengarten. “Being nominated for the PA Academic Team was a very proud moment because it’s such a prestigious award that recognizes not only academic achievement, but community involvement as well.”

The Team also includes 5 Coca-Cola Gold Scholars, representing 10% of the total gold scholars nationwide, who will receive $1,500 scholarships, as well as 3 Coca-Cola Silver Scholars, who will receive $1,250 scholarships.

Dr. Karen Morris-Priester, an alumna of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, served as the evening’s Distinguished Alumni Speaker. Dr. Morris-Priester is an anesthesiologist at Coordinated Health in Allentown who grew up in a housing project in Harrisburg, and aspired to be the first in her family to attend college, a dream that was put on hold as she started a family. Years later, as a single mother of five with a full-time job, she enrolled in nursing school at HACC, moving on to York College of Pennsylvania for a bachelor’s degree. In 2007, she became the first grandmother to graduate from Yale School of Medicine, and was honored on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Dr. Morris Priester, who devotes a substantial portion of her time to mentoring young people interested in pursuing higher education, shared the challenges she faced on her path to a medical degree. “”Life can knock you down. It’s up to you whether you stay there,” said Priester.

The following students were honored at Monday’s banquet:

Community College of Allegheny County

Hashim Ahmed

Jennifer Alspaugh, Coca-Cola Gold Scholar

Emily Burks

Lianna Coholich

Cassie Gartin, Coca-Cola Gold Scholar.

Megan McMonagle

Eric Reiche

Melissa Suehr

Community College of Beaver County

Katie Fisher

Danielle Suman

Bucks County Community College

Marie Helstrom

Christina Smith

Butler County Community College

Andrea Dean

Jenna Massaro

Delaware County Community College

Elizabeth Betancourt

Nathanaelle Dubreuil

HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

Bryce Detweiler

Quyen Do

Christine Hallman

Theresa Kings

Darice Mayhew

Lehigh Carbon Community College

Michael Colarusso, Coca-Cola Gold Scholar

Chelsea Simonson

Luzerne County Community College

Jamie Derr

Ariel Harro

Montgomery County Community College

Kendra Houck, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar

Heidi Hunsberger, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar

Caitlin Moser

Angelina Sirak

Northampton Community College

Rachel Cimera

Steven Davanzo, Coca-Cola Gold Scholar

Carla Garis, Coca-Cola Gold Scholar

Aaron Rosengarten, Coca-Cola New Century Scholar

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

Cassidy Belle

Jennifer Biggs

Danielle Close

Michaela Hanlon

R. Patrick Lehman, Coca-Cola Silver Scholar

Community College of Philadelphia

Kouame Yannick Aka

Lizette Lewis

Reading Area Community College

Rachel Lee

Cherylann McGuire

Westmoreland County Community College

Casey Jarding

Rachael Marks

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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 www.pacommunitycolleges.org.

PA Commission for Community Colleges Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting 2015

April 13-14

April 13: Harrisburg Hilton

April 14: Lobby Day at the Capitol

Contact the Commission for more information.

PA Commission for Community Colleges’ FY 15-16 Budget Testimony (Senate)

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March 19, 2015

Testimony

Senate Appropriations Committee

FY 15-16 Community College Appropriations

 

Elizabeth A. Bolden, President & CEO, PA Commission for Community Colleges

Dr. Nick Neupauer, President, Butler County Community College and

Chair of the Board, PA Commission for Community Colleges

Dr. Ann Bieber, President, Lehigh Carbon Community College


Good afternoon Chairman Browne, Chairman Hughes, and members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Governor Wolf’s FY 15-16 Executive Budget and its impact on Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  My name is Elizabeth Bolden, and I represent the Commonwealth’s fourteen community colleges that are statutorily established under Article XIX-A of the Public School Code.  Joining me today is Dr. Nick Neupauer, President of Butler County Community College and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges and Dr. Ann Bieber, President of Lehigh Carbon Community College.

The community colleges are grateful for the continued support of Senators, and in particular the Chairmen and Members of the Appropriations and Education Committees.  The colleges appreciate your interest in, and commitment to, the role of community colleges in the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems.   Last academic year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges enrolled more than 344,000 students from all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in academic, workforce and noncredit programs.  The colleges play a vital role for the students and employers they serve, and contribute to the Commonwealth’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

Pennsylvania’s community colleges currently offer 1,384 credit programs, 62% of which are in STEM fields, and 48% of which are in High Priority Occupations identified by the state Department of Labor & Industry.  The colleges regularly evaluate workforce needs and adjust program offerings to align with those needs.  In the current academic year, the colleges are offering 44 new programs in wide-ranging fields including life sciences, mechatronics, unmanned aerial technology and culinary arts.

Two colleges, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (Penn Highlands) and Reading Area Community College (RACC) have reinstated an Associate of Applied Science degree in electric utility technology.  The Colleges are partnering with FirstEnergy Corp’s Pennsylvania utilities (Penelec, Met-Ed, West Penn Power and Pennsylvania Power) to offer the award-winning program to train the next generation of utility substation and electrical line workers. The program combines hands-on utility skills at Penelec’s training facilities with academic coursework on the Penn Highlands and RACC campuses.  The RACC program trains electrical lineworkers, a profession that in Pennsylvania has an average starting salary of $50,000 and an overall average salary of $67,000.

Last year, the community colleges also partnered directly with local employers to provide $11.6 million worth of customized training for over 37,000 Pennsylvania workers.  Through various partnerships, including WEDNetPA, over 21,000 Pennsylvania workers were trained.  These programs are essential to provide Pennsylvanians the opportunities to acquire or upgrade workplace skills.

The colleges are also committed to offering quality academic programming for students seeking an affordable pathway to a bachelor’s degree.  At the end of the 2013 academic year, over 33,000 community college students in Pennsylvania successfully transferred to other institutions to continue their studies, with more than 81% of those graduates transferring to institutions in the Commonwealth.  The colleges have strong relationships with other postsecondary education partners to ensure that students have the opportunity to continue their academic study.  Pennsylvania’s community colleges have over 2,700 transfer and articulation agreements with TAOC-participating baccalaureate institutions to ensure that students who wish to pursue a four-year degree can move seamlessly between institutions, and several colleges have partnerships with bachelor’s-granting institutions that enable students to complete a four year degree on their local community college campus. Northampton Community College and Bloomsburg University recently partnered to offer a bachelor’s of applied science degree that will enable graduates to serve as managers in STEM-related fields and is one of many examples of these innovative partnerships throughout the Commonwealth.

The colleges also serve as a center of community and economic activity in their local areas.   Our colleges partner with early childhood education providers, K-12 education, and local employers to develop and offer programs to meet local needs.  They provide more than opportunities for academic and workforce training; they serve as community centers and enhance their regions’ cultural diversity.  The colleges are among the 50 largest employers in 15 of Pennsylvania’s counties and collectively, the colleges are one of the largest 50 employers in the Commonwealth, employing more than 26,000 individuals statewide in 2013.    Community college graduates also tend to stay in their local communities after completing their degrees, with several colleges reporting that 95% of their students stay in Pennsylvania after receiving their credentials.

Governor Wolf’s proposed FY 15-16 Executive Budget is an important step in providing the necessary support and investment for postsecondary education in the Commonwealth.   The budget reflects an understanding that a postsecondary credential is essential for an individual’s long term economic security and that a community college is the most accessible, affordable path to attaining that credential.  Specifically for community colleges, the budget proposes a $15.7 million increase in the community college operating appropriation, bringing the total appropriation to $230.7 million, an increase of 7%.  The budget also proposes $48.8 million to support capital improvements at the colleges.  The Commission supports both the operating and capital funding recommendations.

The community college operating appropriation provides funds for the general operation of the colleges. These funds will allow the colleges to maintain and expand quality academic and workforce programs that are essential to the Commonwealth’s economic growth, including programs in the technology, healthcare, and natural gas industries and to keep tuition affordable for students.  For the 2013-2014 academic year, annual average tuition and fees at Pennsylvania’s community colleges totaled $3,454.  That amount is 62% less than average tuition and fees at a PASSHE institution, the second most affordable public postsecondary education option in Pennsylvania.

The Commission also urges the General Assembly to approve $48.8 million for the community college capital fund line item.  This line item supports capital improvements at the colleges by providing 50% of the funds for approved capital projects when the colleges, local sponsors, and/or private fundraising also provide a 50% match of the project cost.  This appropriation has enabled the completion of projects such as Montgomery County Community College’s Health Sciences Center, upgrades to the Community College of Philadelphia’s biology labs, and purchase of land and buildings for a permanent York Campus for HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.  At this funding level, there will still be significant unmet needs at the colleges.  A 2013 study by the architectural firm STANTEC documented that the community colleges’ infrastructure is rapidly aging and in need of more than $726 million in improvements over the next five years.  Nearly half of the projects have been identified as high priority projects by the colleges, indicating that they are critical to the continued successful operation of the college.  The list of high priority projects includes a new Workforce Training Center, upgrades to labs in STEM programs, and the expansion of e-learning environments to replace outdated classrooms.  The backlog of projects exists because nearly 97% of the capital appropriation is committed to existing projects, leaving just a few million for new projects each year.  The Commission would welcome further conversation regarding long-term funding options to support capital improvements at the colleges.

The recommended capital and operating funding levels are important to the colleges and the communities and students they serve, but they will also provide a significant return on investment for the Commonwealth.  A 2014 report from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) found that community colleges and their students added over $800 billion to the national economy. Using EMSI’s methodology, Pennsylvania’s community colleges added an estimated $16.9 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy in FY 11-12.  Every public dollar invested in community colleges provides a return on investment of nearly $42 in direct and indirect economic benefits including increased productivity, income, spending and reduced costs in social program areas such as healthcare, criminal justice and unemployment programs.

The Commission also supports the recommended appropriation at PHEAA for the PA State Grant program.  Last year, more than 28,000 community college students participated in PHEAA’s PA State Grant Program to help cover the costs of their education and even more benefitted from programs such as Ready to Succeed and PA TIP.  Despite the relative affordability of Pennsylvania community college tuition, finances can still be a barrier for potential students.  Funds available through PHEAA, combined with federal student aid and institutional aid, help to ease financial barriers and ensure access to higher education for students.

The Governor’s recommended funding for dual enrollment is also supported by the colleges. Dual enrollment provides students with an opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school, and has been shown to increase college degree attainment while reducing the time and cost to degree completion.  Pennsylvania’s community colleges have been enthusiastic partners with secondary education in offering dual enrollment opportunities for students.   Last year, more than 11,000 students participated in dual enrollment opportunities at Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  A 16-year-old high school student participating in Delaware County Community College’s (DCCC) dual enrollment program recently received college credits for mathematics courses he took at the College. The credits will allow him to skip introductory courses when he enters the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall. Another high school student took classes at DCCC through the program and completed all of her general education requirements.  As a result, this student will be able to graduate from Harcum College’s dental hygiene program one year early, with significant savings in both time and money.  Funding to support the expansion of dual enrollment will provide even more students with these educational and financial advantages.

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide testimony on the FY 15-16 Budget.   The colleges believe that investment in Pennsylvania’s community colleges provides a significant return on investment and will help Pennsylvania reach its full potential as a national leader in higher education.  Investing in the colleges will yield significant economic and societal benefits for the students and communities we serve, and contribute to the Commonwealth’s long term fiscal health and economic competitiveness.  We look forward to working with the Governor, the Chairmen, and the Members of the Committee to make these budget and policy recommendations a reality.

PA Commission for Community Colleges FY 15-16 Budget Testimony (House)

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March 19, 2015

Testimony

House Appropriations Committee

FY 15-16 Community College Appropriations

 

Elizabeth A. Bolden, President & CEO, PA Commission for Community Colleges

Dr. Nick Neupauer, President, Butler County Community College and

Chair of the Board, PA Commission for Community Colleges

Dr. John Sygielski, President, HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College


Good afternoon Chairman Adolph, Chairman Markosek, and members of the House Appropriations Committee.  Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Governor Wolf’s FY 15-16 Executive Budget and its impact on Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  My name is Elizabeth Bolden, and I represent the Commonwealth’s fourteen community colleges that are statutorily established under Article XIX-A of the Public School Code.  Joining me today is Dr. Nick Neupauer, President of Butler County Community College and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges and Dr. John Sygielski, President of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.

The community colleges are grateful for the continued support of House members, and in particular the Chairmen and Members of the Appropriations and Education Committees.  The colleges appreciate your interest in, and commitment to, the role of community colleges in the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems.   Last academic year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges enrolled more than 344,000 students from all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in academic, workforce and noncredit programs.  The colleges play a vital role for the students and employers they serve, and contribute to the Commonwealth’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

Pennsylvania’s community colleges currently offer 1,384 credit programs, 62% of which are in STEM fields, and 48% of which are in High Priority Occupations identified by the state Department of Labor & Industry.  The colleges regularly evaluate workforce needs and adjust program offerings to align with those needs.  In the current academic year, the colleges are offering 44 new programs in wide-ranging fields including life sciences, mechatronics, unmanned aerial technology and culinary arts.

Two colleges, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (Penn Highlands) and Reading Area Community College (RACC) have reinstated an Associate of Applied Science degree in electric utility technology.  The Colleges are partnering with FirstEnergy Corp’s Pennsylvania utilities (Penelec, Met-Ed, West Penn Power and Pennsylvania Power) to offer the award-winning program to train the next generation of utility substation and electrical line workers. The program combines hands-on utility skills at Penelec’s training facilities with academic coursework on the Penn Highlands and RACC campuses.  The RACC program trains electrical lineworkers, a profession that in Pennsylvania has an average starting salary of $50,000 and an overall average salary of $67,000.

Last year, the community colleges also partnered directly with local employers to provide $11.6 million worth of customized training for over 37,000 Pennsylvania workers.  Through various partnerships, including WEDNetPA, over 21,000 Pennsylvania workers were trained.  These programs are essential to provide Pennsylvanians the opportunities to acquire or upgrade workplace skills.

The colleges are also committed to offering quality academic programming for students seeking an affordable pathway to a bachelor’s degree.  At the end of the 2013 academic year, over 33,000 community college students in Pennsylvania successfully transferred to other institutions to continue their studies, with more than 81% of those graduates transferring to institutions in the Commonwealth.  The colleges have strong relationships with other postsecondary education partners to ensure that students have the opportunity to continue their academic study.  Pennsylvania’s community colleges have over 2,700 transfer and articulation agreements with TAOC-participating baccalaureate institutions to ensure that students who wish to pursue a four-year degree can move seamlessly between institutions, and several colleges have partnerships with bachelor’s-granting institutions that enable students to complete a four year degree on their local community college campus. Northampton Community College and Bloomsburg University recently partnered to offer a bachelor’s of applied science degree that will enable graduates to serve as managers in STEM-related fields and is one of many examples of these innovative partnerships throughout the Commonwealth.

The colleges also serve as a center of community and economic activity in their local areas.   Our colleges partner with early childhood education providers, K-12 education, and local employers to develop and offer programs to meet local needs.  They provide more than opportunities for academic and workforce training; they serve as community centers and enhance their regions’ cultural diversity.  The colleges are among the 50 largest employers in 15 of Pennsylvania’s counties and collectively, the colleges are one of the largest 50 employers in the Commonwealth, employing more than 26,000 individuals statewide in 2013.    Community college graduates also tend to stay in their local communities after completing their degrees, with several colleges reporting that 95% of their students stay in Pennsylvania after receiving their credentials.

Governor Wolf’s proposed FY 15-16 Executive Budget is an important step in providing the necessary support and investment for postsecondary education in the Commonwealth.   The budget reflects an understanding that a postsecondary credential is essential for an individual’s long term economic security and that a community college is the most accessible, affordable path to attaining that credential.  Specifically for community colleges, the budget proposes a $15.7 million increase in the community college operating appropriation, bringing the total appropriation to $230.7 million, an increase of 7%.  The budget also proposes $48.8 million to support capital improvements at the colleges.  The Commission supports both the operating and capital funding recommendations.

The community college operating appropriation provides funds for the general operation of the colleges. These funds will allow the colleges to maintain and expand quality academic and workforce programs that are essential to the Commonwealth’s economic growth, including programs in the technology, healthcare, and natural gas industries and to keep tuition affordable for students.  For the 2013-2014 academic year, annual average tuition and fees at Pennsylvania’s community colleges totaled $3,454.  That amount is 62% less than average tuition and fees at a PASSHE institution, the second most affordable public postsecondary education option in Pennsylvania.

The Commission also urges the General Assembly to approve $48.8 million for the community college capital fund line item.  This line item supports capital improvements at the colleges by providing 50% of the funds for approved capital projects when the colleges, local sponsors, and/or private fundraising also provide a 50% match of the project cost.  This appropriation has enabled the completion of projects such as Montgomery County Community College’s Health Sciences Center, upgrades to the Community College of Philadelphia’s biology labs, and purchase of land and buildings for a permanent York Campus for HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.  At this funding level, there will still be significant unmet needs at the colleges.  A 2013 study by the architectural firm STANTEC documented that the community colleges’ infrastructure is rapidly aging and in need of more than $726 million in improvements over the next five years.  Nearly half of the projects have been identified as high priority projects by the colleges, indicating that they are critical to the continued successful operation of the college.  The list of high priority projects includes a new Workforce Training Center, upgrades to labs in STEM programs, and the expansion of e-learning environments to replace outdated classrooms.  The backlog of projects exists because nearly 97% of the capital appropriation is committed to existing projects, leaving just a few million for new projects each year.  The Commission would welcome further conversation regarding long-term funding options to support capital improvements at the colleges.

The recommended capital and operating funding levels are important to the colleges and the communities and students they serve, but they will also provide a significant return on investment for the Commonwealth.  A 2014 report from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) found that community colleges and their students added over $800 billion to the national economy. Using EMSI’s methodology, Pennsylvania’s community colleges added an estimated $16.9 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy in FY 11-12.  Every public dollar invested in community colleges provides a return on investment of nearly $42 in direct and indirect economic benefits including increased productivity, income, spending and reduced costs in social program areas such as healthcare, criminal justice and unemployment programs.

The Commission also supports the recommended appropriation at PHEAA for the PA State Grant program.  Last year, more than 28,000 community college students participated in PHEAA’s PA State Grant Program to help cover the costs of their education and even more benefitted from programs such as Ready to Succeed and PA TIP.  Despite the relative affordability of Pennsylvania community college tuition, finances can still be a barrier for potential students.  Funds available through PHEAA, combined with federal student aid and institutional aid, help to ease financial barriers and ensure access to higher education for students.

The Governor’s recommended funding for dual enrollment is also supported by the colleges. Dual enrollment provides students with an opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school, and has been shown to increase college degree attainment while reducing the time and cost to degree completion.  Pennsylvania’s community colleges have been enthusiastic partners with secondary education in offering dual enrollment opportunities for students.   Last year, more than 11,000 students participated in dual enrollment opportunities at Pennsylvania’s community colleges.  A 16-year-old high school student participating in Delaware County Community College’s (DCCC) dual enrollment program recently received college credits for mathematics courses he took at the College. The credits will allow him to skip introductory courses when he enters the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall. Another high school student took classes at DCCC through the program and completed all of her general education requirements.  As a result, this student will be able to graduate from Harcum College’s dental hygiene program one year early, with significant savings in both time and money.  Funding to support the expansion of dual enrollment will provide even more students with these educational and financial advantages.

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide testimony on the FY 15-16 Budget.   The colleges believe that investment in Pennsylvania’s community colleges provides a significant return on investment and will help Pennsylvania reach its full potential as a national leader in higher education.  Investing in the colleges will yield significant economic and societal benefits for the students and communities we serve, and contribute to the Commonwealth’s long term fiscal health and economic competitiveness.  We look forward to working with the Governor, the Chairmen, and the Members of the Committee to make these budget and policy recommendations a reality.

Pennsylvania’s Community Colleges Applaud Governor Wolf’s 2015-16 Budget Proposal

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                        

March 3, 2015

HARRISBURG—Pennsylvania’s community college leaders are applauding Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal to provide additional state funding for the Commonwealth’s community colleges and to ensure that a community college education remains an affordable path to prosperity for students across the Commonwealth.

“Pennsylvania’s community colleges are an integral part of the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems,” said Dr. Nick Neupauer, President of Butler County Community College and Board Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “Governor Wolf’s budget proposal recognizes the benefits of supporting community colleges, including increased opportunities for students, expansion of industry-aligned job training programs and an overall positive return on investment for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers.”

Governor Wolf’s budget recommends an additional $15 million in the community college operating appropriation for FY 15-16, a 7% increase over the previous fiscal year. The proposed funding level begins to reverse the effects of the dramatic funding reduction to the colleges in FY 2011-12 and the failure of the appropriation to keep pace with inflation.

“These additional funds will enable colleges to continue offering academic and technical training programs that enhance opportunities for students and meet state and local workforce needs.” Neupauer said. “They will also ensure that access to a quality postsecondary education is not compromised. The colleges look forward to working with Governor Wolf and the General Assembly to make this budget proposal a reality.”

Last year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges awarded over 14,000 associate’s degrees, and 2,700 other awards. Over 54 percent of these degrees and awards were in STEM-related fields, one of the fastest growing sectors of Pennsylvania’s economy.

“Strategic investments in Pennsylvania’s community colleges can support students and spur economic growth throughout the Commonwealth,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, the nonprofit entity that represents the interests of the state’s 14 community colleges. “This recommended funding level is a step in the right direction.”

In 2013-2014, Pennsylvania’s community colleges provided customized training for nearly 38,000 Pennsylvania workers through partnerships with employers and other organizations, including the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania, or WEDnetPA. WEDnetPA is also slated to receive an increase in funding in Governor Wolf’s budget proposal. “Pennsylvania’s community colleges stand ready to serve as an adaptable, cost-effective partner to any organization that needs assistance in making Pennsylvania’s workforce the envy of the nation.” Bolden said.

“The colleges are also pleased that Governor Wolf’s budget includes support for dual enrollment, a proven strategy for students to get an early start on earning college credit, saving them both time and money as they pursue a postsecondary education.” Neupauer said.

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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 www.pacommunitycolleges.org

 

 

PACCC Press Conference to launch statewide PLA Initiative

The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is announcing the launch of the first statewide Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) initiative in the country, called College Credit FastTrack. Prior PLA models were applied on an institutional basis throughout the state. This is the first time a consortium has solidified PLA standards and processes statewide.

WHEN: Monday, February 2
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Note: In the case that HACC is closed due to inclement weather, the event will not take place.

WHERE: HACC Midtown II, Room 202
1500 North Third Street Harrisburg, PA 17102
Parking available in HACC Midtown Lots 2 and 4.

WHO: Dr. John “Ski” Sygielski, President of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
Dr. Nick Neupauer, President of Butler County Community College, Chair of the PA Commission for Community Colleges
Dr. Kathrine Swanson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Montgomery County Community College, the lead college on the TAACCT grant
Scott Aquila, Associate Dean of Professional Accreditation and Curriculum at Lehigh Carbon Community College

PA Community Colleges Launch Statewide PLA Initiative

For Immediate Release                                            

Media Contact: Danielle Gross

P: (717)232-7584 C: (717)418-9001

dgross@pacommunitycolleges.org

February 2, 2015                                                      

 

Pennsylvania Community Colleges Launch Statewide PLA Initiative

Allows non-traditional students to gain college credit for knowledge, work experiences

 

HARRISBURG— Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges are announcing the launch of a statewide Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), called College Credit FastTrack. College Credit FastTrack allows PA’s 14 community colleges to award adult learners credit for learning through training and work experiences – and establishes common standards for earning these credits across the state. All of PA’s 14 community colleges are participating, and this is the first statewide PLA initiative that encompasses every college in a given sector.

 

PLA is the process used by many institutions to determine if an individual’s prior educational, workforce and life experiences can be translated to college credits. Students who are granted PLA credits have better academic outcomes, better degree completion, better persistence, and shorter time to completion than non-PLA students.

 

“Some postsecondary education is as necessary now as a high school degree was in previous generations, and many adults want to gain a degree and gain re-employment with as little time in the classroom as possible,” says Dr. Nicholas Neupauer, president of Butler County Community College and board chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “College Credit FastTrack will enable these students to complete a life-changing degree program more quickly and at a reduced cost.”

 

College Credit FastTrack (ccfasttrack.org) is a new website and e-portfolio platform which provides a single point of entry for adult learners in Pennsylvania to access prior learning credits at all of our community colleges. Students will be shepherded through the process by connecting with a PLA advisor at one of the colleges through the site and developing and submitting a portfolio for review for college credits. Then the portfolio is evaluated by college faculty to determine which credits will be awarded.

 

Current community colleges have already been engaging in PLA processes at their campuses with great success. Anthony Caso, a forty-two year old single father, has been awarded 27 credits towards his associate’s degree in criminal justice at Montgomery County Community College, which will cut his time to degree completion nearly in half. With College Credit FastTrack in place, it is anticipated that more Pennsylvania students will gain PLA credits than ever before.

 

Headed by lead institution Montgomery County Community College, College Credit FastTrack was made possible by a $2.5 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

 

Note: A prior version of this release noted that this PLA was the first statewide PLA initiative in the US. This version has been modified to note that this is the first statewide PLA including all of the colleges in a given sector.

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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 www.pacommunitycolleges.org.