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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.

 

Student Success Summit

Crowne Plaza Harrisburg

 

Community Colleges Offer 44 Additional Programs in 2014-15 School Year

HARRISBURG— Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges are offering 44 new programs in the 2014-15 academic year, offering a wide range of credentials including certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in wide-ranging fields. Among them are new life sciences, mechatronics, unmanned aerial technology and culinary arts programs.

“As the largest public provider of higher education in Pennsylvania, our community colleges are important components in Pennsylvania’s continued workforce development,” says Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “By regularly evaluating local needs and creating new programs, our colleges are helping to create solid jobs and foster innovation in Pennsylvania’s higher education landscape.”

The decision to create new programs at community colleges is not undertaken lightly. It is a multi-step process that accounts for local labor market data; demand in high-priority occupations; student interest; equipment, facility and faculty needs; college strategic plans; and the needs of local employers. Many colleges consult with advisory councils comprised of employers in varying industries. Ultimately, the decision to add new programs rests in the hands of the Board of Trustees at each individual community college.

This is a continuous, ongoing process: many new programs are in the planning stages for addition to course offerings for the 2015-16 academic year. Because the course offerings are managed on a local level, community colleges are able to nimbly respond to needs of their local communities.

For example, the Community College of Beaver County is launching a new Process Technology associate degree program focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The program goals include increasing the number of highly-skilled, well-educated and diverse process technicians in the region; contributing to a needed workforce should Shell build the proposed ethane cracker plant; and meeting the employment needs of regional industry partners.

The adaptations of colleges to community needs do not only apply to new programs, but the reinstatement of programs placed on hold. At two colleges, an Associate of Applied Science degree in electric utility technology, offered by both Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (Penn Highlands) and Reading Area Community College (RACC) has been reinstated after being placed on hold in 2011 due to the recession. The Colleges have revived their partnerships with FirstEnergy Corp’s Pennsylvania utilities (Penelec, Met-Ed, West Penn Power and Pennsylvania Power) to offer award-winning program to train the next generation of utility substation workers. The programs combine hands-on utility skills at Penelec’s training facilities with academic coursework on the Penn Highlands and RACC campuses.

A full list of the new programs is below.
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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.

Community College of Allegheny County
Mechatronics Technology AS
Mechatronics Technology Certificate
Information Technology Support Certificate
Social Work: Fundamentals of Social Work Foundation Certificate

Community College of Beaver County
Communication AA
Cybersecurity AAS
Robotics and Embedded Systems Certificate
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle AAS

Bucks County Community College
Exercise Science AS

Delaware County Community College
Engineering Technology AS
Skilled Trades AAS
Advanced Technology AAS

HACC – Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
Hospitality & Tourism Management AA
Hospitality & Tourism Management Certificate

Lehigh Carbon Community College
Environmental Science AS
Biology AS
Exercise Science AS
Physics AS
Chemistry AS
Pre-Engineering AS
Diesel Truck Technology Diploma

Montgomery County Community College
Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate
Culinary Arts AAS
Baking & Pastry Arts AAS
Culinary Arts Certificate
Cloud Computing Certificate
Life Sciences AS
Biotechnology Certificate

Northampton Community College
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC/R) and Refrigeration Tech Certificate
Public Health AAS

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College
Environmental Science AS
Healthcare Information Specialist AAS

Community College of Philadelphia
Paralegal Studies Proficiency Cert Certificate
Biology AS
Accounting Paraprofessional Certificate
Entrepreneurship Proficiency Cert Certificate

Reading Area Community College
Information Technology Certificate
Creative Writing Transfer AA
Mechatronics Engineering Technology Certificate
Health Sciences Certificate
Business Academic Certificate
Administrative Office Specialist AAS

Westmoreland County Community College
Fine Arts – Graphic Design AFA
Criminal Justice – Security Professional Certificate

Resources, Opportunities for Veterans Abound at Pennsylvania’s Community Colleges

HARRISBURG— Veterans of the US Armed Services – and their family members – receive a wide range of educational opportunities, benefits and support services at Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges.

“Pennsylvania’s community colleges are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of veterans, their dependents, and those currently serving our country, and we appreciate the service and sacrifice of our servicemembers,” says Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “The array of services provided by our colleges addresses a wide array of issues ranging from academic, to financial, physical and social needs.”

Many schools offer a Resource Center, Service Departments, or office dedicated to services for veterans on their campuses, where veterans, service members and spouses or dependents can receive assistance with their transition to college life, learn about educational benefits and work study opportunities, or meet with other veterans. The departments also provide referrals for campus and community services for veterans. At some colleges, veterans can receive college credit for some of their military training, including basic training.

Seven of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges – Community College of Allegheny County, Bucks County Community College, Butler County Community College, HACC – Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, Northampton Community College, Community College of Philadelphia and Reading Area Community College – were named to the 2015 Military Friendly Schools® list in late October, which means that they exhibit leading practices to support military students.

Five schools have official chapters of the Student Veterans of America: Community College of Allegheny County, Butler County Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Montgomery County of Community College and Community College of Philadelphia. Several other schools have clubs for veterans that are unaffiliated with national groups.

Four schools – Community College of Beaver County, Bucks County Community College, HACC – Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and Montgomery County Community College – have been selected to participate in the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon Program for the 2014-15 academic year. The program allows approved institutions of higher learning and the VA to partially or fully fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the established thresholds under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

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Pennsylvania’s Community Colleges Crucial to State’s Manufacturing Industry

HARRISBURG— As manufacturers around the country observe Manufacturing Day tomorrow, Pennsylvania’s community colleges are celebrating their role as educators at the forefront of the modern manufacturing industry. Today’s manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania include highly trained employees who work on state-of-the-art equipment in well-paying jobs.

“Community colleges in Pennsylvania are training today’s skilled manufacturing workers,” says Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “Our colleges are responsive to the needs of their communities and local economies, and many have implemented new programs to train workers in high-priority occupations, including manufacturing jobs.”

Community colleges throughout the state have pioneered training programs in conjunction with local community and business leaders. They regularly increase training offerings in high-demand manufacturing occupations in the state, such as welding or machine repair and even create new programs to train needed workers in local growth industries, such as Marcellus Shale in the southwest or pharmaceutical processing in the southeast. In addition, new programs are established to re-train or enhance the skills of Pennsylvanians who lose their jobs when their employers close their doors or relocate elsewhere.

Northeastern Pennsylvania received a boost on Monday when it was announced that Lehigh Carbon Community College, Luzerne County Community College and Northampton Community College will receive a four-year $10 million federal grant to develop new degree, certificate, and diploma programs in high priority career fields. This marks the third time that Pennsylvania community colleges have received grants via the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants Program (TAACCCT). These grants help to expand the capacity of the American community college system to provide innovative training programs in partnerships with local employers.

Pennsylvania’s community colleges are working to meet the challenges of providing skilled workers for today’s manufacturing jobs. According to the PA Department of Labor, there were 556,700 manufacturing jobs in the state in August 2014. Growing sectors include Plastics Product Manufacturing; Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing; and Architectural and Structural Metals Manufacturing. For information on Manufacturing Day events throughout Pennsylvania, visit www.mfgday.com

 

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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.