Pennsylvania Community Colleges Celebrate Community College Completion Challenge Week at Capitol

For Immediate Release                                             Media Contact:  Danielle Gross

October 19, 2015                                                        

Pennsylvania Community Colleges Celebrate Community College Completion Challenge Week at Capitol 

HARRISBURG— Pennsylvania’s Community College Caucus, together with the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, held a joint press conference at the state Capitol building today to celebrate Pennsylvania’s first-ever “Pennsylvania Community College Completion Challenge (PAC4) Week,” observed from October 19-23, 2015.

As part of PAC4 Week, student members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapters at Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges have planned more than 84 events at 23 campuses to encourage their classmates to complete their certificate or associate’s degree before leaving community college to transfer to another institution of higher learning or to enter the workforce. Administrators, faculty and staff have also been asked to sign the pledge, committing themselves to do whatever they can to facilitate completion of student credentials.

On Wednesday, October 14, Senator Bob Mensch, co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Community College Caucus, introduced a resolution recognizing the first annual Pennsylvania Community College Completion Challenge Week. The measure was adopted by the Senate unanimously.

“Pennsylvania’s community colleges are grateful for the leadership of our Community College Caucus co-chairs Senator Bob Mensch, Senator Lisa Boscola, Representative James Roebuck and Representative Jim Marshall and for the support of the Community College Caucus in spearheading awareness of this and other community college issues in the Legislature,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges.  “When community college students complete their degree or certificate, their earnings potential grows, and they are more attractive to employers. We hope that Pennsylvania’s community college students will hear the message spread by Phi Theta Kappa chapters and commit to complete their degree or certificate.”

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

PAC4 Week is made possible in part by the support of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which launched the national Phi Theta Kappa Community College Completion Corps in 2010. Pennsylvania is among 20 states with a statewide C4 initiative.

“Phi Theta Kappa is proud to partner with the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges to promote college credential completion,” said Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, Interim Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. “It is our hope that this week of completion events will be the start of an important conversation among students, faculty and staff, college administrators and community leaders. Our goal is to support students and educate them on the importance of completing their education in order to earn the credentials needed to build a stronger Pennsylvania workforce.”

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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.