Community Colleges Rally for State Support
2013 Lobby Day, Michael D’Aniello makes remarks -picture provided by Montgomery County Community College
Community college supporters came together on April 9 at the State Capitol in Harrisburg to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Community College Act in Pennsylvania, or Act 484 of 1963, and to tell state lawmakers that years of limited state support is pushing the colleges to their limit, risking the half-century-old mission of the institutions to provide affordable, quality higher education. Alex Johnson, President of the Community College of Allegheny County, recognized all of Pennsylvania’s community colleges and their importance to the Commonwealth. “Entering the recession, we made sure postsecondary education was affordable,” explained Johnson. “We also provided training for workers to reenter the workforce with updated skills.” Johnson said community colleges are proud to have served the Commonwealth for the past 50 years, but it cannot continue in their current
capacity while lacking support from state and local government. “An increase in all public higher education is the most important investment the government can make,” said Johnson. Michael D’Aniello, trustee of Montgomery County Community College, said that his background has given him unique insight to see the impact that community colleges have on everyone in the Commonwealth. “Fifty years ago the legislative body enacted the Community College Act, which was designed to create affordable high quality education for residents of the Commonwealth to allow them to improve their lives,” said D’Aniello. Community college students only have two roads to choose between, explained D’Aniello, they can either get a community college education or receive no post-secondary education. “Public funding is the essence to the survival of community colleges,” stated D’Aniello. “Community colleges are being forced to make decisions that do not help students because public funding is dwindling.” Two students also spoke about why community colleges are important to them. Elise Chesson, a full time non-traditional honors student at Reading Area Community College (RACC) said affordability was a factor that determined her decision. Continued P.7
“PUBLIC FUNDING IS THE ESSENCE TO THE SURVIVAL OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES” -Michael D’Aniello, Trustee, MC3
Q&A With Senator Lisa Boscola
Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18)
Senator Boscola’s district encompasses both Northampton and Lehigh Carbon Community Colleges, but her support for community colleges can be seen statewide. The Senator is co-chair of the newly formed Community College Caucus and she has co-sponsored legislation to examine the community college funding model, SB 360. Q. Recently, you graciously volunteered to co-chair the Community College Caucus. What role do you hope the Caucus will play in advancing the community college mission in PA? Why do you think the formation of this Caucus and participation from legislators is so important? A. I am excited and honored to co-chair the Community College Caucus. As a long time supporter of community colleges in our Commonwealth, I want to continue to spread the message about the high quality of the programs available at our community colleges and of how affordable, accessible, and important these institutions are in Pennsylvania higher education. With the formation of this caucus, it is my goal to bring not only the needs of community colleges to the forefront, but also share the great successes these institutions have provided for our constituents. I wish to continue to highlight the critical role community colleges play in our higher education system here in Pennsylvania. Q.Your district is home to Lehigh Carbon Community College and Northampton Community College. What impact do these colleges have on your constitutents and the communities they serve? A. These colleges have an enormous impact on both the students and communities in my district. Not only do they provide easily transferrable college courses at an affordable price, but they also offer special skills training- something I feel we desperately need and is often overlooked. I can at-
test to their impact on a personal level as my Mother, Anna Stofko, is a graduate of Northampton Community College. NCC enabled my Mother to earn her degree while caring for three small children. In my role as Senate Democratic Policy Chair, I conducted hearings and roundtable events to gather input from educators and business leaders all across the state. One thing that was made abundantly clear was that a successful career in today’s economy does not necessarily require a four-year degree. In fact, we heard repteatedly that the skills training these community colleges provide is instrumental in meeting the demands of our manufacturing sector who are having difficulty finding workers with the skillsets they are seeking. Through these programs, community colleges offer the opportunity for students to earn an associates or certificate degree in highly-skilled fields that are in demand. Q. Governor Corbett’s proposed budget includes level funding for community colleges. As the only open access education institutions in the Commonwealth, remaining affordable is a top priority. Our colleges are hopeful for an increase in funding in order to avoid tuition increases and ensure an exceptional student experience. What do you see as priorities for the upcoming budget negotiations? How can the community colleges better communicate their need? A. Education has always been a big part of budget negotiations and maintaining affordable tuition for students is certainly one of the goals. Recently, I co-sponsored legislation that would establish a Community College Affordability Task Force to examine a crucial component that the Governor’s Advisory Commission of Postsecondary Education didn’t specifically include: sustainability and affordability. Currently, Pennsylvania community colleges are funded through a formula that aims to keep student tuition at no more than 1/3 of the educational cost. The remainder of the funding comes from the state or locally through school districts. However, as these school districts have become financially stressed, many are re-evaluating their sponsorship. This will leave students to pick up the slack, so to speak, and will ultimately lead to an increase in tuition cost. Obviously, we don’t want that to happen. Therefore, this legislation would help evaluate the potential emerging problem and create recommendations of how we can move forward in keeping tuition as affordable as possible. Continued P.8
“A SUCCESSFUL CAREER DOES NOT NECESSARILY REQUIRE A 4-YEAR DEGREE” -Sen. Boscola (D-18)
Presidents Make Their Case for State Support On March 4, community college presidents testified during a House Appropriations Budget Hearing that Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges could be a key player in lessening the skills gap by getting people back to work, but the state’s resources are failing to keep pace with demand, putting access and affordability at risk. Dr. Alex Johnson, President of the Community College of Allegheny County provided testimony. He was joined by Dr. Nick Neupauer, President of Butler County Community College; Dr. Stephen Curtis, President of Community College of Philadelphia; and Dr. Jerry Parker, President of Delaware County Community College. Under Governor Corbett’s 2013-14 budget proposal, community colleges would receive no additional funding for their operating budgets or capital projects. The lack of state support is compounded by increased demand from students and local employers that the colleges continue to experience in response to the Great Recession and slow economic recovery. While enrollment in community colleges is at historic levels, Delaware County Community College President Jerry Parker said trends follow unemployment cycles. When joblessness spikes, more people attempt to sign up for community college coursework. But it’s in these periods, he said, that problems arise. “Many attempt to register for community college but stop because they don’t have the resources to enroll,” Parker said, adding that the colleges cannot continue to meet the needs of the Commonwealth, our students and our communities without the state as our partner. The presidents noted that despite limited state and local support, rising benefit and other support type costs and in facilities that have long surpassed their capacity, the colleges have been remarkably resourceful and successful in serving increasing numbers of students while maintaining affordable tuition rates. They cautioned, however, that the colleges are left with little room to further reduce costs without impacting student access, instructional quality and the variety of programs that serve students, local employers and communities. Any tuition increase would put higher education out of reach for thousands of students. Dr. Johnson cited steps the colleges have taken to curtail spending and maximize efficiencies. These changes have included restructuring health care, freezing salaries and leaving vacancies unfilled across the institutions. Asked by Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-153, what a bold increase to community colleges by the state would be, Dr. Johnson said the $8 million extra for operating expenses would be a step in that direction.
Community College of Philadelphia President Steve Curtis said, to him, bold is something different. “We receive 17 percent, on the average, of our funding from the state. At one point, there was a state statute that mandated double that. So bold would be double that,” Curtis said. If not a dramatically higher commitment of funding, Curtis said community colleges throughout Pennsylvania are hoping for more predictable — and sustainable — funding from the state. “Doubling, we can all chuckle, but it’s not realistic. How can we work together to provide a more predictable path that allows us to meet the demand of the 500,000 enrollees in our colleges?” Curtis said. Republicans and Democrats on the committee generally expressed their support for the role community colleges play in Pennsylvania. And some, like Rep. James Roebuck, D-188, said the Corbett administration should do more because the schools are known for helping lower income students find a better place in life. “We have an obligation to look at this and try and restore a balance so that those students who are most in need — most deserving, perhaps — get the opportunity to get a college education, become productive citizens in the commonwealth,” Roebuck said.
NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT
Above, PA Community College presidents, senior staff, and trustees enjoy a productive conversation with Senator Pat Toomey during the 2013 Community College National Legislative Summit in Washington, DC. from February 12-14. Community college leaders met with members of the PA congressional delegation to discuss federal funding for student financial aid, among other issues.
Community Colleges Expand Reach, Classroom Space In March, two Pennsylvania community colleges announced campus enhancements and expansions.
BC3 @ BROCKWAY
CCAC K. LEROY IRVIS SCIENCE CENTER
On March 22, Butler County Community College (BC3) announced that it will open BC3 @ Brockway in August in the former Owens-Illinois Glass building on Wood Street in Brockway. “BC3 @ Brockway is the region’s only community college and we are glad to be here. Now area residents can go to college, earn an associate’s degree close-to-home and at an affordable cost,” said Dr. Nicholas Neupauer, BC3 President. Senator Joe Scarnati was the featured speaker and emphasized the importance of having a community college in Brockway. Other speakers included Bill O’Brien, Vice President for Continuing Education and Off-Campus Sites, who discussed the specifications of the new building and Francie Spigelmyer, Vice President for Academic Affairs who talked about the academic degree programs that will be offered at BC3 @ Brockway. Around 100 guests were in attendance including educators from high schools, colleges and universities in the region and elected officials. “This show of support has been tremendous” said Dr. Neupauer, “We have been hearing that people are excited about having a community college in Brockway. Today’s turnout underscores that fact.” The new BC3 @ Brockway location will be funded by a $500,000 annual grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. BC3 @ Brockway will serve students in a four county area including Clarion, Clearfield, Elk and Jefferson counties. Construction on the building will begin on April 1 and continue through the summer. Fall classes start on August 26. The 14,000 square foot facility will include classrooms; a biology, anatomy and geology lab; a conference room; a student lounge and an outdoor patio. BC3 @ Brockway was formerly called BC3 @ Upper Allegheny which is currently located in Jeff Tech in Reynoldsville. BC3 @ Brockway will offer five associate degrees in Business Management, Early Childhood Education (Pre K-4), General Studies, Psychology and Social Work. Face-to-face, online and hybrid courses will be offered both full and part-time. BC3 has an open admissions policy requiring only a high school degree or GED. Butler County Community College plans to hold an Open House in August for parents and students to see the new facility once the construction is completed.
The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) celebrated the opening of the new K. Leroy Irvis Science Center on Monday, March 25 at its Allegheny Campus on the Northside. The five-story, LEED certified building features state-of-the art science equipment, e-learning capabilities, and supports biotechnology, microbiology, and astronomy, among several other programs. The 65,000-square-foot science center was constructed using green building technology - earning the highly coveted LEED Silver Energy rating - contains eight classrooms, numerous study areas and 16 laboratories. A rooftop observatory, capable of electronically projecting images into classrooms, is scheduled to be completed soon. Classes at the new science center are slated to begin this summer. Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, CCAC Campus President Donna Imhoff and Board Chair Amy Kuntz, County Councilman Bill Robinson and CCAC President Alex Johnson expressed thanks for being able to celebrate Irvis through the dedication of the building, the audience was also filled with those who came to honor the late Speaker. These included CCAC professors Ralph Proctor and Elmer Hamer who first proposed building the center, Highmark VP and former County Executive Dan Onorato, Common Pleas Judge Dwayne Woodruff, Urban Radio Network President Jerry Lopes and former ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney. About K. Leroy Irvis -from CCAC.edu
A pioneer in education and the law, the voice of the people in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives and a humanitarian who fought to end discrimination while promoting the health and safety of the nation’s newborns, K. Leroy Irvis was an inspirational leader who helped transform the lives of the people of our great Commonwealth. His co-sponsorship of Act 484, also known as the Pennsylvania Community College Act of 1963, created the state’s community college system and ultimately led to the founding of CCAC three years later. It was due to his natural hunger for knowledge and enlightenment that this “lion of Pennsylvania” left with his passing a legacy of innovation through his words, his actions and the way he lived—a Renaissance man for the modern age.
Commission Hosts Annual Meeting, Awards Ceremony Presidents, trustees and staff of the 14 community colleges gathered in Harrisburg on April 8 for the Commission’s 2013 Annual Meeting and All-Pennsylvania Academic Team Awards Ceremony. This year’s event welcomed Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Senior Consultant with HCM Strategies, a public policy and advocacy consulting firm specializing in health and education, to deliver the Keynote Address. Dr. Hunter Reed spoke about the American Dream Report 2.0. The report argues that completion has become a pressing economic issue. For one, it says, the country needs a better-educated workforce, and ensuring that more students finish their degrees is one path to ensuring that businesses have skilled employees to hire. Also, the report says that many students who enter a degree program but do not complete still end up heavily in debt — taking on a hefty part of the cost of higher education without getting its full benefits. The report includes a broad range of suggestions to help improve completion rates, including these: • • • • •
Have the federal government collect and report better higher-education performance metrics, on access, completion, cost and employment outcomes. Make it simpler to apply for aid, and make its costs and benefits clearer to students and their families. Offer federal incentives for states and schools to find faster and cheaper ways to educate students, including getting high-school students ready for college. Run experiments on new ways to aim and deliver financial aid. Reward colleges for improving completion rates, and tie student aid to getting past certain educational goal posts.
These measures would benefit students and the broader economy as well as having a strong social justice component, offering particular benefits to lower-income students and minorities. About half of all enrollees do not earn a degree within six years, but the rate is 63 percent for African-American students and 58 percent for Hispanic students. Following the Keynote Address, a panel session with Dr. Karen Stout, President of Montgomery County Community College, Dr. Steve Curtis, President of Community College of Philadelphia, Jonell Sanchez Vice President at Pearson and Gail Schwartz, Senior Vice President for Innovative Learning and Student Success at AACC, discussed the future of community colleges. Their conversation centered around the 21st Century Commission Report released in April 2012 by AACC and how its broad recommendations are the focus of implementation work at the national level. The panel discussed the recommendations and how they align with efforts at the state and college levels. Several breakout sessions were also held that dealt with topics ranging from veterans, crisis communication, and the future
of online education. At a banquet later that evening, Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges together with Phi Theta Kappa honored 45 community college students from across the Commonwealth to the 2013 All-Pennsylvania Academic Team. The students, representing each community college in the state, were honored for their academic achievements in the classroom and for their volunteerism in their communities. In order to be named to the All-Pennsylvania Academic Team, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher. Bucks County Community College’s Jonathan Webster was named Pennsylvania’s 2013 New Century Scholar. Jonathan was also recognized as one of 20 students named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team. He will receive $2,500 scholarship, a medallion, and was featured in USA Today. In his remarks at the awards ceremony, Jonathan explained the transition from being home schooled to attending Bucks County Community College. He applauded Bucks for its flexibility to allow students to “do it their way” and juggle part-time jobs and other responsibilities along with pursuing a degree. Jonathan congratulated his fellow All-PA team members. “I have no doubt that the award we will receive will mean more than just a medallion to wear around your neck. What it represents is a drive, a willingness to educate yourself and to prepare yourself to succeed in life. It represents a dream to distinguish yourself from the rest of the world and be the best that you can be. “I’d like to leave you with a quote from Walt Disney - a man who had the opportunity to not only share his dreams with his family and friends but with the entire world. He said, ‘We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
ALL-PA ACADEMIC TEAM 2013 NEW CENTURY SCHOLAR “[THIS RECOGNITION] REPRESENTS DRIVE, A WILLINGNESS TO EDUCATE YOURSELF AND TO PREPARE YOURSELF TO SUCCEED IN LIFE.” -JONATHAN WEBSTER
All-PA Team Meet with Lawmakers, Corbett Officials On April 8, the 2013 All-PA Academic Team visisted the State Capitol to be introduced and recognized on the House and Senate Floors. The students also had the opportunity to meet with their legislators, Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley and Secretary of Education, Ron Tomalis.
Sens. Mensch, Boscola Join Colleges for Press Conference
Senator Mensch at the March 12 press conference
On March 12 community college presidents joined with legislators to announce new legislation that would analyze the sustainability of the community college funding model. The legislation, introduced by Senator Bob Mensch (R-29), would create The Pennsylvania Affordability Community College Task Force. The taskforce would examine and make recommendations regarding the viability and sustainability of the current community college funding model, accessibility of community college services across the commonwealth and the long-term affordability and accessibility of a community college education. Representative Jim Marshall (R-14) will introduce the legislation in the House. During the press conference in the Capitol Rotunda, Dr. Karen Stout, President of Montgomery County Community College, explained that when the community college model was created 50 years ago, it included a funding formula that would equally distribute the cost of a community college education in thirds:
ONE OF THE FIRST KNOWN ONLINE COURSES OFFERED AT A PA COMMUNITY COLLEGE WAS AN
INTRODUCTORY PHYSICS COURSE IN 1995. NEARLY TWO DECADES LATER,
GREATER THAN 17% OF THE TOTAL CREDITS EARNED AT PA COMMUNITY COLLEGES ARE
THROUGH ONLINE COURSES.
1/3 contribution from the state, 1/3 contribution from local sponsors and 1/3 contribution from the student. “As a result of the unpredictability of state and local support – especially in recent years – too much of the financial burden has shifted to the students,” Dr Stout said. “It’s time to take a closer look at how community colleges in the state are funded and find a more predictable path that allows us to meet the demands of the 500,000 enrollees in our colleges while maintaining our affordability and exceptional quality.” Despite state and local support that is not keeping pace with demand for community college services, the colleges have kept tuition affordable for students. However, the colleges fear they are at a tipping point. The colleges also took the opportunity to announce the formation of the Community College Caucus. The bi-partisan legislative partnership will help to ensure that the good work of community colleges is being shared with the legislature and assistance is provided when needed and when possible. Representatives from each community college district, on both sides of the aisle, have committed to joining the caucus, which will be co-chaired by Senator Bob Mensch (R-29) and Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18) in the Senate and Representative Jim Marshall(R-14) and Representative James Roebuck (D-188) in the House. Earlier that same morning, the Commission hosted a legislative breakfast in the East Wing of the Capitol. The breakfast provided the college presidents and Commission staff the opportunity to greet legislators in advance of the busy state budget season. Over fifty legislators were in attendance.
“RACC is a great stepping stone for my academic career, but Pennsylvania cannot keep forcing cuts on public education,” said Chesson. Maria Morerro, an honors student at the Community College of Philadelphia, who was a high school dropout, said she chose a community college to receive an affordable education founded on civic responsibility. Morerro said, “It’s imperative that tuition remains affordable so students can realize their academic dreams.” Pete Wambach, former state representative and alumni and trustee of Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), said “today is a beautiful day in Pennsylvania when you can come into the Capitol Rotunda and plead your case.” Wambach said he remembers when the Community College Act was signed into law, recounting his personal story as one of fourteen children with parents who could not afford to send every child to college. Wambach stated that he was proud to have entered into the first class at HACC and that he could not fathom the thought of what would have happened without the creation of Pennsylvania’s community colleges.
Boscola cont... In terms of community colleges better communicating their needs, I think there is no better ambassador than students who attended these colleges or who are currently benefiting from them. When students come to represent their own interests in conjunction with the interests of the colleges, the impact is truly felt. I am consistently amazed at the role community colleges play in benefiting my constituents year in and year out. Hearing these personal stories of how being able to earn an affordable degree has changed the lives of students from all ages and all walks of life has resonated with me- so much so that I jumped at the chance to co-chair the Community College caucus. I continue to be inspired by these students and I will persist in being a vocal supporter of the opportunities these programs provide the Commonwealth. Q. How do you think the community colleges can be a partner with the state and the private industry in the governor’s call for a skilled workforce? Do you see the community colleges in your area targeting their curriculum for available job opportunities? A. Community colleges are already providing a valuable service in solving the jobs problem in Pennsylvania. As I’ve highlighted before, skills training is so essential in developing a workforce ready to meet the needs of businesses in the state. In fact, as part of a Democratic jobs initiative, I crafted legislation that establishes a ‘school-to-work’ tax credit for businesses that hire interns who are qualified students from places such as community colleges or trade & technical schools. This legislation would help bridge the gap between education and business needs in local communities. That being said, community colleges are on the front line in developing programs to match the newest industries and job creators in Pennsylvania. In our state’s two newest industries, Marcellus Shale and the gaming industry, community colleges have adapted and quickly developed programs to meet the needs of those emerging businesses.. Four year institutions are still working on programs to meet that need. Q. What do you see as the biggest obstacles facing higher education in Pennsylvania? How can we overcome those challenges? A. Fundamentally, the biggest obstacle for education is funding- an issue we are addressing with the legislation I referenced earlier which assembles an Affordability Task Force. Insufficient funding for higher education is a recipe for disaster. I’ve always said that up front costs for education are well worth the expense, and I strive to emphasize that we must not be ‘penny wise but pound foolish’. This is especially true when it comes to funding our future. Education is the cornerstone of a healthy economy and as a core function of government we cannot be complacent in working to ensure the funding is at an adequate level. Whether it is the student right out of high school that wants to go to college, a seasoned worker who needs training in emerging technologies,
or an individual who simply wants a change in their career; we must make the opportunities for these people to find a quality education that they can afford a priority. Without that focus, Pennsylvania’s economy will simply stagnate. Q. When you think about the future of higher education in our state, what excites you the most? What role do you see community colleges playing? A. The one thing that absolutely excites me about higher education is the well rounded, bright and inquisitive graduates that I have the pleasure of meeting. These young adults are empowered and vocal about not just their education and needs, but the legacy they leave behind to future students. They are the best possible champions higher education can have and I urge them to continue to advocate for higher education. Community colleges have a pivotal role in continuing to provide necessary education opportunities which are cost-effective. They are often the stepping stone to a 4 year degree and they provide fundamental skills in career training. Community colleges also serve the most diverse students in communities and are flexible in accommodating students who must hold down employment while they continue their education. This makes community colleges a vital piece of the education puzzle, and exemplifies why we need to continue to support higher education in the Commonwealth.
SAVE THE DATE All Trustees Meeting September 26-27 Harrisburg, PA Regional Trustee Meetings November 12-14 2014 Annual Meeting March 31 Harrisburg, PA 2014 Lobby Day April 1 Harrisburg, PA
800 North Third Street, Suite 405, Harrisburg, PA 17102 Ph: 717.232.7584 w Fax: 717.233.4723