The Board of Trustees of the Rural Regional College of Northern Pennsylvania (RRC), appointed in December 2014 by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, has been making plans and progressing toward the launch of a new and unique college for nine counties in northwest Pennsylvania. The new college will provide affordable, accessible associate degrees, certificates, and training programs for residents of Cameron, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, McKean, Potter, Venango and Warren Counties.
The Board has taken steps to formally incorporate, establish by-laws, access funding through the Department of Education (PDE), and name the Education Consortium of the Upper Allegheny (ECUA) as the Project Executive. The ECUA will be responsible for managing the day to day operations of the Board of Trustees and oversee the development of the operational and financial plans for the new college. “There is a lot of work to be done in the next several months, and we are excited to have the ECUA assisting the Board,” said former state senator and Chair of the RRC Board, Mary Jo White. “There is a clear need for accessible and affordable opportunities for technical training and associate degree programs for the Northwest and North Central regions and the educational opportunities provided by this new college must be aligned to the needs of regional employers,” continued White. The 7,000 square miles the college is charged with serving will present a unique opportunity for the Board to develop innovative delivery methods utilizing existing capacity and infrastructure throughout the region. “We want every community from Erie to Emporium to be able to access education through this new college.”
The Board has targeted the fall of 2017 for enrolling students as it continues to develop the plans for the college, including the search for a President and Chief Financial Officer.
After several years of planning and with the input of educators and industry leaders across the northern tier of Pennsylvania, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21) worked with the House of Representatives, particularly Representatives Martin Causer and Kathy Rapp who introduced legislation which sought to establish this rural community college. With passage of PA 126 of 2014, the Rural, Regional College of Northern Pennsylvania was created and funding was appropriated. Through the ECUA pilot program, designed to test a delivery model and prove the need for such an educational option, and in partnership with Gannon University, ECUA has been providing accessible associate degree programs at community college cost to underserved residents of the region since 2012 and was instrumental in the development of the legislation for the new college. ECUA will continue to provide these affordable associate degrees through Gannon University until the new Rural, Regional College opens. For more information, contact Duane Vicini at 814-757-5731.