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01 May 2015

HACC President Urges Support For Increased State Spending for Community Colleges

 
By John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D.,
President of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

Editor's note: This statement is 1,025 words. A shorter version is available below.

 
Community colleges are the engines of change. Community colleges work in partnership with business and industry to provide the training required to fill local jobs. Community colleges partner with the nation’s greatest resource – its people – to provide opportunities for family-sustaining jobs. Further, community colleges open their doors to everyone from all walks of life by giving the means to grow, develop and learn if the desire and determination exist. For many, community colleges are the pathway out of poverty.
 
Dr. Karen Morris-Priester took her first class at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, 24 years ago. In spring 2007, she graduated from the Yale School of Medicine – the first grandmother to do so. “I am everything that’s not supposed to succeed. I grew up in the projects, in a broken home. I had a child as a teenager and when I tested at HACC, I didn't even test high enough for the initial classes, I had to take remedial classes. So, if I can start with a remedial class and end up at Yale and then at Harvard for training while raising five kids, anyone can do it,” said Dr. Morris-Priester, an anesthesiologist in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
 
The educational journey for Dr. Morris-Priester is but one example of the thousands of HACC students who benefited from starting their post-secondary education at a community college. As the first in my family to earn a college degree and now as president of HACC, I know first-hand the mission, power and importance of higher education. It is a mission that I embrace with passion. I also know that HACC and Pennsylvania’s 13 other community colleges cannot do it alone. We cannot continue to offer affordable tuition without the support of outside resources, including the state and federal governments.
 
I strongly support the $15-million increase for community colleges in Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2015-16 state budget. If adopted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the $230,667,000 proposed for community colleges will restore a portion of state cuts made to operating budgets in 2010-11 and a subsequent three years of flat funding.
 
Governor Wolf’s commitment to education is further supported by his request for $9 million to be used by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority (PHEAA) to support dual enrollment of high school students in community college programs. Dual enrollments allow these students to get a head start on the post-secondary education needed to compete in today’s workplace.
 
The proposed increases come at a time when providing an affordable post-secondary education is even more critical to a competitive workforce and, in turn, a better economy.  According to “A Well-Educated Workforce Is Key to State Prosperity,” a report by the Economic Policy Institute dated Aug. 22, 2013:  “States can build a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in education. Providing expanded access to high quality education will not only expand economic opportunity for residents, but also likely do more to strengthen the overall state economy than anything else a state government can do.”
 
HACC and the state’s 13 other community colleges are bridging the gap between jobs needed in the workforce and trained employees to fill those jobs. It may be that an older worker needs re-training or new training to better perform an existing job. Or, an employee sees an opportunity to stretch beyond a current job but needs specific skills to move up. 
 
The possibilities and opportunities are endless. Community colleges offer science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as arts and humanities. In addition, they offer diplomas and certificates that allow students to enter directly into the workforce and associate degrees whose credits transfer to four-year colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Along the way, students may use newly acquired skills to return to the work force then return to HACC to continue their journey. More often than not, community college students are juggling full-time jobs with family responsibilities at the same time they are striving to meet their educational goals.
 
Community colleges are complex, responsive, forward-thinking and dedicated to their mission of being the engines of change. According to an analysis of HACC’s contribution to the regional economy by Mangum Economic Consulting, LLC, in May 2012:
 
  • HACC serves one of the fastest growing areas of Pennsylvania. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of HACC’s 10-county service area grew by 10.9 percent. In comparison, Pennsylvania’s population grew by 3.4 percent.
  • HACC plays a pivotal role as the institution of choice for (a) 83 percent of residents attending any public or private two-year college within its service area and (b) 34 percent of Pennsylvania residents attending any public or private, two- or four-year, college or university within its service area. HACC also is the largest provider of associate degrees, the largest provider of post-secondary education to “non-traditional” adult students and the largest provider of post-secondary education to minorities.
  • HACC makes a major economic and fiscal contribution to Central Pennsylvania through its operations and capital expenditures, and spending from its students. In fiscal year 2010-11, HACC was responsible for contributing $173 million in direct spending to Central Pennsylvania. Accounting for leakages from the regional economy, that $173 million generated $106 million in net spending that stayed in the regional economy. The economic ripple effects from those dollars then created a total of $178 million in additional economic activity within Central Pennsylvania, supported a total of 2,308 jobs, and generated $10.1 million in state and local tax revenue.
  • The typical median wage for occupations in Central Pennsylvania that require an associate degree is $48,166, while the typical median wage for occupations that require only a high school diploma is $37,015. That difference of $11,152 a year illustrates the importance of a community college education.
Financial support from Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania’s legislators is crucial to the economic well-being of the state’s residents and the Commonwealth’s economic and workforce viability. I strongly urge you to reach out to your state legislators to voice your support for the governor’s commitment to continuing the mission of HACC and the state’s other 13 community colleges.
 
John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D., is the seventh president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
 

Editor's note: This statement below is a shorter version of 725 words.


I strongly support the $15-million increase for community colleges in Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2015-16 state budget. If adopted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the $230,667,000 proposed for community colleges will restore a portion of state cuts made to operating budgets in 2010-11 and a subsequent three years of flat funding.
 
in addition, Governor Wolf’s commitment to education is further supported by his request for $9 million to be used by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority (PHEAA) to support dual enrollment of high school students in community college programs. Dual enrollments allow these students to get a head start on the post-secondary education needed to compete in today’s workplace.
 
Here's why I support these proposals:

The proposed increases come at a time when providing an affordable post-secondary education is even more critical to a competitive workforce and, in turn, a better economy.  According to “A Well-Educated Workforce Is Key to State Prosperity,” a report by the Economic Policy Institute dated Aug. 22, 2013:  “States can build a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in education. Providing expanded access to high quality education will not only expand economic opportunity for residents, but also likely do more to strengthen the overall state economy than anything else a state government can do.”
 
HACC and the state’s 13 other community colleges are bridging the gap between jobs needed in the workforce and trained employees to fill those jobs. It may be that an older worker needs re-training or new training to better perform an existing job. Or, an employee sees an opportunity to stretch beyond a current job but needs specific skills to move up. 
 
The possibilities and opportunities are endless. Community colleges offer science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as arts and humanities. In addition, they offer diplomas and certificates that allow students to enter directly into the workforce and associate degrees whose credits transfer to four-year colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Along the way, students may use newly acquired skills to return to the work force then return to HACC to continue their journey. More often than not, community college students are juggling full-time jobs with family responsibilities at the same time they are striving to meet their educational goals.
 
Community colleges are complex, responsive, forward-thinking and dedicated to their mission of being the engines of change. According to an analysis of HACC’s contribution to the regional economy by Mangum Economic Consulting, LLC, in May 2012:
 
  • HACC serves one of the fastest growing areas of Pennsylvania. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of HACC’s 10-county service area grew by 10.9 percent. In comparison, Pennsylvania’s population grew by 3.4 percent.
  • HACC plays a pivotal role as the institution of choice for (a) 83 percent of residents attending any public or private two-year college within its service area and (b) 34 percent of Pennsylvania residents attending any public or private, two- or four-year, college or university within its service area. HACC also is the largest provider of associate degrees, the largest provider of post-secondary education to “non-traditional” adult students and the largest provider of post-secondary education to minorities.
  • HACC makes a major economic and fiscal contribution to Central Pennsylvania through its operations and capital expenditures, and spending from its students. In fiscal year 2010-11, HACC was responsible for contributing $173 million in direct spending to Central Pennsylvania. Accounting for leakages from the regional economy, that $173 million generated $106 million in net spending that stayed in the regional economy. The economic ripple effects from those dollars then created a total of $178 million in additional economic activity within Central Pennsylvania, supported a total of 2,308 jobs, and generated $10.1 million in state and local tax revenue.
  • The typical median wage for occupations in Central Pennsylvania that require an associate degree is $48,166, while the typical median wage for occupations that require only a high school diploma is $37,015. That difference of $11,152 a year illustrates the importance of a community college education.
Financial support from Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania’s legislators is crucial to the economic well-being of the state’s residents and the Commonwealth’s economic and workforce viability.

I strongly urge you to reach out to your state legislators to voice your support for the governor’s commitment to continuing the mission of HACC and the state’s other 13 community colleges.
 
John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D., is the seventh president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
 
For further information or general inquiries, please email newsroom@hacc.edu. This is the most effective way to ensure a timely response.

About HACC
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers more than 150 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to nearly 20,000 students at campuses in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York and through online classes. In addition, HACC serves more than 29,000 students in noncredit workforce development, public safety, adult basic education and continuing education programs offered at all campuses and off-site locations in many communities in Central Pennsylvania. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit www.hacc.edu.
 
 
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Contact(s):
For further information, please contact newsroom@hacc.edu.
 

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