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05 December 2019

HACC President Hosts Virtual News Conference

Session provides updates about initiatives, activities at the College

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Initiatives and activities at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, were addressed Dec. 5, 2019, during a virtual news conference hosted by HACC President and CEO John J. “Ski” Sygielski, MBA, Ed.D.
Outstanding Achievements and Initiatives
Highlights of recent achievements and initiatives include the following:
Academics and Workforce Development

  • Low or no-cost Open Educational Resources (OER) are available to our students. This is part of HACC’s 2019-22 strategic plan and focus on student retention.
  • The renovated second floor of the McCormick Library on HACC’s Harrisburg Campus is a beautiful and functional space for students to get tutoring help and find quiet study spaces.
  • HACC partners with businesses across the region and develops programming based on the needs of employers. One such collaboration for credit and noncredit online classes will expand our reach to providing education to students in India. The commitment is “Skill India” with a focus on commerce, humanities and workforce training.

Student Affairs

  • HACC hosts annual “Spooktacular” FAFSA workshops on Halloween to help students and parents navigate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • HACC identified two growing groups to provide more support – virtual dual enrollment and nontraditional students – for the fall 2019 semester. Thirty-minute online interest group chats were offered to provide increased support and connection for these populations.

Technology and Innovation

  • HACC is leveraging artificial intelligence to support students with the Socratic process in discussion boards.
  • The “1 to 1 Device Initiative” will provide HACC students the opportunity to purchase a Chromebook with internet service for a low cost. HACC is working with faculty to offer all-online content for degree completion on the device.
  • Our virtual and augmented reality project is a collaboration between HACC and Techlink: South Central PA Consortium for Career and Technical Education. The innovative virtual and augmented reality content will create greater awareness for the trades as well as engaging online content. 

Public Relations, Marketing and Fundraising

  • HACC’s new marketing campaign highlights three HACC students – a recent high school graduate, an adult student and a workforce development student – who face similar challenges and have similar dreams to many current and future students. This “persona” campaign allows HACC to better reach our target audiences and increase their interest in the College.
  • The College is finding creative ways to provide tuition giveaway opportunities to our students and make HACC even more affordable.

State of Higher Education
National Challenges
Challenges faced at HACC and other postsecondary institutions across the country include declines in enrollment, demographic shifts, fast-paced technology trends, changing teaching methods and resource pressures.
State Challenges
Despite advocacy efforts by community college presidents, students and employees, the Commonwealth has not adequately increased funding levels for the state’s 14 community colleges.
HACC Challenges
As enrollments decline in Central Pennsylvania and nationally, HACC faces increasing competition from four-year institutions, including aggressive marketing by those offering online degrees.
HACC students also face serious personal challenges, including food insecurity, housing, finances and trauma that interfere with their goals of further education.

HACC Budget Deficits
Over the past decade, HACC has experienced decreases in various sources and enrollment declines by about 25% as operating expenses continued to grow. As a result, the 2019 fiscal year-end operating loss projection is $3 million, and the projected 2020 fiscal year-end budgeted operating loss is approximately $2.7 million (amount is tentative and subject to change).

Additional information about HACC’s 2019-20 budget can be found here:
HACC’s Reorganization

One-College Reorganization
HACC is going through a reorganization to remain fiscally stable and to continue providing outstanding educational services to our students and our communities. The HACC Board of Trustees has charged us with completing our reorganization by July 1, 2020, to ensure HACC avoids becoming another statistic in the nationwide trend of college closings. This includes:

  • Moving from a campus-based model to deliver programs and organize around academic schools
  • Changing and eliminating some positions
  • Making structural and organizational changes to ensure that every HACC student has a consistent, stellar experience at the College

Clinical Mental Health Counseling
The decision to end clinical mental health counseling in mid-September 2019 resulted from an internal review of counseling data and HACC’s reorganization. HACC is one of four community colleges in Pennsylvania to outsource mental health counseling.
HACC recently signed an agreement with Mazzitti & Sullivan to provide free mental health counseling services and 24/7 access for students.

Additional information regarding clinical mental health counseling at HACC is available in the College’s online newsroom:
Live at Rose Lehrman Performing Artist Series
The Live at Rose Lehrman (LARL) series will end in March 2020. The decision was informed by financial losses, declining attendance and market saturation.
HACC’s Lebanon Campus
The College is in discussion with potential buyers at HACC’s Lebanon Campus. Only 50% of the campus is currently being used for classes and services. However, HACC remains committed to students, employees and the Lebanon community.
HACC is conducting a review of multiple areas as a potential cost-savings measure, including the bookstores; facilities and grounds keeping; and public safety and security. This research does not mean that these services will be automatically outsourced. An earlier review of custodial services and payroll concluded these operations will not be outsourced.
There will need to be a significant financial benefit to the College to make the transition to outsourcing services. In addition, the vendor would need to provide the same level of quality or higher quality of service. If the College moves forward with outsourcing any services, we will make sure we can do so with minimal or no interruption in service to our employees and, most especially, our students.
The majority of Pennsylvania community colleges are already outsourcing some or all of these functions.

Invest. Impact. Inspire. Campaign for HACC
The HACC Foundation is devoting its full attention to the College’s area of greatest need: raising funds to support the Bruce E. Cooper Student Center.
After a renovation that was completed in August 2017, the Cooper Student Center has been transformed into an attractive, modern facility that has enhanced the student experience and become the central location of student services and activities.
Each day, the new Cooper Student Center serves more than 7,500 students, 400 full-time employees and countless visitors.
The Vision for HACC’s Future
Key goals shaping the vision for HACC’s future are to:
  • Enhance educational programming
  • Improve student retention and graduation rates
  • Strengthen the pipelines through which students flow into the College
  • Operate with greater efficiency and remove unnecessary duplication in programming and services
  • Retool ourselves to be even more responsive to employers
  • Garner additional support from the General Assembly
In addition, the following topics were broached during the news conference:
Reorganization Critical to HACC’s Success
HACC is reorganizing to a One-College model to better serve students and provide a sustainable future. As noted above, HACC has experienced decreases in various sources and enrollment declines by about 25% over the past decade as operating expenses continued to grow.
The reorganization is moving forward with a targeted completion of June 2020 to address these factors and ensure that HACC does not become another statistic in the closing of postsecondary institutions across the country.
Recruitment and Retention Efforts
To address the declining number of graduating high school students, HACC’s recruitment efforts are focusing on a growing number of nontraditional, adult students and reaching out to more diverse populations, including students of color and those who are underrepresented and underserved.
In addition, HACC is continuing to develop partnerships with companies to enhance their employees’ skills. The College works with business and industries as a portable training resource.
HACC’s Presence Continues in Midtown Harrisburg
HACC is not leaving Midtown.
HACC’s Trade and Technology Center in Midtown includes Midtown 1 at Fourth and Reily streets and Midtown 2 at Third and Reily streets. In 2018, HACC announced its plan to relocate the College’s trade and technology programs from Midtown 2 to other buildings on HACC campuses once the current lease expires in June 2022.
HACC owns Midtown 1, which is thriving with over 20 programs. HACC will maintain its presence in the Midtown area and is committed to its success.
About HACC
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. HACC offers approximately 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 learners. Also, the College serves learners at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), follow us on Instagram (@HACC_edu), like us on Facebook ( and use #HACCNews.

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