The Board of Directors for the Rural Regional College of Northern Pennsylvania (RRC) are pleased to announce that the College was approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education, yesterday, May 25, 2017, in accordance with section 1906-G (b) of the Public School Code of 1949. With this approval, the RRC has made the historic achievement of being the first community college like institution north of I-80, and the first regional school of its kind.
RRC Board of Trustees Chairperson Retired Pennsylvania Senator Mary Jo White stated, “The Board of Trustees heartily commends all the individuals who have worked so diligently and professionally in guiding this plan through to its successful approval. It was truly a collaborative team effort that led to the creation of this new college and a new, unique and much needed post-secondary educational option for the area. This will be every community’s college from Erie to Emporium.”
Of the decision, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said, “The Department undertook a detailed review of the college plan submitted by the [RRC] Board, and I commend the Board on the time and effort taken to prepare the plan. Per the Department’s existing protocol for reviewing new colleges and universities, we convened a team of internal and external subject matter experts with relevant experience and knowledge of postsecondary education, accreditation, policy, law and finance to review the plan and inform my decision.”
With plans to enroll its first students in partnership with Gannon University for Fall 2017 classes, the RRC’s mission is to provide affordable and accessible education opportunities to the underserved populace of nine Northwestern Pennsylvania counties–Cameron, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, McKean, Potter, Venango and Warren. The RRC will collaborate with local educational and administrative agencies to utilize an innovative delivery model that is responsive to economic needs, and provides training that leads to family sustaining careers. It is an open admission program requiring only a high school diploma or GED to enroll.
The RRC embodies a unique teaching model unlike anything else in Pennsylvania–and possibly the nation. The RRC is not an online college, yet it also does not have a traditional brick and mortar campus. RRC utilizes video conferencing technology to connect professors to students in existing community facilities, such as local libraries or community education centers. Using existing facilities eliminates travel and the usual college-related living expenses (such as housing and meal costs) for the student and keeps costs low, while providing a highly interactive college experience.
“The Board and I are thrilled with the plan approval,” said Duane Vicini, ECUA President and RRC Project Executive. “We have worked for almost a decade to bring the RRC to the underserved communities of Northwestern Pennsylvania, and we look forward to officially launching in Fall 2017.”
Development of the RRC began in 2012 with the creation of a pilot program, the Education Consortium of the Upper Allegheny, to fill the educational and training void resulting from the lack of community colleges in the region. The ECUA will continue its planned transition to the RRC in Fall 2017, now that approval has been received from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.