The Erie County Community College (EC3PA) has announced plans to open their newest site at the former Villa Maria Academy.

This announcement comes as Villa Maria and Cathedral Prep are set to merge, using one downtown campus beginning in the fall.

EC3PA board members unanimously voted upon a lease agreement that will bring a branch campus to West 8th Street.

Board members from the community college say this site, which they’re calling “Erie West,” will provide easier access to education for those wishing to advance their future.

Christopher Gray, President of EC3PA, said that he is “confident that these campuses will help provide jobs to students following their education.”

He also notes that “no student in Erie county should be 30 minutes away from access to changing the trajectory of their life.”

Other board members echoed how this acquisition will provide opportunity for community members.

“To me it means that we have a campus environment, not that all of them will look like campuses, but as you know, Villa has been educating Erieites for many, many, many, many, years and now. It’s just an extension of getting Erieites back on the table and back in the classrooms,” said Kay Sintal, Chair of EC3 psych committee.

EC3PA board members have made it clear that they wish to honor the legacy that Villa has built on this land.

“We have great respect for the legacy of Villa Maria. We go into this situation with humility but an understanding that we have an important responsibility to continue educational options for our students and to give them a pathway to a job,” said Ron DiNicola, Chair of EC3PA Board of Trustees.

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The Erie County Community College will now have 4 locations — Corry, Summit, Erie East, and now the recently acquired Erie West.