Pennsylvania Highlands Community College began the celebration of its twentieth year with a picnic at its Richland Campus. The picnic, held on Friday, September 5, 2014, marks 20 years to the day that the first classes were held at what w
as formerly known as Cambria County Area Community College. Those in attendance included Cambria County Commissioners Mark Wissinger and Tom Chernisky, Congressman Keith Rothfus, Senator John Wozniak, and Representative Bryan Barbin.
“Realistically, a twenty year old College is still in its infancy,” said Pennsylvania Highlands President Dr. Walter Asonevich. “We are well aware of the tremendous strides we have taken to get to where we are right now, but we are also cognizant of the potential that exists for this College as we head into our next twenty years and beyond. There is obviously much reason to celebrate.”
The former Cambria County Area Community College started offering classes on September 5, 1994, utilizing space at a number of locations throughout Cambria County, including Hiram G. Andrews, Central Park Complex, Bishop Carrol High School, Concurrent Technology Corporation and Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center. “We taught classes all over the county,” said current Professor of Business Management, Sandy Schrum. “Our cars were our offices and we would get office furniture and supplies donated from other businesses. It definitely felt like we were trying to overcome overwhelming odds at the time, but seeing how far we have come is so rewarding.”
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College now boasts a 125,000 square foot main campus in Richland and has other locations in Ebensburg, Huntingdon, Somerset and Blair Counties. Serving approximately 2,000 students per year, the College has educated over 27,000 students since its inception and has 105 full-time and over 100 part-time employees.
“It’s awesome to see our growth.” said current employee and former student, Scott Beamer. “I used to have to visit two or three different locations to take classes. There was a time when every department in the College, from the President’s Office to the Marketing Department shared two rooms at the Hiram G. Andrews Center. Look at us now.”
Commissioner Wissinger, who was a commissioner when the College started in 1994, reflected on the growth of the College and its impact on the community, “We took a leap of faith in starting the College, but I remember Ron Budash saying if you build it they will come. What the College has been able to accomplish in twenty years is phenomenal. I look forward to the next twenty years.”
The growth of the College is a testament to the support the Cambria County community has provided. “This College is a perfect example of what can happen when people within a community put their faith behind something and work to see it through.” said College President, Dr. Walter Asonevich.
To commemorate the anniversary, Penn Highlands’ students, faculty, staff and Board members will join together to participate in twenty acts of kindness throughout the community. These will include volunteering at local nonprofits, collecting items for the elderly, veterans, food banks and animal shelters, participating in United Way Day of Caring and hosting groups at the College.
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