The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 3, 2013

Penn Highlands president: College 'moving forward'

Kelly Urban

— Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is not only experiencing growth, but also establishing community partnerships that are allowing the college to offer students a quality education.

That’s the message President Walter Asonevich conveyed Wednesday at the annual state of the college address. He spoke about new developments at the school during the past year.

“We’re doing tremendous things in Cambria County and the surrounding region,” he said.

“A community college belongs to the local community, and we are moving forward and doing the best we can do for students.”

A new partnership with JWF Industries allows students to receive an associate degree in welding and receive training on-site at JFW.

“They’ve told us they can train welders. But with the college education, the workers are more productive,” Asonevich said.

The college is working with Conemaugh Health System to offer the general education components in nursing, radiology, paramedics and histology.

Penn Highlands also is teaming with Greater Johnstown High School to give culinary arts students the opportunity to work in the high school’s kitchen during evening hours.

“Partnerships are important because it’s making things available that we couldn’t afford to do by ourselves,” Asonevich said.

“Having success with these is what will help us get new partnerships.”

The Accelerated College Education program, which gives high school students the opportunity to simultaneously earn their high school diploma and an associate degree in general studies from the college, continues to generate interest. More than 1,700 high school students in 11 counties have earned college credits over the past year.

The school is in the process of seeking National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships accreditation, which serves as a national accrediting body for concurrent enrollment programs and helps students experience a seamless transition to college.

And the college is set to open its Blair Center that will be housed inside Altoona’s Logan Valley Mall. Classes are scheduled to begin in the fall.

Conversations are in the works to open a campus in Mifflin County.

“We’ve seen 40 percent student growth over the last year, so we are growing as an institution and we plan to keep growing for another 10 years,” Asonevich said.