The Education Consortium of the Upper Allegheny (ECUA) was formed in 2009 with a mission to deliver high quality community and technical education/training opportunities, with open admissions and low cost, that had never been available to citizens of north central and northwestern Pennsylvania. The lack of associate and technical degree programs in the area had been a topic of conversation among educators, legislators, and residents for several years, and the ECUA aimed to fill this void.
A geographically mixed Board of Trustees was put in place, and a President was hired. Consortium had experience in postsecondary, K-12 public schools, community education council, intermediate units, and business.
Drawing upon the historical experiences of the strong network of Community Education Councils in the region, ECUA realized two points:
- In the short term, the region needed an educational institution that shares its mission and willingness to test a unique delivery model.
- In the long term, it would be necessary to form the region’s own college under different operating and funding mechanisms than those currently in place under existing Pennsylvania community college law.
To address the short-term goal, a request for proposals (RFP) was issued and several post-secondary institutions submitted. The proposal that best addressed the needs and concerns of ECUA was submitted by Gannon University. Gannon University was selected based on the costs proposed and their ability and intent to align this outreach program with ECUA’s mission and vision. The Gannon-ECUA partnership has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for testing the RRC delivery model.
To address the long-term goal, additional research was conducted to determine the feasibility of developing the region’s own college. As a result of this research, PA Senate Bill 1000 was written and proposed in the fall of 2013. Bill 1000 was the pivotal piece of legislation needed to move forward with addressing a permanent solution. It calls for a different funding formula and educational delivery system that would be critical to the success of this rural type of community college. A companion House Bill was developed and proposed in the spring of 2014.
With the passage of the state budget and fiscal code in July 2014, the Rural Regional College (RRC) was enacted. Subsequently, the initial legislation from 2014 was then incorporated into the PA Public School Code as Article XIX-G in July 2016.
What is the RRC?
The RRC is built on a community college style model offering affordable and accessible post-secondary offerings to a nine county area in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The RRC currently serves 87 students in 17 locations.
The RRC is an open admission program requiring only a high school diploma or GED to enroll.
The RRC employs only highly recommended, master level adjunct professors.
The RRC is built upon a student support model providing remediation and tutoring whenever needed.
The RRC is a collaborative model sharing resources and facilities with many school districts & current post-secondary providers.
The RRC has resolutions of support from the majority of school districts, CECs, IUs, Career & Tech Centers, & WDBs within its footprint.
The mission of the Rural Regional College of Northern Pennsylvania is to provide affordable and accessible education opportunities to the underserved populace of this area by collaborating with local educational and administrative agencies, utilizing an innovative delivery model that is responsive to economic needs, and providing training which leads to family sustaining careers.
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 is also does not have a traditional brick and mortar campus. RRC utilizes video conferencing technology to connect professors to students tuning in from existing community facilities, such as local libraries or community centers. Using existing facilities offers convenience to the student and keeps costs low, while providing a highly interactive college experience.
ECUA / Gannon Partnership
For the past four years, ECUA and Gannon have operated the Affordable Associate Degree program as a hybrid. Two degrees are currently offered: Interdisciplinary Studies and Business Management.
Courses are taught live in one of the fourteen centers within the region and telecast live to all other locations through the use of interactive television.
For the 2017-2018 year, the RRC will continue to offer the two programs in Business Administration and Interdisciplinary studies, through a contracted partnership with Gannon.
ECUA will remain contracted with the RRC to continue managing this partnership program with Gannon as the new RRC administration and staff begin developing the college’s independent operations and programs.
Rural Regional College Board of TrusteesThe board meets on the 2nd Friday of each month in various locations throughout the region.
- Ms. Mary Jo White, Chair
- Retired State Senator, PA Senate
- Mr. Ed Pitchford, Vice Chair
- President/CEO, Cole Memorial Hospital
- Ms. Kate Brock, Secretary
- Executive Director, Elk/Cameron Community Education Center
- Ms. Mary Bula
- Vice President, Collective Impact at United Way of Erie County
- Ms. Nancy Decker
- President, Laurel Technical Institute
- Ms. Amanda Hetrick
- Superintendent, Forest Area School District
- Mr. Robert Kaemmerer
- Vice President, United Refining Company
- Mr. Hank LeMeur
- President/CEO, Superior Tire and Rubber Co.
- Mr. Greg Mahon
- Budget/ Policy Director, Office of the Senate Pro Tempore
- Dr. Richard McDowell
- President Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
- Mr. Douglas Morley
- Commisioner, Potter County
- Mr. Louis Radkowski
- Councilman, City of Saint Marys
- Ms. Susan Snelick
- Executive Director, North Central Workforce Investment Board
- Dr. Karen Whitney
- President, Clarion University
- Mr. Dennis Wilke
- President, Precision Manufacturing Institute