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Edinboro University’s new Porreco College in Erie offers 2-year programs at community college rates


ERIE — Filling a major void in educational opportunities in the Erie region, Edinboro University announced a visionary initiative to make workforce-ready degree and certificate programs available at community college prices.

The initiative and a major gift that will help launch it were unveiled by President Julie E. Wollman at an event held March 26 at the University’s Erie location, which has been renamed Porreco College.

Beginning in Fall 2014, the cost of full-time attendance for students enrolled in a Porreco College associate degree or certificate program will be just $2,341 per semester – true community college rates, President Wollman said.

The low cost is made possible the creation of a $3,000 per year scholarship called the Porreco Promise.

The Porreco Promise will be funded through private donations, the first of which is a $1 million gift from Erie businessman and civic leader Louis Porreco and his wife, Debbie. The couple’s gift will support the initial semesters of the Porreco Promise and provide the start of an endowment that eventually will sustain the program.

In announcing the $1 million gift, the Porreco Promise and plans for further development of Porreco College, President Wollman also introduced the college’s new identity as The Community’s College.

“Porreco College, the Community’s College, will provide the expanded, job-focused associate degree and certificate programs at a low cost that will enable the broader community to affordably address the critical issues of educational attainment, workforce readiness and breaking the poverty cycle,” she said.

She said calling Porreco College The Community’s College is appropriate because of the access and affordability it offers students, its responsiveness to employer needs in the development of new programs, and the connection it will forge with the community.

Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, who participated in the announcement, praised the Porreco College initiatives.

“Educational attainment is an economic development issue,” she said. “It’s critical to boost educational attainment so the emerging workforces in Erie County are attractive to employers. The Porreco College can make a significant positive impact.”

Porreco Promise scholarships will be available to any student from Erie County who is enrolled full-time in a two-year associate degree or certificate program offered at the Porreco College. Nathan Ritchey, Ph.D., dean of Edinboro’s College of Science and Health Professions, said the offerings this fall will include five programs: 

  • Certificate in Customer Relations Management
  • Associate of Applied Science Degree in Applied Technology
  • Associate of Arts Degree in Human Services – Social Services
  • Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies
  • Associate of Science Degree in Business Administration

Additional programs are being developed based on the Associate of Applied Science degree model, which is unique in the region in offering college credit for approved technical or on-the-job training, Dean Ritchey said. AAS degrees in aeronautics and public safety are planned for Fall 2015, and others are being explored, along with partnerships with manufacturers and the region’s large agriculture and food industries.

Dean Ritchey, who led the effort to launch Porreco College after spending two years working on a similar effort at Youngstown State University in Ohio, praised the potential of the 26-acre former estate and working farm, which also was a gift to the University from Louis Porreco in 1986.

About 300 students now attend classes there, with most facilities located in the renovated ground floor of the main barn. Dean Ritchey said there is capacity for about 150 additional students this fall. 

He shared plans for additional renovations in the barn and other buildings to accommodate an enrollment of up to 1,500 students. The facilities all will be developed within the footprint of existing structures, he said, and the rural charm of the property will be retained.

Dean Ritchey said full development of the property’s considerable potential will take place over several years. The addition of classrooms on the main floor of the barn, where the announcement event took place, will begin in 2015 using a $2.8 million state grant, he said.

The schedule for further construction will be determined by need and funding, which will come from private donations.

“I’m personally delighted that the university has given me a role in developing the full potential of this exceptional property for the benefit of the community,” he said. 

An information session for neighbors of the 2951 W. 38th Street campus is planned there Thursday, April 24, at 7 p.m.

Applications for fall semester enrollment are now being accepted, and a Porreco College Open House for perspective students will be held Saturday, May 3, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions, is available on the Porreco College web pages at Call the college at (814) 836-1955 to learn more.