Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is branching out into its fifth regional location with the addition of the “Blair Center” inside Altoona’s Logan Valley Mall.
President Walter Asonevich said he saw an opportunity to bring low-cost college credits to an untapped pocket of potential students.
“We think there’s an unmet need for open enrollment education,” he said. “The access, quality and affordability that Penn Highlands can offer.
“We anticipate that Blair County will grow to be our largest academic center outside of our main campus and could possibly become larger.”
Heading up the new center is Julie Patosky, a Pitt-Johnstown grad holding a bachelor’s in business management. For the past six years, she’s managed a graduate program at Penn State University. Her first position after graduating from UPJ in 2005 was as communications director for Infomedics Group, the for-profit arm of Conemaugh Health Systems.
Patosky’s also working on a master’s degree in community and economic development from Penn State, aside from her new responsibilities: Student recruiting, community relations and management of the Blair Center.
“This will be my first experience (in managing an entire center),” she said, although she cited her experience in academic advising and community outreach.
“I was just very excited for the opportunity to work in my community,” she said. “I currently reside in Altoona, so I see the need for the educational programming that Penn Highlands Community College will bring to its residents.”
Late summer courses are expected to run from July 2 through mid-August, according to Patosky, and the center will be fully opened for the 2013-14 fall semester. Courses in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, general studies, psychology and teacher education will be offered.
“A lot of what we offer is developmental,” said Asonevich.
Those developmental credits, designed to shore up English, math and science proficiencies to college level, are $39 each at any of the five Penn Highlands locations.
“That’s well below our in-county prices and very much below out-of-county prices,” he said, adding that a three-credit course, normally costing around $470, would be just under $120.
The center is next to the Macy’s department store in the Logan Valley Mall – it’s a leased space that Asonevich expects they’ll grow out of within three or four years. He said the campus will operate outside the normal mall hours and classes could start as early as 8 a.m.
Patosky said she has been working with local high schools and employers who offer college training to kick-start enrollment.