Guest column from Rick Esch, interim president, which appeared in the June 11, 2022, edition of The Titusville Herald.
At the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville, we offer a world-class education in a small-town setting and produce graduates with skills that serve the needs of our local employers.
We have been able to do this for nearly 60 years, thanks to strong community partnerships, which we have taken to a new level.
Recognizing our region’s need for more skilled machinists—and the fact that many young adults want to learn a trade to support themselves and their families—Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering expanded its Manufacturing Assistance Center to Titusville. The MAC, which provides advanced, hands-on workforce training, has a 95% work placement rate, and our region is benefiting from the skills these students are acquiring.
The MAC is clearly an integral part of our region’s economic success. But the center is only part of the story that is Pitt-Titusville’s Education and Training Hub.
Our highly regarded nursing program continues to produce well-trained health care professionals who competently and compassionately provide first-rate care to the residents in our region.
An alliance with the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College is providing opportunities for students to pursue careers in business, criminal justice, and other fields.
And, most recently, our collaboration with the successful Manchester Bidwell Corporation has resulted in a new clinical medical assistant and phlebotomy program that is being offered by the Brockway Center for Technology and the Arts at Titusville, an affiliate of Manchester Bidwell.
Through these partnerships, Pitt-Titusville has elevated its role as a one-stop shop for workforce opportunities in the region and as a major source of economic stability for the area. Though not a large campus, we deliver a powerful economic boost for our area: Pitt-Titusville has an economic impact of $20 million for the state, supports and sustains more than 200 jobs in the community, and generates nearly $1 million each year in state and local tax revenue.
Despite this success, there is a cloud on the horizon. Some politicians in Harrisburg are looking to eliminate the state’s appropriation for the University of Pittsburgh this year, an investment the state has made for well over 50 years.
That appropriation goes directly to the in-state tuition discount that makes a Pitt education more attainable for Pennsylvania students. Here at Titusville, that means average tuition savings of more than $14,000 every year for our nursing students.
All of that is now at risk.
Losing that state support would have a devastating effect on Pennsylvania students and their families. And the impact would reach well beyond the nearly 17,000 students who benefit from the in-state discount across Pitt’s five campuses. If the discount is eliminated, or even scaled back, local prospective students will find it harder to afford the premier education that they would receive at Pitt.
Many people who call northwestern Pennsylvania their home want to stay here to pursue their education. They want to harness and develop their talent to build a life for themselves and to help their communities prosper. Pitt-Titusville provides the opportunity for them to do that.
To keep that opportunity alive, the legislators representing our region need to vote to support the University of Pittsburgh’s appropriation in this year’s state budget. Failing to do so would be nothing less than a blow to our region’s—and our commonwealth’s—future.