HACC Placed On Accreditation Warning Status

The accrediting organization overseeing Harrisburg Area Community College has placed the system on warning status.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education found HACC was lacking in three of its 14 criteria during the five-year periodic review.

But HACC and Middle States officials emphasized the system, which includes a York campus, is not in any immediate danger of losing its accreditation, which allows a college to grant diplomas.

The periodic review, done halfway after HACC was given its 10-year accreditation, helps make sure a college is fulfilling its obligations, said Middle States spokesman Richard Pokrass.

HACC had issues in the areas of Institutional Assessment, which deals with how well a college can monitor and show it’s doing everything it says its doing; Assessment of Student Learning, which deals with a collegetracking classroom learning and having a system to improve instruction; and General Education.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/787730_HACC-placed-on-accreditation-warning-status-.html#ixzz2DjFwCK3s

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Harrisburg Mayor Gets Poor Marks For Keeping Low Profile

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The Harrisburg Patriot has given Mayor Linda Thompson a very public chiding in today’s editorial due to her public absence during Harrisburg’s water main crisis that shut down state, county and city government, the school district, HACC and local businesses. 

Harrisburg’s main water line was accidentally ruptured and released thousands of gallons of water into a brownfield site near Cameron Street.  Millions of gallons of drinking water a day were lost due to the break and everything in Harrisburg came to an abrupt halt.  There was concern about having adequate water supplies for fire stations and Harrisburg Hospital.  The entire city could have been without water had this situation not been handled quickly and efficiently.

While the mayor was doing things behind the scenes, her lack of visibility has raised some eyebrows.  Mayor Thompson held no news conference until Wednesday.  The crisis occurred on Sunday and city residents have boiled water for several days.

21-Year-Old Harrisburg Area Community College Student Running For Harrisburg City School Board

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I am always glad to read stories about young people who want get involved and make a difference.  A young woman and student at Harrisburg Area Community College is running for a Harrisburg City School Board seat.  In an interesting turn of events, a candidate supported by Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson challenged Destini Hodges’ candidacy.  Autumn Cooper was trying to make sure everyone running was “legit”.  Hmmmmmmm…

Fortunately, Commonwealth Court upheld a March 21st decision by Dauphin County Judge, Scott Evans to allow Destini to stay on the ballot for the May 17th Democratic primary. 

We find Ms. Cooper’s motives rather questionable.  Ms. Cooper was appointed to the former board of control by Mayor Linda Thompson last year.  This year Ms. Cooper is being supported by Linda Thompson for a seat on the school board.  The fact that the first ruling was appealed to Commonwealth Court is ridiculous.

Our advice to Ms. Cooper is to not take any wooden nickels from the mayor.

Harrisburg Area Community College Scores Home Run With York County Branch

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When Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) opened their York County branch in 2003, I wonder if anyone could have predicted the rapid growth that followed.

Community Colleges are a great alternative to four-year institutions because of the price differential and flexibility they offer.  For a fraction of the cost associated with traditional four-year institutions, students can work full-time and attend classes around their busy schedules for a substantially lower cost per credit hour.

HACC’s York College branch has seen tremendous growth.  The York campus saw a 34% increase in enrollment between 2008 and 2009.  Enrollment stands and 2,900 students, which is up 5% since the Spring 2010 semester.  There is competition in the York market for college students.  York College, Penn State York and nearby Millersville University already compete for students.  To have the student body swell to nearly 3,000 students in only 8 years demonstrates a need in the York market for affordable education.

The York branch is the fastest growing campus in the HACC family.  HACC has campuses in Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Lebanon, Lancaster and York as well as a Virtual Campus.  There are more than 23,000 students are enrolled at HAAC’S five brick and mortar campuses and over 5,300 at the Virtual Campus (online courses).

For more information:  http://www.hacc.edu/

Midtown Harrisburg Becoming Arts And Cultural District: Susquehanna Art Museum Moving To Midtown

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A vacant property is set to become the new home of the Susquehanna Art Museum in Midtown Harrisburg.  Midtown is a neighborhood in transition.  If you recall my 3rd in the Burg post, I touched on Harrisburg’s emerging arts and cultural scene.  This neighborhood has become a focal point of urban renewal and revitalization by making itself a “destination” that is attracting people to Harrisburg.

Millions of dollars are being poured into Midtown redevelopment.  Creative business owners like Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Midtown Cinema, Midtown Harrisburg Arts Center and a growing list of restaurants and cafés are also leading the way.  The addition of the Susquehanna Art Museum will strengthen the fledgling district and attract more business to the area.  Having events like 3rd in the Burg already in place will only accelerate revitalization efforts.

Another huge addition to Midtown will be the new federal courthouse that will break ground in 2013.  The $130 million building will bring an influx of workers into the neighborhood that have disposable income to spend on things like food and arts/culture, along with other businesses that will sprout up as the result of all this development.  The site of the new federal courthouse is now a parking lot.

GreenWorks Development has been busy spending redevelopment dollars in Midtown.  They own a large amount of property in the neighborhood, including the new museum site.  In addition to the $50 million they have spent thus far, they plan to spend another $75 million on future projects.  Harrisburg Area Community College and Fulton Bank have already benefited from GreenWorks’ projects.  A four-story Campus Green building, costing $14.3 million, is another project that has benefited Midtown.  GreenWorks is also involved with residential development by creating affordable and market-priced housing in Midtown, which will be critical for Midtown’s continued redevelopment.

Midtown Development has also been a player in this neighborhood’s revitalization efforts by renovating blighted properties.

Local business owners and residents are optimistic.  Most see a bright future for Midtown.  There are always some skeptics and detractors, but the majority of residents see these changes as taking their neighborhood in the right direction.  There is still a long road ahead and things take time, but tangible progress is being made to revitalize Midtown Harrisburg and make it “the place to be” in Pennsylvania’s capital city.

Bad Economy Is Good For Harrisburg Area Community College

Ever since the economy nose-dived in 2008, enrollment at Harrisburg Area Community College has increased dramatically.

In 2008 enrollment at HACC’s 5 campuses was 19,866.  Last year enrollment hit 22,529.  This year enrollment is expected to come in at 25,000 students!

Community college offers students a close to home and much less expensive educational alternative versus going to one of Pennsylvania’s universities and staying in a dormitory or apartment.  The cost per credit hour and the ability to avoid paying for room and board, on top of tuition, is economically achievable for many students.

Montgomery County Community College has also experienced an enrollment boom from the bad economy.  Our own West Campus here in Pottstown continues to exceed enrollment expectations.