By Sierra Smith | Photographs from CCAC
In a city with as many illustrious colleges and universities as Pittsburgh, it’s important to recognize and remember the history that brought us here. Throughout 2016, the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) celebrated its golden anniversary: 50 years of providing students from all different backgrounds the opportunity for higher education. “Looking back and seeing how many lives we’ve touched, it’s amazing,” says Rose Ann DiCola, chief executive officer of the CCAC Educational Foundation. “Over 1 million have attended CCAC in some capacity. Fifty years, 1 million stories.”
Pennsylvania passed the Community College Act in 1963, providing the needed legal framework to establish community colleges, and by 1966, Allegheny County was the new home to two CCAC campuses, CCAC-Boyce Campus in Monroeville and CCAC-Allegheny Campus on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. Classes officially began in September of 1966, for just 1,505 students. From there, CCAC grew to four campuses and four neighborhood centers, plus additional off-site locations, and now serves nearly 30,000 credit students each year.
Today, CCAC offers more than 150 degree, certificate, diploma, and transfer programs in over 100 disciplines, and that doesn’t even include its various non-credit and workforce development courses. Because of the wide variety of courses and programs available — Arts and Humanities, Health, Business, and STEM programs, to name a few — there’s something for any interested student. And, says DiCola, “for students, it’s open-enrollment to come in, it’s easily accessible, anyone can attend CCAC. And when you look at the tuition cost, we aim to make it affordable for all.”
In addition to its accessibility and affordability, CCAC also benefits the Western Pennsylvania region at large. By effectively preparing students, says DiCola, “CCAC helps you go directly into the job market, [offering] the community around us a skilled workforce.” Many distinguished citizens of Pittsburgh are proud to call themselves CCAC alumni, including Pennsylvania State Senators James Brewster, Jay Costa, and Wayne Fontana.
For its 50th anniversary, CCAC’s incredible network of alumni, friends, and supporters contributed generously — 33 new scholarships were endowed. “We’re most appreciative to everyone in the community who got involved in our 50th year celebration,” says DiCola. “A scholarship really makes a difference for a student. For CCAC students, it’s the difference between coming to school or not.” Each endowment is a minimum of $10,000, all of which is permanently invested. Scholarships are awarded to eligible students to use toward tuition, books, and other educational expenses.
As spring approaches, CCAC is looking toward its future and the steady growth of the college’s educational community. As an institution for higher-education, it will continue to attract worthy students from all backgrounds who are each willing and committed to pursuing greater opportunities. And, according to DiCola, with more scholarships and resources available than ever, CCAC “opens a lot of doors for students.”
Community College of Allegheny County, ccac.edu.