Oh-Penn Region's Colleges, Universities Prepare Students for Hottest Industries

The entire Oh-Penn Interstate Region is lucky to have several colleges and universities that provide students with higher-education choices.

Gary Wollenhaupt
On Friday, September 9, 2011 - 14:02

The answer: Butler County Community College.

The question: What was the fastest growing higher education institution in Pennsylvania during the 2010-2011 school year?

BCCC boasted an all-time enrollment of 4,450 full-time students in 2010-2011, an 18 percent increase over the previous academic year.

“Now more than ever before, the time is right for community colleges,” says Nicholas Neupauer, BCCC president. “Community colleges are affordable, accessible and provide quality academics, and Butler certainly embodies that.”

Neupauer became BCCC president in 2007 with a goal of making Butler a regional institution, and it is. Today, there is a main campus in Butler Township along with satellite campuses at Cranberry in Cranberry Township, Lawrence Crossing in Union Township and LindenPointe in Hermitage.

“We have programs geared for students to transfer after being here for two years, which saves them tens of thousands of dollars during those first two years,” Neupauer says. “Plus we have technical programs that lead directly into the workforce. For example, a new one introduced for the fall 2011 semester is a degree in homeland security, and we also offer degrees for in-demand programs such as robotics and manufacturing.”

Multiple Choice

The entire Oh-Penn Interstate Region is lucky to have several colleges and universities that provide students with higher education choices. The region’s Ohio section includes Allegheny Wesleyan College, three campuses of Kent State University, Northeast Ohio Bible College and Walsh University, while the two counties in Pennsylvania offer academic options such as Grove City College, Penn State Shenango Campus, Thiel College and Westminster College.

Perhaps the centerpiece of the higher education matrix in the five-county Oh-Penn Interstate Region is the 13,500-student Youngstown State University. Besides preparing students for the hottest of today’s careers, the university also boosts economic development in the region through research and collaborations with public and private sector organizations.


For example, students and faculty at YSU's College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) work with area companies on new technologies and educational opportunities that create jobs and investment.

“Our particular college has chemistry students talking to mechanical engineers on a regular basis, and mathematicians talking to biologists, and so forth,” says Martin Abraham, College of STEM dean. “The college promotes academic interaction between all STEM students, so they can work together on projects to support industrial and business needs of the entire Oh-Penn Region.”

Good for Business

Also helping students get ready for careers that will further bolster economic development in the region is YSU’s Williamson College of Business Administration.

“About 1,850 undergraduate business majors and 100 MBAs are here, with this college being accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, which accredits only 5 percent of the business schools in the entire world,” says Betty Jo Licata, dean of Williamson College of Business Administration.

Licata says thousands of Williamson graduates have gone on to high-paying careers in accounting, advertising, business economics, finance, human resources, international business, management information systems, marketing and public relations.

“Plus in July 2011, 20 students traveled to China for two weeks,” she says. “They went there to learn about business and the diverse economy in that fast-emerging nation.”


Gary Wollenhaupt is a freelance writer covering economic development, travel, technology and green home building.