My No. 1 reason to give thanks in 2020? Easy one!

November 19, 2020

I’ve been at this blog since the early days of my presidency.

I’ve enjoyed writing it. Brings back memories of when I was a sports columnist many years ago.

My favorite opinion pieces back then were the ones in which I wrote an easy-to-read list, a Top 10 List.

My lists were much like late-night TV host David Letterman’s Top 10s. (Remember them? Remember him?)

One of my favorite Top 10 columns was written in 1991 prior to Super Bowl XXV between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants. It was headlined, “Top 10 reasons why I won’t be watching the Super Bowl.”

No. 1 on that Top 10 list was “one man’s tribute to the greatest football team to ever take the gridiron – the Pittsburgh Steelers.” Those Steelers are still proving to be great with a 9-0 record some 29 years later. 

I’ve used this blog around Thanksgiving to provide a “Top 10 reasons to give thanks” list as president of Butler County Community College. I’ve enjoyed contemplating these reasons every fall.

But this year, no list.

No countdown to No. 1.

In 2020, there is only one entry:

I give great thanks to the faculty, staff and students of BC3.

I am humbled by your dedication. Like true Pioneers, you never wavered from the goal of providing or attaining a quality education. Neither time, nor space nor a virus can prevent your laser-like focus.

These Pioneers are committed to safety. These Pioneers support the steps the college has taken to ensure our physical and mental well-being, and the safety of all our BC3 locations.

Steelers head coach Chuck Noll used to say, “Whatever it takes.” His teams would do “whatever it takes” on their way to claiming four Super Bowls in six years beginning in 1975. No obstacle too big, no adversity insurmountable.

The same is true of the faculty, staff and students of our five-time No. 1-ranked community college. Please know I thank each and every one of you this holiday season.

Have a safe and restful Thanksgiving.

Forever Pioneer Proud!   


Butler County’s advantages on national stage

October 5, 2020

It’s been a long time since I was appointed as president of Butler County Community College.  

Shortly after being named CEO in 2007, I was asked to serve with other Butler County leaders to create a unified economic development plan for the county. While spearheaded by the Butler County Chamber of Commerce in concert with Delta Development, the ultimate goal of a unified approach never materialized.   

Thanks to the assistance of an anonymous donor, BC3 revived the previous plan and hired Fourth Economy to develop a new model. Although a new organizational structure and defined partner roles based on stakeholder engagement and best-practice research were developed, efforts again stalled.   

Enter a new board of Butler County commissioners in 2015. Each commissioner believed in the underpinnings of both studies. Better yet, Commissioners Leslie Osche, Kimberly Geyer and Kevin Boozel comprehended the need. Mark Gordon, a former steel company executive, was hired as Butler County’s chief of economic development shortly thereafter.  

With support from the commissioners and a chief of economic development in place, the Butler County Growth Collaborative was soon born. Advisory members from key organizations in the county developed a mission, vision, value statements and a strategic plan.   

The Butler County Growth Collaborative also created a national marketing campaign for our terrific county. A shout-out to Patricia Pritchard, one of our part-time instructors, and to Dr. Belinda Richardson, our vice president for academic affairs, for their roles in the production.  

Enjoy! 


An incredible journey begins

August 24, 2020

Finally, it’s here.

The fall 2020 semester and the start of a new academic year at all Butler County Community College locations.

Our main campus looks great. Sunbeams are pooling under our oak trees. The iconic BC3 Conestoga wagon is sitting outside my office window in the Administration Building. Colleagues are staffing tents along Pioneer Path for Welcome Week. Blue and white balloons are dancing in the morning breeze. Students are wearing masks as they head to classes. While student traffic to start a semester is less than “normal” here on main campus, our enrollment growth is elsewhere: BC3 @ Brockway enrollment is up 25.18 percent when compared with the beginning of the fall 2019 semester; online classes are up 22.04 percent; BC3 @ Armstrong, up 12.12 percent; BC3 @ LindenPointe, up 7.89 percent; BC3 @ Lawrence Crossing, up 1.83 percent and BC3 @ Cranberry is even.

Whether students are attending BC3 online; through blended, hybrid or remote formats; or in person at a BC3 location, one thing is certain: Our students will continue to receive the same quality, affordable and accessible education from our expert faculty members.

Remember, there is still time to register for fall classes. Our 15-week Session 1 classes are held from today through Dec. 12. Our 10-week Session 2 courses are held from Sept. 21 to Dec. 12. And, of course, five-week online Fast Track classes are held throughout the fall semester. Find out more at bc3.edu/credit-schedule.

Have a great fall semester and an incredible journey at BC3!


Dear Ms. Smith: How your alma mater has grown!

June 8, 2020

This blog post is in response to a handwritten letter the College recently received from an alumni.

Letter from Jean H. Smith, BC3 Alumnus from Kittanning, dated May 18, 2020.

Dear Ms. Smith, 

Thank you so much for the kind letter you wrote May 18, 2020. I always enjoy hearing from our 24,500 alumni. I am also pleased that you believe your educational experience at BC3 from the 1970s has served you well over the years. 

Our college has changed quite a bit since you took classes here. Our 330-acre main campus in Butler Township is still as beautiful, especially this time of year, but has far more buildings than the original four dating to our opening in 1966. A one-mile Shaffer Walking Trail now encompasses nearly all of our buildings, and will also pass by a proposed state-of-the-art Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health building planned for the south end of our main campus – not far from those original four buildings. 

You asked about our library. That, too, has changed. We opened the Heaton Family Learning Commons in 2016. Our ultramodern academic and community library was even featured in a November 2017 issue of Library Journal, the nation’s oldest magazine devoted to libraries. Martin Miller, our dean of library sciences, leads an incredible staff in the Heaton.

Yes, we have expanded quite a bit since your time at BC3. We deliver our quality, affordable and accessible education throughout northwestern Pennsylvania. Our additional locations are in Brockway in Jefferson County; Cranberry Township in Butler County; Ford City in Armstrong County; Hermitage in Mercer County; and New Castle in Lawrence County.

The Heaton Family Learning Commons even links those additional locations to our main campus through technology. We also have a thriving distance education program! 

Would you believe we serve 25,000 students annually? Not only have we received accolades for excellence in our 56 associate degree credit programs, we serve up to 20,000 individuals in noncredit continuing education, workforce development, public safety and other important trainings. 

Margo Pitts and her love of the arts and of students like you are still discussed decades after her retirement. Professor Pitts is symbolic of our excellent faculty and staff over the years. It’s one of the many reasons I just love BC3 — a place I have called home since 1999 and have served as president since 2007. 

There’s little question higher education will change as a result of COVID-19. But I am confident BC3 will continue to thrive. Our “all in” for nursing with the Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health and the Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health building could not come at a more important time. 

I am so pleased you reached out to the college with your touching letter. You are always welcome for a visit. 

Pioneer Proud!

President Neupauer


BC3 flourishes in a changing world

May 1, 2020

It’s been seven weeks since our college responded to the COVID-19 situation. We did so keeping the safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors to our BC3 locations at the forefront of our decisions.  

Since March 11, not only has the college changed, but so has the world around us. Work-from-home, remote instruction, social distancing and mitigation strategies have become regular parts of our vocabulary. An eagerness to return to normal – a new normal – is on everyone’s mind.  

Each day, I connect with statewide leaders. Safety, of course, is paramount in these discussions. But strategies to lead institutions of higher education forward are also shared, critiqued and evaluated.  

BC3 has moved to remote instruction for the summer. Our work-from-home model is still intact for the immediate future. We are exploring options for a creative 2020 Commencement. Faculty and administration are sharing ideas on how to shape the fall of 2020 for our students.  

While there are still many unknowns for the future, one constant each and every day is the fact BC3 still shines – regardless of COVID-19 constraints.   

Our Shaffer Walking Trail has never been more popular.  

Our college’s Pioneer Pantry addresses food insecurity as referenced in our strategic plan.  

Our Presidential Scholars excelled Tuesday in a virtual poster presentation.  

Our prospective students can learn more about BC3 during an upcoming Virtual Open House.

Our current students are still the beneficiaries of quality instruction from outstanding faculty.  

Our commitment to supporting our community was exemplified through a recent donation of PPE to local healthcare providers.

And our local and statewide outreach is vast with various college representatives continuing their services on boards, through volunteer efforts and in quality of life and economic development initiatives.  

I will be sure to share plans for the future of our college. In the meantime, I sincerely hope you and your family are safe and secure. I truly hope to see you soon at one of our BC3 locations!