We marched forward in February

February 24, 2021
Nick Neupauer at podium at RMU event

This shortest month of the year should long be remembered at BC3.

Our college in February joined in new partnerships with the Butler Area School District and with Robert Morris University, and received approvals that will officially turn a project 10 years in the planning into the Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health building.

Dr. Brian White, superintendent of the Butler Area School District, announced to the school board during a public meeting Feb. 22 a new Early College Pathway program that will allow Butler Area seniors to earn free, transferrable college credits at BC3 beginning this fall. 

Seniors can take funded courses in college writing and in college study skills and, while on our main campus Monday through Friday mornings, pursue elective courses at their own cost. 

The program will be funded by the Butler Area School District, and partially by the BC3 Education Foundation, Inc. Students at Butler Area Senior High can contact their school counselors for additional information.

I signed an agreement Feb. 11 with Robert Morris University that enables BC3 students to be admitted and enroll simultaneously at the four-year institution in Moon Township. 

The new RMU Gateway partnership will allow students at BC3 along with Community College of Allegheny College, Community College of Beaver County and Westmoreland County Community College, to take up to 12 credits at Robert Morris as they pursue an associate degree from their community college. RMU’s tuition for those 12 credits will match what students pay at their community college. Students who complete their associate degree can then transfer seamlessly to RMU to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

The RMU Gateway initiative will be available to our students beginning this fall. 

Our board of trustees Feb. 19 authorized the college to issue $9 million in bonds to help finance an $18 million south campus construction project whose centerpiece will be the state-of-the-art Victor K. Phillips Nursing and Allied Health building, which will help to train tomorrow’s healthcare providers. 

The bond financing will augment more than $4 million in gifts the college has received toward the building, whose construction could begin in the third quarter of this year. Within two years, a hospital-like setting will welcome BC3 and Grove City College students, along with those to be enrolled in our new licensed practical nursing program.

A short month long to be remembered at BC3 for serving our most important asset – our students.

Dr. Nick Neupauer

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.  


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