The Cambria County Commissioners voted unanimously in June 1993 to become the local sponsors for Cambria County Area Community College (CCACC). In September 1993 the State Board of Education approved the establishment of a community college in Cambria County.
In October 1993, the Commissioners approved the appointment of a 15 member Board of Trustees representing the geographic service area of the institution and including leading members of the professional community. The Board of Trustees was inducted and held its initial meeting on October 26, 1993.
By March 1994, the County Commissioners approved the Articles of Agreement with Cambria County Area Community College, and a month later the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. John O. Hunter as founding President effective June 1, 1994. The first classes were held on September 5, 1994. The College was approved as a candidate for accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association in November 1996. In 1999 Dr. Hunter retired. The Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Kathleen V. Davis as the second President of the College effective July 1, 1999. Under Dr. Davis’ leadership, the College began the accreditation process by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Dr. Davis resigned as President in December 2001. In February 2002, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. John Kingsmore as Interim President and the College began the search for its third President. In June of the same year, the College received notification that full accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools had been granted. On July 8, 2002, Dr. Anna D. Weitz began her tenure as the third President of Cambria County Area Community College.
During its first ten years of operation, the College expanded its academic offerings in liberal arts and career programs to include online courses and advanced technology offerings. In addition to providing area residents with credit courses, the College had increased non-credit, continuing education programs to meet the workforce development needs of the region. The vision of President Dr. Anna Weitz was to grow enrollment and expand outreach of the College to surrounding counties that are underserved or not served by a community college. In order to achieve this goal, the College petitioned the Department of Education to change the name of CCACC to reflect a more regional approach. The College’s name was officially changed to Pennsylvania Highlands Community College effective July 1, 2004.
In May of 2007, Dr. Weitz pursued another employment opportunity and on August 13, 2007, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Walter Asonevich as the College’s fourth President.
In January of 2008, the College moved the main campus to its current location on Community College Way in Richland. Under Dr. Asonevich, program offerings were revamped at Ebensburg, and additional locations were added in Somerset, Huntingdon, and Blair Counties, expanding the College’s reach. Penn Highlands also continued to expand and create a robust list of online academic programs.
In 2010, athletics at Penn Highlands Community College started back up with men’s basketball and women’s volleyball. The team adopted the Black Bears as its mascot and is a part of the NJCAA. Since its inaugural season, athletics has continued to grow and be successful, adding bowling, cross country, eSports, golf, and women’s softball over recent years.
Over the years, the College added new career-ready programs in the areas of Health Professions, Marketing Management, Medical Coding & Billing, Paralegal Studies, Social Service Assistant, and Sustainable Agriculture.
Penn Highlands has become an excellent way to reduce student loan debt as its liberal arts and core offerings provide for the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, while costing much less than public and private universities. And, with statewide agreements with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities, an agreement with the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and several other agreements with regional private and public colleges, the ability to use Penn Highlands credits toward completion of a four-year degree has become highly effective and efficient.
Our high school dual enrollment program, Accelerated College Education, is accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships and serves as many as 1,600 students each year in more than 50 school districts. Our Associate in High School program has produced more than 200 graduates since the program’s inception in 2011. Penn Highlands’ dual enrollment students have been able to transfer tens of thousands of college credits earned in high school toward earning college degrees at institutions as prestigious as Penn State University, Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh, and many more.
On January 6th, 2020, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Steven C. Nunez as the College’s fifth President.
Then, in April of 2021 under Dr. Nunez, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College became the official owner of its first owned property: the Richland Campus facility at 101 Community College Way in Johnstown, PA.
Beginning in August of 2021, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College will continue its commitment to academic excellence with the introduction of an Honors Program. The Honors Program will allow students to explore cultural and societal issues through new, distinct, and challenging academic programming opportunities.