SCRANTON — The announcement that Luzerne County Community College is opening an education center at the Mall at Steamtown came as welcome news to Amanda Ruffin of Simpson.
Ruffin, 25, is a sophomore majoring in hospitality business management at LCCC in Nanticoke. When the new site opens in downtown Scranton, Ruffin will save time and money by not having to drive 45 minutes to the Nanticoke main campus.
“This will be much closer for me and a lot of other LCCC students,” Ruffin said. “This location is perfect.”
LCCC President Tom Leary said it took two years to seal the deal and on Wednesday, it became official.
“Today, Luzerne County Community College becomes the community college of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Leary said in announcing LCCC’s initiative to open the satellite education center in the Mall at Steamtown in downtown Scranton.
Leary said the new center will open in the fall with 14 academic programs to be offered in the second level space once occupied by the Bon-Ton Department Store. Leary said establishment of the Scranton center will not cost Luzerne County taxpayers any additional money.
Leary said LCCC will offer an “affordable, accessible and quality college education” to anyone who has the desire to advance their learning and careers.
“To meet that need, Luzerne County Community College has opened dedicated centers throughout our coverage area of Northeastern Pennsylvania to make it convenient for students to attend classes,” Leary said.
Leary points out that many students are unable to attend college classes due to limited access to transportation and the increasing cost of college tuition.
“Community colleges, like Luzerne County Community College, are designed to offer low tuition costs, high demand academic degree choices, open admissions, and close locations to remove many of the obstacles that may keep someone from earning a college degree,” Leary said.
Leary said LCCC chose The Mall at Steamtown as its newest dedicated center to enhance service to the Lackawanna County and surrounding area residents. He said there currently are 350 Lackawanna County residents enrolled at LCCC. He said the Scranton location is close to public transportation and available of parking.
“We are very impressed with the re-growth and future of The Mall at Steamtown and the Lackawanna region,” Leary said. “The space here is convenient for our student population and allows us to expand as needed.”
Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright was on hand to welcome the downtown’s newest educational resident.
“It’s great to be able to offer another educational opportunity here in Scranton,” Courtright said. “We have several quality colleges and universities in Scranton and LCCC offers another option.”
Courtright said LCCC’s presence in the mall will also enhance the mall’s retail activity. He said the mall has been coming back under its new ownership.
John Basalyga, owner of the Mall at Steamtown, said LCCC locating in the mall demonstrates the diversity of use that he believes is essential to the mall’s success.
“Colleges are a driving force in the renewal of downtown Scranton,” Basalyga said. “LCCC joins that distinguished tradition in a non-traditional way. Its students and faculty will add more life and traffic to the city.”
Classes at the LCCC Scranton Center will begin for the fall semester on Aug. 29, offering degree programs in business, accounting, human services, social science, social work, psychology, criminal justice, electrical construction, medical reimbursement and coding, medical office specialist, medical scribe and general studies.
A temporary recruitment office on the first floor of the Mall will be open to the public several days during the week until full renovation of the center space is completed. LCCC admissions staff will be available to meet with potential students and provide information on academic programs, classes, financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The Scranton Center will offer the full range of services to students including tutoring, accessibility services and advising to ensure student success. In addition, Leary said the Scranton center will offer full accelerated degree options.
Tuition for LCCC’s Scranton Center will be $240 per credit for Lackawanna County residents which equates to approximately $9,000 a year for a full-time student.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.