By Keith Gushard
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is changing the way it offers its higher education and job-training programs in Crawford County.
The university is closing its physical presence in downtown Meadville and instead will offer its programs in the workplace, online or at locations within the area.
Letters outlining a new “university without walls” approach have been sent to community and business leaders by Julie E. Wollman, Edinboro University’s president. It will provide high-quality, affordable training custom-designed to fit employers’ needs, schedule and choice of location, according to Wollman.
“Making the community our classroom enables us to achieve the flexibility required to best meet the workforce needs of the community,” Wollman said in a statement issued Thursday. “It is a flexible, tailored way to affordably enhance workers’ skills and support their success as well as the success of area employers.”
Throughout its history, Edinboro University has adapted its programming and delivery to meet the evolving needs of the region, Wollman said.
“The latest stage of our evolution together enhances education and training by freeing it from the restraints of designated classroom space in a single location,” Wollman said in her letter.
Because of the new approach, Edinboro won’t need its two classrooms covering 3,600 square feet of space at Kepler Commons at 890 Market St., Meadville — the Joseph T. Buba Center. But area students can fulfill general education and some major program requirements through Edinboro University’s online course offerings. Edinboro also will continue to offer free bus transportation between Meadville and Edinboro for students who prefer learning in traditional classrooms.
“They’ve not been fully utilized,” Jeffrey Hileman, director of communications for Edinboro University, said of the decision to close the Meadville classroom space. “It will be effective in the fall.”
Edinboro University has offered classes in Meadville since 2000, first in the Downtown Mall, and then in the Bessemer Street Complex from 2001 to 2011. Classes temporarily moved to Parkside Commons in January 2012 when the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County did not bid to renew the university’s lease at Bessemer Street. The university had sought proposals to lease less space for its Meadville operations. It then moved to the Kepler Commons location in January 2013.
While there will no longer be a physical Edinboro presence in Meadville, Nathan Ritchey, dean of Edinboro’s College of Science and Health Professions, and Beth Zewe, coordinator of non-credit programs, will continue to work directly with the university’s partners in the greater Meadville area to create custom ways to support both students and regional businesses, according to Wollman’s letter. Edinboro University has relationships with the Precision Manufacturing Institute, National Tooling & Machining Association, Crawford County Career & Technical Center, and numerous individual businesses within the area.
“We at Edinboro University look forward to maintaining a strong and expanding role in the growth of the economy of Crawford County in close collaboration with our partners,” Wollman said.
Businesses interested in discussing their job-training needs and exploring options for custom-designed educational programs may contact Beth Zewe, Edinboro University’s coordinator of non-credit programs, at (814) 732-1420.