Reading Area Community College
|Type||Public Community College|
|President||Anna Weitz, D.Ed.|
|Location||Reading, Penn., United States|
Reading Area Community College (RACC) is a public community college located in Reading, Pennsylvania, United States. The college was founded in 1971 and serves the greater Reading area and Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Reading Area Community College was founded on October 1, 1971, and sponsored for 20 years by the Reading School District. Classes were held for the first time on October 13, 1971, with an enrollment of 265 students. The college operated from several buildings throughout Reading during its early years until it acquired the Holiday Inn (the current Berks Hall building) in 1978. On July 1, 1991, the Berks County Board of Commissioners assumed sponsorship of the college. In 1996, the college completed a campus expansion plan that transformed it into an attractive city-based campus.
In 1963, Pennsylvania passed legislation authorizing the development of a statewide system of comprehensive community colleges. The legislation states that community colleges should be locally controlled, responsive to the educational and training needs of the areas they serve, geographically accessible to students and have low tuition. In September 1970, the Board of Directors of the Reading School District voted to act as, sponsor of a community college and authorized that an application and proposed plan for establishing and operating the new institution be submitted to the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. At its January 15, 1971 meeting, the State Board of Education approved the application permitting the Reading School District to sponsor Reading Area Community College. The sponsor appointed an eleven-member Board of Trustees whose responsibility was to bring the college into existence and supervise its administration. Classes were held for the first time on October 13, 1971, with an enrollment of 265 students.
Initially students attended classes at many locations throughout Reading. In 1977, the college purchased the former Holiday Inn at Second and Penn Street. After extensive renovations to the building, administrative offices and credit programs were moved to the present riverfront campus in the fall of 1978.
By the fall of 1988, enrolled credit students numbered 1640 and more space was needed. RACC purchased 10 acres (40,000 m2) of land between its campus and the Schuylkill River that was used primarily for parking. In June 1989, the East Shore Office Building, now named Penn Hall, was purchased to serve the growing student body that expanded to 3,231 credit students by the fall of 1994. Approximately 12,000 non-credit students are also served each year. Classes are conducted at Boyertown, Exeter, Hamburg, Muhlenberg, Reading and Wilson High Schools, the Reading-Muhlenberg Vocational Technical School in Berks County and at several other community sites.
As the college grew, the resources of a single sponsoring school district became inadequate to sustain the required expansion. The majority of students lived in Berks County, outside of the Reading School District. The Berks County Board of Commissioners took the initiative to study the need for a broader base of financial support for RACC. In February 1990, the commissioners appointed a fifteen-member Citizen Task Force to study the sponsorship issue. In their report presented to the commissioners on September 13, 1990, they stated, “The current situation, where one school district acts as sponsor, is unique in Pennsylvania, is contrary to economic development trends over the life span of the community college, and is clearly untenable in today’s economic climate.” In conclusion, they stated “there is a compelling case for sole sponsorship (of the college) by the county government and the required financial commitment by the county would be reasonable, cost effective and not overly burdensome to the taxpayers.” At the October 4, 1990 meeting of the Berks County Board of Commissioners, they voted unanimously to sponsor Reading Area Community College effective July 1, 1991.
In 1992, Reading Area Community College launched its first capital campaign to secure private funds for a new library. The campaign goal of $1,750,000 was exceeded and $2,739,000 was raised for the project. Those gifts enabled the college to go beyond the original basic facility and include additional educational equipment and laboratories. With the matching funds provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a $7.54 million library was constructed.
The Yocum Library, overlooking the Schuylkill River, opened in March 1996. It includes conference rooms and a humanities center. This distinctive addition to the Reading skyline serves as the landmark building that marks the gateway to the city.
As of 2015, RACC was voted with the best FOLLETT bookstore in the nation.
Flood of 2006
On Wednesday, June 28, 2006, after an extremely dry late winter and early spring, heavy rains struck eastern Pennsylvania in May and June 2006, eventually culminating in what is now known as the Flood of 2006. Heavy rains deluged the area causing the Ontelaunee and Blue Marsh reservoirs to fill beyond capacity and begin to overflow. Fearing the dams would give way, the Reading Water Authority opened the sluice gates to relieve the pressure on the dams. In a matter of minutes the Schuylkill River transformed from a quiet, slow-moving stream into a raging torrent. The river crested at a record 33 feet (10 m), inundating the low-lying southern half of Reading.
Bearing the brunt of the water was RACC, which is situated on the Schuylkill's east shore. Every campus building south of the Penn Street bridge were under 10 - 12 feet (3.7 m) of water, causing millions of dollars of damage to buildings, cars, and equipment that couldn't be moved before the waters hit. The campus remained closed for several weeks afterward while the area dried out and damage was repaired. The campus eventually re-opened in mid-July, although it was several months before some buildings were repaired and reopened.
- As of June 30, 2011. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2011 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2010 to FY 2011" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers. January 17, 2012. p. 22. Retrieved February 9, 2012.