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Pittsburgh Technical College Faces 'Imminent Closure'

A private college has been on probation with its accrediting agency since March due to leadership and finance issues. It has until June 17 to submit a plan for keeping students on a path to degrees at partner institutions.

(TNS) — Pittsburgh Technical College is "in danger of imminent closure," and lacks a clear plan for the hundreds of students who will be impacted, the school's accrediting agency said Friday.

The 75-year-old Oakdale institution was put on probation in March for failing to demonstrate sound leadership and financial stability. The Post-Gazette first reported on allegations of mismanagement by the school's president, Alicia Harvey-Smith, in October.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education said Friday that PTC leadership must demonstrate why its accreditation should not be withdrawn by June 28. The commission also found that the school's teach out plan — designed to keep nearly 1,000 students on the path to degrees at partner institutions — is "insufficient."

The school has until June 17 to submit a revised plan. The Community College of Allegheny County previously told the Post-Gazette it could receive most of PTC's students into similar programs for information technology, culinary arts and other trades.

Students staged a walkout in May to protest a lack of transparency around PTC's plans. Ms. Harvey-Smith, who denies all allegations of wrongdoing, has said repeatedly that the school plans to remain open.

She announced in an email to the community last week that nine staff and four vacant positions had been cut, a "difficult decision" that came after a spate of staff resignations and departures.

"PTC remains fully committed to providing the best educational experience possible for our students," Ms. Harvey-Smith wrote, adding: "The importance of enrollment for a non-state or county funded non-profit college is critical and must remain a high priority for each of us."

Some of those who worked in admissions told the Post-Gazette they felt uncomfortable recruiting students given the school's financial outlook.

Ms. Harvey-Smith did not respond to emailed questions Friday but said through the school's public relations firm that "amidst ongoing challenges, PTC remains focused on its students and making decisions to support the best path forward for the college."

The school "remains actively engaged" with Middle States and "continues to comply with all related requests for information," she said.

The development at PTC come the same week another Pittsburgh-based technical college, Triangle Tech, announced it was shutting down after 80 years of preparing students for industry jobs. Six campuses across Pennsylvania are impacted, but the school will still operate through June 2025 to ensure current students receive their degrees.

©2024 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.