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Dr. Lenaire Ahlum

SUNBURY — Seven areas of study are expected at a new community college when it debuts in 2024, according to Susquehanna Valley Community Education Project (SVCEP) Executive Director Dr. Lenaire Ahlum.

Ahlum joined The Daily Item in a One on One discussion Thursday to discuss the next steps of the education project. SVCEP announced last month a partnership with Marywood University, of Scranton, that would allow accreditation on day one. Marywood, a private university based in Scranton, was founded in 1915 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“We are at a point where we have already mapped those out,” said Ahlum of the areas of study. “Those are now being reviewed by the provost and associate provosts at Marywood University. They have to go through the process of getting approval by their board to oversee that programing with us.”

Life sciences, agriculture, liberal arts, biology, engineering, nursing and business will be available associate degrees for an expected 3,000 students once the college is established, she said.

“That is based on predictability formulas through American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and AACC trustees, aggregate data that takes our demographic and our profile and then can work the figures and see exactly what we can anticipate for our region,” said Ahlum. “For sure by year 10 we would have 3,000 students enrolled.”

The goal is to establish the college in Sunbury by 2024.

The SVCEP recently announced that Economic Modeling Specialists International (Emsi), the leader in labor market and higher education analyses, conducted a study of the first 10 years of the community college and concluded that a new regional community college serving Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties and adjacent areas will bring conservatively $78.5 million in new economic activity to the Valley.

It would require a $1.2 million annual investment from Northumberland, Union, Montour and Snyder counties. Northumberland would be asked to provide $624,000, Union would be asked $240,000, Snyder would be $228,000 and Montour would be $108,000, according to a study commissioned by SVCEP.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, the group would seek sponsorship from counties with a goal to seek a state application in 2022-23. By 2023-24, the goal is to have a president hired, a board of trustees appointed, administration, faculty and staff in place and programming and instruction started.

The full interview can be found on or

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