Community College of Allegheny Plans to Upgrade Science Capabilities

Article excerpt

A national leader in graduating nurses, the Community College of Allegheny County plans to upgrade its science and technology capabilities by building a $20 million facility expected to be completed by 2011.

"CCAC has a very long and distinguished record of educating health-care professionals," Thomas J. Santone, the school's board chairman, said during the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday for the K. Leroy Irvis Science Center.

"CCAC has been a national leader in that area and this new building will help continue that tradition," Santone said about the planned five-floor, 65,000-square-foot facility in the North Side.

According to the June edition of Community College Week Magazine, CCAC is the fourth-largest provider of nursing associate's degrees in the nation among all institutions -- and second among two-year institutions.

The project is particularly encouraging because it occurs as America lags behind other countries in science and technology education, said John Pollock, a Duquesne University biology professor.

A 2003 study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co- operation and Development ranked 15-year-old students in the United States 30th in the world in problem solving.

Investment in science and technology education is crucial for other reasons, including health literacy, Pollock said.

"No one knows how to talk to doctors," he said. "And a lot of times people don't understand what their doctors are telling them."

Inadequate health literacy costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $30 billion to $73 billion annually, according to a 1998 study done by the National Academy on an Aging Society.

A combination of county and state money is funding construction of the building on Ridge Avenue, said college President Alex Johnson. …