Op-ed: Johnson College Looks to the Future While Honoring its Past

As industry changes and evolves to meet future needs, so does Johnson College. This year, northeastern Pennsylvania’s only two-year, hands-on, technical college will look to the future as our campus prepares for significant improvements that will change the landscape of North Scranton. The College is preparing to construct a new building to replace Richmond Hall. As our plans move forward it is important to recognize Richmond Hall’s significance in our history.

The William H. Richmond estate, which included a part of Richmond Hall, was donated more than 100 years ago to create Orlando S. Johnson’s dream of establishing and maintaining a trade school, where young people can be taught useful arts and trades that enable them to make an honorable living and become contributing members of society. While students and alumni didn’t spend as much time in Richmond Hall as they did within the walls of their academic program buildings, it was the first building they walked by or drove past when they arrived on campus. In turn, it became a symbol as the gateway to their future careers.  

Since Richmond Hall was first utilized by staff and students in 1912, the mission of Johnson College has remained unwavering. We provide real-world hands-on learning in a caring environment that prepares graduates to enter into or advance their careers. We partner with industry to ensure that students get the education and skills needed for in-demand, essential careers.

At Johnson College, we play an important role in the higher education space, filling a critical niche with career-focused, technical education. We balance industry’s immediate need with where it’s headed.  Students learn skills they can apply at their current job and at jobs that have yet to be created. The quality and type of education  that Johnson College provides works, as evidenced by our graduate’s high placement rate and constant employer contact asking for more skilled graduates to fill their positions. At Johnson College, we are innovating to educate our students fast enough to meet employer demands, without ever sacrificing the quality of education for which we are known.

From our humble beginnings as a finishing institute offering only three courses of study, Johnson College has grown to become a two-year, accredited, non-profit college providing the best technicians and technologists to the region. Beyond academics, the College has been ranked number one for immediate return on a graduate’s investment for education among local institutions based on a 10-year return in a recent Georgetown University study; was ranked number 10 on Forbes’ Top 25 Two-Year Trade Schools in 2018; and our graduates earned pass rates above 94% on national level exams. Johnson College students are introduced to industry when they walk on campus for their first class or lab, and a majority of them start their career in their field before they walk across the stage at commencement.

As we continue to grow, our campus will change. Preparation for the new space that will replace Richmond Hall will begin soon and construction of the new building is scheduled to start later this year. To honor the original building’s legacy, parts of Richmond Hall will be repurposed throughout campus.

While the structure that is Richmond Hall will no longer stand, the symbol of Johnson College’s gateway to the future will remain. This new building will celebrate the intersection between higher education and industry; carry Orlando S. Johnson’s legacy forward; and be a space where prospective students will begin with the end in mind: their future career. It will offer classroom and lab spaces where students will get to see and use equipment they will utilize out in the workforce, meeting space that will be used by the college community and industry partners, and student-facing offices such as academics, enrollment, and financial aid. Employer and industry partners will be featured throughout.

Today, Johnson College is much different than it was in 1912. We stick to our roots, even as we evolve and grow. As President and CEO, I am extremely proud of our past, and I am excited that Johnson College graduates continue to be an essential asset to Northeastern Pennsylvania’s industries. 

With so much uncertainty in the world, Johnson College remains a constant.  We will always work to produce the skilled technicians needed for the workforce. Richmond Hall will be missed, but our commitment to our region remains strong. This is what will pave the way for the next 100 years, and beyond.  

This is a guest op-ed written by Katie Leonard, Ed.D., President & CEO of Johnson College that was submitted to local newspapers the last week of January 2021.

Tech Talk with Johnson College Podcast – Episode 6 Now Available

Tech Talk with Johnson College Podcast Episode 6, “Skilled Technicians are In-Demand” is now available. In this episode Dr. Katie Leonard talks with Darryl Jayne, General Manager at Gibbons Ford in Dickson City, PA. Dr. Leonard and Mr. Jayne share industry stories of the auto industry and in-demand skilled technicians who have come through Johnson College. You might not think about the importance of strong communication skills and the mastering of emotional soft skills. These traits are valued by all employers and surprisingly useful in the auto-industry.

To listen to all of the Tech Talk with Johnson College Podcast episodes and learn more visit https://johnsoncollegepodcast.com/. The podcasts are also available on iTunes and Spotify.

Darryl Jayne has been with Gibbons Ford for the last 8 years. He started in the industry 42 years ago selling automobiles. He was drawn to the business and knew right away that it would be a forever career. Jayne has been with the same company for the duration of his career, minus one month at the beginning and five years in the middle.

Jayne says the past eight plus years in the role of General Manager have been very rewarding and diversified. He was the primary contact on the building of Gibbons Ford’s new 5 million dollar facility and orchestrated the move of their team, product and processes. Over the recent years, he’s had been very fortunate to have collected and employed some of the finest team members in the automotive industry. This has propelled Gibbons Ford to becoming one of the largest Ford dealers in the state, on track to achieve 100 million in sales by the end of 2020.

Per Jayne, the reason for Gibbons Ford’s success has always been our employees and their efforts. Jayne is called to find the right people to do that and he truthfully believes that it’s his my biggest asset. Most of Gibbons Ford’s success is because their owner supported, encouraged and gave their employees the opportunity to grow.

Jayne is a Norte Dame fan who was born and raised in the valley and a proud graduate of Valley View High School in Archbald, PA. He enjoys golfing with his wife Suzy, who he’s been married to for 15 years. Jayne serves on the board at one of the local golf clubs, which despite many challenges has been very rewarding. He is also the primary care giver for his 95-year-old mother who still bakes and makes homemade jellies and jams.

Cody Fisher Receives Work Ethic Scholarship from the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation

Cody Fisher from Mountain Top, Pennsylvania received a 2020 Work Ethic Scholarship from the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation. The $5,500 scholarship gives Cody the opportunity to focus on his hands-on education in the Carpentry & Cabinetmaking Technology Program.

Cody is a Crestwood High School graduate. He found out about the Work Ethic Scholarship after receiving a link to the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation website. Cody knew he had to apply after he read the Foundation’s belief that skilled labor is the back bone of this country and how working hard and having passion in what you do are keys to successful careers.

“I was thrilled when I received the scholarship” said Cody. “It allows me to fully concentrate on my education at Johnson College so I can get out into the workforce sooner without having to worry as much about my college loans.” Cody continued, “Once I visited the Johnson College campus, met the faculty, and leaned about all the courses and hands-on labs, I knew it’s where I wanted to learn my trade. Plus, I’d be going to one of the top trade schools in the nation.”

“During Cody’s journey toward the 2020 Work Ethic Scholarship he displayed Guts, Grit, and Glory, values we share and hold dear at Johnson College,” said Dr. Katie Leonard, president and CEO of Johnson College. “When the opportunity presented itself, he rose to meet it; when there were challenges, he persevered; in the end, his hard work was rewarded by the Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation.”

The Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation’s Work Ethic Scholarship Program recognizes people who understand the importance of personal responsibility, delayed gratification, a positive attitude, and, of course, work ethic. The hardworking men and women who keep the lights on, water running, and air flowing—the next generation of skilled workers who will work smart and hard. These are the folks they consider rock stars, and we want to reward them. Learn more about the Mike Rowe Works Foundation at https://www.mikeroweworks.org/.

2020-2021 Enrollment Largest in the College’s History

Johnson College’s 2020-21 total enrollment, 497, is the largest enrollment number in its 108-year history. The College increased its enrollment by 5% from last year, which was also a record-setting year, with over 252 incoming freshmen and 228 students returning for their second consecutive year. In addition, 17 high school students from Abington Heights, Forest City, Honesdale, Lakeland, Old Forge, and Riverside are enrolled in Johnson College’s Dual Enrollment and Industry Fast Track programs held on campus.

This year, 27% of the incoming freshman class transferred in from another institution making Johnson College a destination for students.. Also, the College launched and welcomed its first class into its Associate Degree program for Heavy Equipment Technology.

“As our record enrollment shows, incoming freshman found what they were looking for in the flexibility of our online classes and the opportunities provided by our hands-on labs,” said Bill Burke, Johnson College’s Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs. “The hybrid model we’re offering, along with smaller class sizes, labs at industry partner locations and the potential to complete their education in 2 years or less, give our students the opportunity to be well prepared to enter the essential workforce sooner.”

Johnson College will continue to follow its hybrid model throughout the 2020-21 school year. General education and program theory classes will be delivered online while labs and lab-related coursework will be in-person. Through this model, the College is prioritizing student safety while offering increased flexibility when it comes to the hands-on learning required to enter the workforce. Social distancing and mask guidelines will be followed on campus and at industry lab locations.

Johnson College provides real-world, hands-on learning in a caring environment and prepares graduates to enter into or advance in their careers. Our degrees become essential careers. Johnson College was founded in 1912, and is the region’s premier technical college, offering associate degrees in 15 programs. An emphasis on hands-on instruction is supported by a low student-to-teacher ratio. Located in Scranton on a 44-acre campus, Johnson is an accredited, private, non-profit, co-educational institution with a strong tradition of working with regional business and industry to ensure a skilled and qualified workforce. For additional information on Johnson College, please call 1-800-2-WE-WORK, email enroll@johnson.edu, or visit Johnson.edu.

Johnson College Masks Now Available

Johnson College branded masks are now available!! Each mask is $20 with proceeds benefiting the College’s Student Emergency Fund. Visit https://shop.shopnunzis.com/jcmasks/shop/home to purchase your masks today!

The Johnson College Student Emergency Fund helps students if they have an unforeseeable expense related to their schooling, such as the loss of job due to COVID-19, loss of family member who was supporting them, etc. This fund is supported through contributions from members of our Johnson College Community like you. Thank you for supporting our students.

The Johnson College masks have adjustable ear loops and a metal piece on the nose for a comfortable fit.

New Board Members and Officers for 2020-2021

Johnson College announces that four new members have recently joined the Board of Directors and new officers have been elected. New board members include Ashley H. Bechaver, Candy J. Frye ’94, Steve M. Pierson ’06, and Stephen E. Midura. New officers include Marianne Gilmartin, Esq., Chair; Christopher J. Haran, Vice Chair; and J. Patrick Dietz, Treasurer.

Ms. Ashley H. Bechaver is in Human Resources/IT at Gibbons Ford in Dickson City. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications, Legal, Institutions, Economics, and Government from American University. Ms. Bechaver has served on the Automotive Program Advisory Committee at Johnson College, Lackawanna Career Technology Center, and West Side Technology Center. She resides in Throop.

Mrs. Candy J. Frye is Director of New Business Development at A. Pickett Construction, Inc. in Kingston. Frye is a 1993 graduate of the building construction technology and 1994 graduate of the architectural drafting and design associate degree programs at Johnson College. She resides in Harding.

Mr. Steve M. Pierson is the Service Manager at Five Star International Trucks, LLC. In Allentown. Pierson is a 2006 graduate of the diesel truck technology program at Johnson College. He resides in Sellersville.

Mr. Stephen Midura is the Market Director at Johnson Controls in Wilkes-Barre. Midura holds a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering/business administration from Penn State and a MBA from Marywood. He resides in Scott Township.

Atty. Marianne Gilmartin is the new chair of the board. She joined the Johnson College board of directors in 2014. Atty. Gilmartin has served on the Executive Committee, Governance Committee, Human Resources Committee, and Board Committee Restructuring Taskforce. She was the Chair of the Academic Achievement & Student Engagement Committee in 2017-18. Atty. Gilmartin has brought her skills as an attorney and as a leader in the community to her work on the board. She is an attorney and shareholder at Stevens & Lee and holds a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall University. She resides in Moscow.

Mr. Christopher J. Haran is the new Vice Chair of the board. He joined the Johnson College board of directors in 2012. Mr. Haran has been instrumental in serving on the Governance Committee, most notably his work with board assessment initiatives. He holds a Master of Science degree in Management Science from Stony Brook University. Mr. Haran works professionally as a consultant and adjunct professor. He resides in Moscow.

Mr. J. Patrick Dietz is the new Treasurer of the board and brings the knowledge of his longtime career in banking to that position. He joined the Johnson College board in 2017 and is also a member of the Audit, Operational Excellence, and Governance Committees. Mr. Dietz is also the Chairman of the Salvation Army of Scranton Advisory Board. He obtained his MBA from Marywood University and is a Senior Vice President / Commercial Loan Officer at Peoples Security Bank and Trust Company. Mr. Dietz resides in South Abington Township with his wife Christine.

To see a complete listing the 2020-2021 Board of Directors visit https://johnson.edu/about/office-of-the-president/board-of-directors/.