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WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Lackawanna College’s School

of Petroleum & Natural Gas: A Leader in Workforce Development By Mark Volk, President, Lackawanna College

Northeastern Pennsylvania has a proud tradition of rugged individuals making a living off the land. The urban areas historically were the center of the “Anthracite Coal Region;” the more rural spaces

were home to bucolic family farms. As time went on, manufactur- ing replaced coal and supplemented farm revenues as the primary source of family income. Over the past decades, though, we’ve seen our manufacturing capability slowly moved “off shore,” leav- ing a significant gap for wage earners.

Lackawanna College was founded during the Anthracite boom of the late 1800s to help meet the needs of the workplace and to give young (and not so young) people an opportunity at making a better life. That original mission remains today and can easily be seen in our curricular offerings. No better place is that mission exemplified than in the College’s School of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

Seven years ago, Lackawanna was asked by the commissioners of Susquehanna County (30 miles north of Scranton) to consider locating a center there to provide higher education opportunities for their residents. Frankly, the college struggled to document degree paths that would, back then, lead to sustainable wage positions in the numbers that would justify the investment.

Just as the college’s administration was finishing its research, in- formation began to surface about the impact of Marcellus Shale field play. Never shy to step in a new direction, to seize an op- portunity or to take a chance, Lackawanna began planning a new academic center focused around a degree in the petroleum and natural gas industry.

In five short years, that dream has become a reality; the center has grown from a fledgling unknown to a recognized leader in the edu- cation and training of employees to support this rapidly expanding industry. The college recognized, from the beginning, that indus- try support—from advice on curriculum to internships and equip- ment—was crucial to our ability to ensure we were providing the very best, most up-to-date education possible.

Recently, Lackawanna College and Cabot Oil & Gas

Corporation announced a unique collaboration that not only supports the College’s programs and students but also serves as an investment in regional communities, providing opportunities for local men and women to access employment in jobs at wage levels never imagined for our area.


Marcellus Quarterly 2014

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