Honoring Hard Work
Published: August 29, 2013
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It started with a phone call, followed by an incredulous reaction. A few days later, history was made.
When President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited the campus of Lackawanna College in Scranton last Friday, it marked the third time in history that a sitting president visited the Electric City to discuss policy issues.
"I wanted to visit Lackawanna College because of the great work you're doing here giving people a first-class education that doesn't cost a fortune with support in place to make sure students stay on track," Obama said.
For Benton Twp. resident and president of Lackawanna College Col. Mark Volk, those words were the confirmation that his administration, now beginning its second year, was on the right track with what it plans to achieve for the school's students.
"Us saying that we are doing a good job is one thing, but when the President of the United States says that you are doing a good job, that's a confirmation you just can't overlook," he said. "We are far from perfect, we are growing every day but we are really working hard, all of us, every day to make sure that we are providing a good quality education for our students at the most affordable level that we can and finding ways to offset those costs and to make improvements in what we are doing for our students in terms of support and in terms of the quality of the education they receive."
The President's speech focused on three major proposals he has to improve middle class accessibility to higher education; including the establishment of a federal college ranking system based on the opportunities they provide to students as well as plans to encourage innovative actions on the part of the nation's colleges to provide students with quality education at a lower cost as well as plans to cap federal student loan payments at 10 percent of their salaries (see related story on page 9).
Volk believes that Lackawanna College is a strong example for what President Obama hopes to achieve through his proposed reforms.
"For whatever reason, they chose Scranton as a stop on the tour and they were looking for a school that met the standards for the discussion that they were going to have, Volk said. "They were looking for a school that was affordable and that had good outcomes. The President's focus for the past several years has been talking about the two-year community college model as a way to improve or to provide additional workers the education they need to go into the workforce with family-sustainable jobs. We're that college."