Spotlight On: Nick Neupauer, President, Butler County Community College

Spotlight On: Nick Neupauer, President, Butler County Community College

2021-10-15T15:19:40+00:00October 15th, 2021|Education, Pittsburgh, Spotlight On|

2 min read October 2021 — In an interview with Invest:, Butler County Community College President Nick Neupauer talked about the importance of higher education and how the college is benefiting the community beyond education. He also explained his views on the future of higher education and the greatest challenges it is facing. 

What differentiates Butler County?

Butler County Community College is in a growing county. Things are running on all cylinders in Butler County. We have a thriving health care system, an excellent local radio network and a tremendous local newspaper, and foresighted county leaders. We have great public education at all levels. Our residents are fortunate that Butler County is one of only three counties in Pennsylvania to have a state university and a community college. And we’re proud to serve as the community’s college.

How would you describe the importance of Butler County Community College to the region?

We’ve been ranked as the No. 1 community college not only in the region, but in Pennsylvania for a sixth time since 2015. This year’s ranking came from We generated nearly $148 million in added income to Butler County’s economy in a recent study.  

Our return on investment for students has been validated by the Pittsburgh Business Times twice in recent years as being the greatest in western Pennsylvania and in parts of adjoining states. One of the reasons is our affordable tuition. About 70% to 80% of our students graduate debt-free in any given year, and our student-loan default rate is the lowest among Pennsylvania community colleges. 

There is a strong impact to graduating, then starting your career free of debt or with little debt. You can buy that house or that car. You can invest in your community. That’s what we can offer.

What are the greatest challenges facing higher education?

COVID-19, for one. But it has proved to be an opportunity for our college to come together. The fabric of an organization, for better or for worse, will be transparent during times of crisis. In our case, it brought us closer together. An enrollment decline is another challenge. We all face having fewer students as a result of COVID-19, lower birth rates and dwindling high school graduation numbers. That all adds up to competition for a smaller pool of students, which is significantly impacting higher education.

I heard a futurist at a conference this summer say that in 10 years there will be half the number of colleges and universities in our country that there are today as a result of enrollment declines. Here in Pennsylvania, six universities are merging into two. In other states, institutions are closing.

It will be interesting to see what this will mean for the future of higher education once we move beyond the pandemic. 

In what ways do you hope to see higher education evolve?

For Butler County Community College in particular, we need to continue to be the center of our community. We need to keep offering affordable associate degrees that lead to bachelor’s degrees or to direct entry to the workforce. We’ve evolved to offer an important program that is helping to combat the opiate problems rampant in Butler County and elsewhere. That’s part of our focus on creating better community health and wellness.  

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