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Pittsburgh Technical College hosts final commencement ceremony before August shutdown

Pittsburgh Technical College hosts final commencement ceremony before August shutdown
Pittsburgh Technical College hosts final commencement ceremony before August shutdown 02:55

OAKDALE, Pa. (KDKA) -- The Pittsburgh Technical College celebrated its final commencement ceremony on Saturday. The nearly 80-year-old Oakdale institution announced just weeks ago that it would close for good.

Pittsburgh Technical graduate Ryan Leichty told KDKA-TV that he's most worried about his friends who haven't graduated yet and all the instructors who are suddenly out of a job.

Leichty just got a welding degree. He says there are a lot of jobs open for things like welding.

Now, he says, one of the best places locally to learn those skills, and many others, is closing for good.

A college graduation is supposed to be about celebrating, but for the many students who graduated on Saturday from Pittsburgh Technical College, those feelings are complicated.

"I don't know; it's kind of bittersweet. It was nice graduating and everything," Leichty said.

A cloud was hanging over the ceremony.

"I think this commencement is made even more special because it is our last," president Alicia B. Harvey-Smith said.

The school says they are shutting down due to declining enrollment and financial challenges.

"It is a shame seeing the school was so badly managed," Leichty said.

Instead of walking across the stage thinking about his accomplishments, Leichty says he was thinking about how poor the ceremony was.

"It felt like a backyard BBQ of a graduation ceremony, in my opinion. Like, it was very pieced together," Leichty added.

On this hot day, he noted how graduates sat in the sun, while only the stage was covered. He says the loss of the school is a loss for a region rich with an industrial history.

"Instead of going to a four-year college where you're paying $100,000 in student loans, someone like me, I went, I learned welding for a quarter of the cost, and I got a job right out of school," Leichty added.

In her remarks, the school's president told students that as leaders there are many things graduates will face that won't be pleasant.

"There are many things that will be said about you, and those things will not be true. In closing, today, yes it is bittersweet, but because of you, PTC will live on forever."

Leichty wants to think about his accomplishments, but it's tough.

"The bitterness is really a large part of this day. I don't know. It didn't have to be this way if they had managed their money better, not lost all their money, and shut the school down."

The school said they have attempted to raise revenue or merge, but all those attempts failed.

The official last day is set for Aug. 9, 2024.

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