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Our most memorable stories of 2016.

Without a doubt, 2016 was truly a remarkable year at Keystone College. As an academic institution and as a close-knit college community, Keystone continued to grow and prosper in so many ways. Through it all, we remained true to the ever-present Keystone spirit — a positive, never-say-die attitude as we aspire to accomplish lofty goals for ourselves, our communities,  and the world.

The Incredible Journey of the 2016 Keystone College Baseball Team

The 2016 baseball season started a little slow, at least according to the team’s traditionally high standards. But it ended on a really high note. After capturing their eight consecutive Colonial States Athletics Conference (CSAC) championship in May, the Giants went on to make Keystone history by advancing to the NCAA Division III championship series in Appleton, Wisc. While they fell to a great Trinity College squad in the finals, the Giants finished second in the entire nation, sporting an amazing a 40-11 record.

Two Keystone players, Feliz Baez and Jesse Arnold, advanced their baseball careers following graduation by signing professional contracts.

Coach Jamie Shevchik was honored as the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year and earned his fifth CSAC coach of the Year Award.

Keystone College Launches the Keystone Commitment

In September, Keystone announced an innovative program that will enable students to pursue the careers of their choice without the constant worry of long-term debt. The Keystone Commitment Loan Repayment Assistance Program is a pledge to all first-time, full-time freshmen students pursuing baccalaureate degrees beginning in the fall of 2017. The program will be provided free of charge to all incoming students and include all majors. Under the program, Keystone graduates working at least 30 hours per week and earning less than $40,000 per year will receive loan repayment assistance based on their annual income. The Keystone program, the only one of its kind in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is offered in conjunction with the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Association, based in Bloomington, Ind. (www.lrap.org).

Collegiate Wrestling Returns to Keystone

Keystone College returned to its proud athletic roots by reintroducing wrestling as its newest intercollegiate sport. From the 1960s through the 1980s, Keystone was known for being one of the best small college wrestling programs in the nation. Known at the time as Keystone Junior College, the program produced some of the top wrestlers in the country under legendary head coach the late Larry Fornicola.

Under the direction of new coach Steve Mytych, the team began competition in November as an independent in NCAA Division III. Wrestling is Keystone’s 20th varsity sport.

3-D Print Center Celebrates Grand Opening

Keystone College hosted a symposium in October on advances in 3-D technology followed by the grand opening of its 3-D Printing Center. The morning event featured several keynote speakers who are recognized experts in the educational uses of 3-D printing and the opportunities created by the emergence of this new technology. After the symposium, participants gathered for a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by tours and demonstrations of 3-D technology.

The creation of the new 3-D Printing Center at Keystone was been made possible by a $290,850 grant funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development as well as grants from Lackawanna County and the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation. The Center will serve as vital regional resource to provide support and training for individuals and companies.

Keystone Veterans Center Receives Grant for Improvements

Keystone College’s Elmer R. Hawk ’48 Center for Veterans received a much needed facelift thanks to a generous grant from the Student Veterans of America and The Home Depot Foundation. The Center received a $10,000 grant from the two organizations for a variety of improvements, including interior remodeling, improved fixtures, new flooring, and enhanced handicapped accessibility. The college community celebrated the improvements at a re-dedication ceremony on Veterans’ Day.

Nightshade Press Returns and Keystone College Press is Launched

The beginning of the 2016-17 academic year signaled a new era of academic and literary scholarship at Keystone College. The College officially re-introduced Nightshade Press, a publisher of literary works, which had operated at Keystone before taking a temporary hiatus in 2010. Keystone also launched Keystone College Press to publish scholarly works by members of Keystone’s faculty as well as faculty members at other regional colleges and universities.

Keystone celebrated both presses with a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony in September at Koelsch House followed by a reception in Evans Hall. The evening was highlighted with a reading by young-adult author and poet Gail Carson Levine and several contributors to Down the Doghole, an anthology of 11 Northeastern Pennsylvania poets, released by Nightshade Press the same night.

Keystone Campus and Professor Jeff Brauer Receive Community Award

Residents of the Abington area once again demonstrated their love for the natural beauty of Keystone’s campus and expressed their appreciation for the expertise and dedication of the Keystone College faculty.

Readers of the Abington Journal, a weekly community paper in nearby Clarks Summit, Pa.,  selected Keystone College and Political Science Professor Jeff Brauer as winners in the annual “Best of the Abingtons” contest. For the ninth consecutive year, Keystone was named as the “Best College Campus” in the yearly awards contest. Professor Brauer was voted “Best College Professor” by the paper’s readers for the fourth time.

Keystone Again Recognized in National Publications

For the 10th consecutive year, Keystone College was named one of the nation’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report and the college’s new ranking increased significantly from the 2015 report. Keystone finished in the top tier, tied for 29th overall, in the “Regional Colleges/North” category in the magazine’s annual “Best Colleges” edition. This year’s position represents a significant jump from last year’s ranking of 44th.

In addition to the U.S. News & World Report rankings, Keystone has also achieved national prominence in several other publications. The college has been ranked as one of the nation’s top schools for commitment to the environment by The Princeton Review and Sierra Magazine and as one of the best schools in the nation for soldiers and veterans by G.I. Jobs magazine and Advanced Military Education. Keystone’s online accounting program has also recently been listed as one of the best in the nation from Online-Accounting-Degrees.Net and Affordable Colleges Online. Keystone has also been listed in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Undergraduate Research Ceremony Highlights Students’ Best Work

Keystone College students again presented their best academic work during the college’s Spring Undergraduate Research and Creativity Celebration in April. The undergraduate research forum featured more than 135 exhibits highlighting year-long faculty-mentored research projects, creative works, and senior capstone projects.

The projects, representing all of the college’s academic schools, featured key research in science, technology, art, business, communications, and education. Research projects were coordinated by the Office of Undergraduate Research, which assists Keystone students and faculty by awarding college-supported grants to help in the completion of research projects.

Commencement Brings the Academic Year to an Emotional Conclusion

Keystone College celebrated its 145th commencement in May during ceremonies at the Pavilion at Montage, Scranton. Master’s degrees were also conferred for the first time in college history. Keystone graduate Thomas G. Speicher ’72 provided the keynote address.

Following the ceremony, graduated celebrated with cheers and plenty of hugs with family and friends. Another great academic year came to a close as members of the Class of 2016 began the next chapters of their lives as proud Keystone graduates.