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Regional Learning Alliance Executive Director, Dr. Justin Griffith, Featured in Butler Eagle Newspaper

April 13, 2011

On Wednesday, March 30, 2011, the Regional Learning Alliance's Executive Director, Dr. Justin Griffith, was featured in the focus section of the Butler Eagle Newspaper.  The article is part of Silhouettes, a series spotlighting Butler County residents.  Griffith was honored with a half-page write-up about his experience at the RLA. See full article text below.


Leading the Pack

Learning Alliance officer proud to watch facility grow, prosper

By Bob Shultz
Eagle Staff Writer


MARSHALL TWP, Allegheny County – For Regional Learning Alliance leader Justin Griffith, watching a facility that includes 11 educational institutions and a professional conference center continue to grow has been a real joy.

Griffith has seen the RLA’s executive director and general manager since 2005.

“We had a tremendous amount of grown since I’ve started,” said Griffith.  “We’re currently near capacity.  It’s a good problem to have on our campus.”

“I am so very proud to be living in our region where opportunities abound and the quality of life cannot be met elsewhere,” added Griffith, who grew up in Elkins, W.Va.  “Not only is Pittsburgh the most livable city, but we are fortunate to have great access to transportation, a world-class medical system, thriving cultural activities, and we are a hub of higher education.  I feel blessed to have such an amazing place to call home.”

Griffith has spent most of his life in education.

He began his career after college as executive director of the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce and Buckhannon Convention & Visitors Bureau in West Virginia where he began planning many professional, cultural and community events as well as establishing new programs for that region.

Griffith then took a position that allowed him to build upon that experience with West Virginia University.

“My career in adult education and lifelong learning really took off at WVU’s Jackson’s Mill Center for Lifelong Learning, managing the educational programming and conference services at the campus.  I was able to learn a great deal about lifelong learning and learning environments while getting my master’s degree along the way,” Griffith said.

After more than five years there, he made a move to its main campus in Morgantown, W.Va., to pursue doctoral studies in educational psychology, focusing on adult learning.

He also began a new career in academic advising and instruction.

Then he came to the RLA.

“The RLA has been a perfect fit for my unique experience and education in lifelong learning and conferencing.  I have since completed my doctor of education in educational psychology and have been continuing my contribution to the field of adult learners through the work we do at our campus as well as positioning the RLA as a national conference center model,” he said.

The RLA has the largest number of educational institutions housed in one facility in the United States, said Griffith, adding the RLA has served as the model of several other similar facilities just starting up.

Griffith said that within the next three years, the alliance board will need to look at whether to expand the existing building to keep up with demand.

“Our goal (at the RLA) is to have a true impact on the economy of south-western Pennsylvania,” said Griffith.

“We’ve been at the forefront of education delivery.  We continue to set the bar.  When technology develops, we’re the first to offer these things.”

The Regional Learning Alliance, in the Cranberry Woods office park, was developed on land donated by Mine Safety Appliances.  It hosts several divisions of that company, the corporate headquarters of Westinghouse Electric and numerous other companies.

The majority of the Cranberry Woods office park off Route 228 is in Butler County.  However, the alliance building is just over the line in Allegheny County, though part of the campus is also in Cranberry.

The alliance building is 76,000-square-feet on 21 acres that opened in August 2004.  It cost $12 million to build.

The RLA’s concept was developed through a partnership among 11 educational institutions, and spearheaded by Slippery Rock University, to meet the training and educational needs of business and industry in the region.  The center offers more than 30 degree programs.

Griffith said he works closely with the RLA’s academic schools to deliver their programs and offer new programs of study.

His role includes the overall management of the alliance’s conference center.

“We cater to nontraditional students,” said Griffith, who added there are about 600 students taking courses at the RLA.

Some of the courses are online, but the majority of the students visit the RLA with many of the classes in the evenings or on the weekends.

Griffith’s role also is to talk with leaders of the larger regional companies, including Westinghouse, MSA and Siemens, to assess what types of programs they need and to relay that information to the RLA’s education institutions.

“We learned that larger companies are looking for people to manage their professional engineers.  As a result, this fall Robert Morris University will be offering for the first time an engineering management degree.”

The master’s degree in the engineering management program will prepare students for advancement in technical and managerial fields, teaching them to integrate technical, scientific and management knowledge, techniques and skills.

Robert Morris also is adding a second master’s program in instructional leadership that is designed for elementary or secondary school teachers, those in corporate training and development or those in scholastic athletics and recreation management.

Since the center opened, more than 700 companies have used the RLA for their professional development, seminars and conferences including corporate, manufacturing, retail and education sectors, said Griffith.

The center includes 28 meeting rooms for small groups or up to 400 people, computer projection in meeting rooms, a tiered meeting room and all the modern amenities for conducting educational, seminars or professional development.

“Most of these companies have well-trained professional to train their staff.  We provide the environment to hold their programs,” he said.

When he’s not working, Griffith’s, hobbies include travel, theater, opera, antiquing and art.

“I am a season-ticket holder to the Pittsburgh Opera and attend many performances of the Pittsburgh CLO, public theater, ballet, special performances and support as many local and regional cultural activities as my schedule allows,” he said.


About The Regional Learning Alliance

The Regional Learning Alliance is the Greater Pittsburgh area's breakthrough learning and conferencing facility, and the nation’s largest collaborative college campus. The LEED certified green building, located in Cranberry Woods, is exclusively designed to host training seminars, business meetings, planning sessions, board meetings and conferences. The Complete Meeting Package includes flexible meeting space, IT/AV meeting needs, ergonomic furniture design, abundant food service options, and a professional staff willing to assist in managing any event. Additionally the facility offers college students the best of a traditional college campus, with the modern amenities of a first-class executive training center. Please visit our Web site, www.theRLA.org to learn more.

Contact: Kristina Smith Kristina@theRLA.org | 724.741.1025