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Douglas Education Center reaches 110th anniversary

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Chris Buckley | The Valley Independent
Robert Tinnell has directed the The Factory Digital Filmmaking Program at Douglas Education Center in Monessen since its inception in 2008. It is just one example of how DEC has evolved over the past 10 years.

When Douglas Education Center marks its 110th anniversary this year, it will be a chance to look at how far the Monessen-based school has changed, not only over the past century, but even during the past 10 years.

“The 110th anniversary is important to us,” said Kevin Fear, chief marketing officer at DEC.

“The 100th was very important, and we were growing. We've evolved and changed so much in past 10 years. And we're expanding the school even more.

“110 means a lot because the school has changed so much.”

At the end of 2013, DEC celebrated the 10th anniversary of its cosmetology program and five years of the Factory Digital Film program. In addition, a Natural Gas Extraction and Distribution Techniques program was added last year.

“The cosmetology and film and gas and oil programs – we don't sit still,” Fear said.

Fear said DEC has evolved by continually updating the current programs to meet industry standards.

“Between new faculty, new technology, and new facilities, we're always pushing the envelope,” Fear said.

This year also marks Jeff Imbrescia's 25th anniversary as owner of DEC.

The school has a long and storied history in the Valley.

Douglas Business College was founded in 1904 as a business and secretarial school.

Now located in downtown Monessen, the school was located in Charleroi until 1957.

Malcolm A. Adams purchased the school in 1924 from the original owner. W. Patterson and H.V. Calhoon purchased it in 1948, changing the name to Douglas School of Business.

Charles A. and Joseph Toledo then purchased the school. When they moved it to Monessen, it was located in the Manos Theater building at 469 Donner Ave.

John S. Plavko and Andrew K. Solan acquired the institution in 1962. A fire devastated the school in 1969, after which classes were held in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.

In September 1970, the business was moved to its current location at 130 Seventh St.

John Plavko and his wife, Olga, took complete ownership in 1984.

DEC has expanded tremendously under Imbrescia's ownership.

In 1989, it began to offer 10-month associate in specialized business degrees in business administration and executive secretary, and 12-month diploma programs in intensive business and intensive secretarial.

In 1992, the school began to offer programs in the areas of medical assistant, medical business administration and medical administrative assistant.

In 1999, it added graphic communications, visual design and animated FX (now called graphic design) and Web programs.

But the program that put Douglas Education Center on the map was the addition of Tom Savini's Special Make-up Effects program in 2000.

The Allan & Wilson Digital Illustration program was added in 2002 and then the cosmetology program.

DEC kicked off the yearlong 110th anniversary by unveiling its new responsive-design website, The site includes new graphics and easier navigation, to commemorate the milestone.

The site was appropriately launched Jan. 10 (1-10).

Updates to the website will continue during the next several months as DEC looks to build upon the design of the site and integrate more content to better serve its diverse community of supporters.

“Because our demographic is young, they do a lot researching on tablets, desktops and smartphones.”

DEC is also planning to invite alumni back for a picnic and open the school for tours by public officials.

DEC is also looking to unveil hybrid classes, offered both on line and in the classroom setting.

“We're staying on the cutting edge and trying to put out a product that young students will be attracted to,” Fear said.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or