Douglas Education Center (DEC) has a long and storied history in the Monongahela Valley. From its humble beginnings in 1904 to the present, a common thread throughout its history is the life-changing experience it has afforded its students. Beyond its official documented history are the personal stories of the thousands of students who have passed through its doors.
DEC’s roots reach back to 1904 when Warren Douglas founded Douglas Business College (DBC), located in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. The business changed owners four times and moved locations three times between 1904 and 1989 when the present owner, Jeffrey D. Imbrescia, purchased it. Over the course of the next 25 years, DEC grew and changed in response to institutional and community needs. Enrollment soared and, with it, the need for more space.
Between 1989 and 1999 DEC offered programs in specialized business, business administration, and executive secretary. Seeing a need in the community for education in the medical fields, Imbrescia added medical programs into the curricula in 1992.
The institution entered a period of growth and development. In 1999, Imbrescia made the bold decision to add art programs into the curricula with the launch of the Graphic Design & Web Program. The Millennium (2000) saw continued expansion with the introduction of Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program. Now in its 14th year, Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program is referred to as a “destination program.” It has graduated students from all 50 states, as well as attracted international students from countries such as England, France, Canada, Serbia and Argentina.
Allan and Wilson’s Digital Illustration Program was unveiled in 2002. The Cosmetology Academy opened its doors in 2003, and in 2008, The Factory Digital Filmmaking Program at Douglas and Dorian’s Fantasy Art Program were added. Demands for skilled laborers in the energy trade industries prompted DEC to launched the Natural Gas Extraction & Distribution Techniques Program in 2013 and the Commercial Driver’s License Program in 2014.
Under Imbrescia’s leadership, what started out as a business and secretarial school housed in one building grew exponentially and now DEC spans eight city blocks. Today, over 110 years after its inception, DEC continues to break new ground in academic achievement, staying true to its roots and providing quality education to those who wish to follow their dreams.