Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation

Diehl House at Knowledge Park - headquarters for the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation

Partnering with Today’s Business Leaders to Prepare the Leaders of Tomorrow

The world is changing rapidly. New needs and uncharted opportunities arise every day. At York College's Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation (GCCI), we're giving our students the opportunity to keep pace. The GCCI builds on York College's long tradition of hands-on learning by pairing the skills of our students and faculty with the needs of our community — to the benefit of all.

Collaborating with industry leaders, our students confront real-world challenges with creative and critical thinking. They emerge with skills, experience, and a network that will jumpstart their careers.  

  • The Knowledge Park at YCP
  • The Center for Faculty Excellence
  • Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows

Through these initiatives, the GCCI provides resources for students, faculty, industry stakeholders, and community partners to collaborate on projects with real-world impact. 

Connect Your Passions. Create Your Community. Construct Your Future.

The Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation includes three key areas: Knowledge Park, Center for Faculty Excellence, and the Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows and Honors Community. Learn more about each area of focus.

At the Knowledge Park, students learn in a project-based, real-world environment with passionate faculty and representatives from local companies. They'll build résumé experience while working on meaningful initiatives — and even better, they'll be part of lasting, meaningful progress that extends throughout York City and the surrounding region.

Knowledge Park at YCP supports and strengthens relationships between York College students and faculty, industry partners, and the York County community. Located at the historic site of the former Schmidt & Ault Paper Co., the revitalized building provides offices for rent as well as collaborative shared spaces for turning business challenges into business opportunities.

Learn More | Knowledge Park at YCP

The challenges faced by regional businesses and our greater community are often best addressed through a wide range of perspectives, and that's where the CFE thrives. Faculty and students from all areas of the College collaborate across disciplines to address important issues. By bringing together experts in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, business fields, and more, the CFE provides a venue to share ideas and develop meaningful learning experiences for students. 

The Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) supports York College’s faculty as they continue to set new standards for educational excellence. With support and resources from the CFE, faculty will be empowered to create exciting opportunities for our students to learn more actively and deeply.

The CFE expands faculty’s ability to engage students in learning that combines residential education, project-based learning, global awareness/experience, and proficiency with the virtual tools that are increasingly part of educational and professional environments. These practices, shared by the Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows and supported by the Center for Community Engagement, are now being made available to the entire student body. And the Knowledge Park is providing a testing and implementation ground for the kinds of engaged learning that benefits faculty, students, and community partners.

Learn More | Center for Faculty Excellence

By their very nature, teaching and learning are collaborative efforts, based in a shared desire to develop new knowledge. The Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows program, along with other programs of the York College Honors Community, has developed innovative ways to extend learning even further, beyond the classroom and out into the world around us. This is how we “design extraordinary lives.” Administered by our Center for Community Engagement, this is indeed an Honors program with a difference. And the difference is engagement with community partners from day one. 

Working with local industry leaders in the Knowledge Park at YCP and with scores of community partners, our Fellows and Scholars learn by doing. They plan and execute real-world projects that bring mutual benefit. They generate new ideas, fuel intellectual curiosity, and hone the talents that will lead to personal and professional success. 

Working with the Graham Center, these student leaders are working to extend these opportunities to all students at York College. 

Graham Collaborative Innovation FellowsHonors CommunityCenter for Community Engagement

Updates from the GCCI

One of the key partners of the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation is York College’s well-established Center for Community Engagement (CCE). Through the CCE, the College has developed deep and wide relationships with area non-profits, governmental organizations, NGOs, and educational institutions. This network of partners is now being extended to other industries by the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation. But we also know that silos between the for-profit and non-profit worlds are not productive; indeed, the concept of “social entrepreneurship” and “corporate social responsibility” are increasingly important. By linking the work of these two College units, we will find ways to find profit and sustainability in all senses of those words.

What one learns, and how deeply one learns, is usually affected by where one learns. Gone are the days when all learning took the form of lectures to students; instead, our classes at York College are experienced and activity-based. The classrooms that we work within need to keep pace with this active, hands-on learning. To create the classroom of the future, our Honors Community Students and Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows did secondary and primary research, interviewed students and faculty, and developed a plan for classrooms designed for active learning. Over the summer of 2023, two new types of learning spaces were built on our campus: The Graham Innovation Collaboratories. These prototypes are being tested during the 2023-24 academic year by a group of pioneering faculty and students, from whom we can learn about new ways to engage our students in learning by doing — the hallmark of York College and our Graham Collaborative Innovation Fellows. We’ll report on the findings to the College community so that we can continue to innovate teaching and learning on our campus and build the kinds of spaces promote deep, active learning. Along the way, we’ll make sure that our students and faculty keep working together toward redesigning education.

The Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation has established headquarters within the newly-opened Diehl House, where initial Knowledge Park partners are now at work. There, the Graham Center will work with those partners to enrich our students’ learning experience and establish key faculty partnerships. The Graham Center offices are located alongside our first Knowledge Park partners, and illustrate this key site for collaboration.

Firinne Research — a contract lab that brings over 50 years of combined experience in research and development, and will work with students not only in chemistry, but business, marketing, technical writing, and other fields.

MRG Labs — first an anchor tenant of the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, this analytical chemistry company provides lab services with the mission of assisting maintenance professionals with the health and longevity of machinery. MRG will continue to offer opportunities for students across disciplines, and this ongoing partnership demonstrates the value of the J.D. Brown Center’s work. Now, with the adjacent Knowledge Park, incubated companies have a site to which they might choose to fledge, keeping opportunities for our students right here in York.

Dynamic Family Narratives — a cutting-edge creative agency specializing in the creation of immersive digital narratives for both families and businesses, this Knowledge Park tenant opens a wealth of opportunities for students in a wide range of fields, such as design, writing, Public History, and technology. Creating narratives is a key skill for all disciplines, as stories arise from creative fields, business, and analysis of data. All need this valuable skill.

These are just the first of the industry partners who will offer York College students opportunities to learn by doing. Many more will be joining us in early 2024, as the first Phase of the Knowledge Park building opens!

After years of planning and developing partnerships, the Diehl House opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting hosted by former York College President, Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith. The first floor will house the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation headquarters as well as Knowledge Park partner MRG Labs. Two other Knowledge Park partners, Firinne Research and Dynamic Family Narratives, will occupy the second floor. The Diehl House also features flexible space designed to facilitate interaction and collaboration among KP partners, students, and faculty. 

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One of the key elements of the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation is its mission of bridging silos. Knowledge is not made, good decisions are not formed, and actions are not fulfilled, within narrow disciplines. To support collaborative innovation, the Graham Center provides grants to faculty, administrative divisions, and students across fields of study, demonstrating the synergies that can drive our local knowledge economy. The first round of grants offered demonstrate this collaborative innovation:

A grant was offered to a group comprised of faculty in many disciplines who have joined our Dean of Student Development and Campus Life in efforts to promote student wellness. This group will draw upon existing research and programming elsewhere to assess and improve the state of wellness on our campus. In the process, they are demonstrating how a wide range of campus and community partners can work together toward a shared goal. We’ll continue to report on their work.

A grant was also provided to a group of faculty in Sport Management, Recreation, Exercise Science, and Public History, also working with our Athletics Division. This grant is a great example of how the Graham Center can break down silos that sometimes keep students, faculty, and administrators from working together. This project will also engage our students in real-world activities. First, students will engage in independent research under the direction of faculty, Then, during the March break, the group will travel to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado to experience first-hand perspectives on those research topics. The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) will work with the students and faculty to customize the 3-day experience to maximize educational benefit. The time in Colorado Springs will allow students to engage with some of the best professionals and resources in the country and embody an interdisciplinary experience. At the conclusion of the semester, a symposium will be held (“Celebration of Sport”) with internal (specific student groups and classes, York College athletic coaches, etc.) and external invitees (sport businesses, community groups, etc.) to showcase what students have learned and created. Ultimately, the connections formed via the showcase could yield new synergy between the students, York College, and various community organizations or individuals. For example, it is easy to envision conversations moving towards future collaboration on local projects, internship opportunities for students, and so forth.

In the spring of 2022, the Knowledge Park received a grant of $125K from the George I. Alden Trust of Worcester, Massachusetts. 

“We particularly were impressed with your Knowledge Park investment as we look to see colleges making serious and conscientious efforts to improve their respective communities,” said Warner S. Fletcher, chair of the Alden Trust, in the award letter to the College. “This project certainly seems to get strong marks in that area.”

George Alden established the George I. Alden Trust on August 24, 1912, for the general purpose of “the maintenance of some charitable or philanthropic enterprises” with specific interest in “the promotion of education in schools, colleges, or other educational institutions.”

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York College of Pennsylvania and WellSpan Research are collaborating to offer an eight-week Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program (SURIP) for undergraduate students enrolled in a pre-health or health-related program.

Research Interns will work with WellSpan investigators and trained clinical research staff to support clinical research/clinical trials in progress. They will gain an understanding of the responsible conduct of clinical research and assist with processes related to conducting clinical research. Based on current WellSpan research needs, Research Interns may be assigned to a specific research team for the duration of the program or work with several teams.

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For several years, York College had been planning the creation of a centerpiece organization to promote innovation through collaboration across the entire campus. A transformative gift from York businessman Don Graham, through the Graham Foundation, allowed those plans to come to fruition with the creation of the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation (GCCI). 

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GCCI Staff

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Tamara Sniad
Tamara Sniad, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation
Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation
Meredith Baker
Meredith Baker
Senior Administrative Assistant
Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation