PITTSBURG, Kan. — Officials with Pittsburg State University say big things are in store for the college’s Center for Reading.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 34 percent of children in the U.S. are below the basic reading level.

Since opening in the early ’90s, the PSU Center for Reading has made it their goal to lower that number, helping more than 24,000 kids, students, and community members become more competent readers through their Reading Intervention Services and Assessment programs.

“If you can’t read, then you are at serious jeopardy. In our culture today, we have individuals who can’t read their prescriptions well enough to take their medication, and that is not a small amount, that’s roughly 93-100 million adults who can’t read well enough to do that,” said Dr. David Hurford, PSU Center for Reading Executive Director.

Dr. David Hurford is the Executive Director of the Reading Center and has been since 1996.

He says he’s out to help people of all ages become better readers.

“Anyone who thinks that they might have a reading problem, or if their child has a reading problem, or a relative or a friend, we don’t really care; we just want to help kids be competent readers. Also, adults, we’ve worked with adults as well, and in fact, the oldest person that we had come to our center was 63,” said Hurford.

Dr. Hurford believes pretty much anyone can improve their reading ability through a simple vocabulary coding system.

“You can read practically any word if you know the system, so the way that we should be teaching reading period is to help students first understand that it is a code and then how to decode and blend those sounds together and recognize the word,” said Hurford.

Thanks to the university’s Gorilla Rising Project, by 2026, the Center will have its own facility in downtown Pittsburg, separate from the PSU campus, allowing them additional resources and space to help even more people learn how to read.

“It is amazing how far we’ve come and the future, what it holds. I’m so excited to see us help more people, even outside of Kansas, but we still won’t turn anybody away,” said Michaela Ozier, PSU Center for Reading Director.