New, Revised Programs Help Revitalize Clarion University
(Photo courtesy of Dr. Dale)
After several years of declining or stagnant numbers, Clarion University’s new freshmen enrollment numbers have increased this year, thanks in part to the university’s recent focus on creating and maintaining the kind of academic programs that will draw students to the school.
According to Communication Manager Tina Horner, this year the university premiered several new and revised programs.
The Master of Athletic Training degree is new this year. It is a two-year professional degree that prepares students as graduate-level athletic trainers who will be eligible to sit for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Board of Certification Examination.
The 58-credit master’s degree program entails 46 credits of graduate-level theory-based course work in athletic training and 12 credits of graduate-level athletic training clinical practicum taught in four consecutive fall and spring semesters.
In the Accounting Department, there is a new concentration available in internal auditing, which is designed to meet the challenges of a changing business environment. With an increased need for internal auditors to support leadership agendas, the new concentration is designed to give students the ability to have an impact on value creation, participate in strategy development, assist with risk management, and pursue a new focus on fraud.
According to Phil Frese, Dean of the College of Business Administration and Information Sciences, the College of Business Administration and Information Sciences along with the College of Arts and Science and the College of Health Science and Human Services are also working on starting two other new programs: CSI (Clarion Security Institute) and the PIER (Petrochemical Institute for Education and Research).
“These new institutes will address the job opportunities forecasted in the next ten years,” Frese said.
“We are grateful for the creative efforts the faculty from each college has expended to develop these intercollegiate programs.”
Horner noted that another program, the Associate of Science in Respiratory Care degree, isn’t exactly new, but was just brought out of moratorium this year.
According to Deb Sobina, Assistant Sean of the College of Health and Human Services, the Associate of Science in Respiratory Care degree program prepares graduates to assume roles as respiratory care practitioners at the advanced level (RRT-Registered Respiratory Therapists) and affords students the opportunity to attain a clinical knowledge base in respiratory care as well as a liberal arts education that will aid in their role and function as health care professionals.
The program is a 24-month continuous associate program and graduates of the program are eligible to take the Written Registry Examination and the Clinical Simulation Examination administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care.
“The field of respiratory care affords exciting opportunities for career diversity,” Sobina noted.
Along with the new programs, the university has also dramatically revised the Bachelor of Science in Special Education degree to meet the new Pennsylvania Department of Education Standards.
“There is a teacher shortage across the country, and in PA, this is particularly true in Special Education. Special Education is ranked at the top of the list for unfilled positions or positions filled with people who are emergency certified,” noted Gwyneth Price, dean of the newly launched School of Education.
“As Dr. Richard Sabousky, chair of Special Education Department, tells me all the time, ‘though the number of students in PA is still decreasing, the number of students in PA with disabilities is increasing. Therefore, the demand for special educators across the Commonwealth continues to increase.'”
In November 2019, in reaction to the shortage, the Pennsylvania legislature signed into law several changes to the Special Education certification. According to Price, Act 82 allows Special Education to now be a standalone degree and the certification covers Pre-K through grade 12 for people up to 21 years of age.
“Just in the last month, the PA Department of Education published their new standards and guidelines for this certification, and Clarion was ready. In fact, we weren’t just ready, we were already meeting them. Better yet, Dr. Sabousky was involved in the development of the guidelines and was on the forefront of determining what all future Special Education teachers in PA should know and be able to do,” Price said.
According to Price, Clarion University students are uniquely prepared with a deliberate focus on evidence-based practices and a comprehensive effort for students to learn about all types of conditions and disabilities.
“Our new program will continue to incorporate specific instructional techniques for struggling readers, strategies for teaching mathematics, and applied behavioral analysis courses. Our program is also the only program in the Commonwealth able to give Competent Learner Model courses, content focusing on students with autism, for course credit,” Price said.
“Special Education and Education have always been marquis programs at Clarion,” Sabousky noted. “Our graduates are highly sought after.”
Along with the new Special Education PK-12 program, the department continues to offer the Competent Learner Model (CLM) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certificates at the undergraduate level, as well as a Masters in Special Education leading to certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
Additionally, Clarion University debuted an Associate of Science in Nursing program at a satellite location in Somerset County.
According to Deborah J. Kelly, Chair of Nursing at the Venango Campus, eighteen months ago the Somerset County Commissioners and the Somerset Foundation for Higher Education approached Clarion University about the possibility of bringing the Associate of Science (ASN) program to Somerset County.
“They were impressed with the quality of Clarion’s nursing programs and wanted to be able to offer this educational opportunity to their residents,” Kelly said.
Like many other rural communities, Somerset County is experiencing a shortage of registered nurses.
The first cohort of students will begin classes on August 26 at the newly renovated wing in the Somerset County Education Center, 6022 Glades Pike, Somerset, Pa.
“The addition of this site has been a collaborative effort between Clarion University and members of the Somerset community. State Senator Patrick Stefano, Representative Carl Metzgar, the Somerset County Commissioners, and the Somerset Foundation Higher Education Foundation secured funds for the renovations and scholarships for Somerset County residents,” Kelly said.
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