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OIL CITY, PA- Clarion University-Venango Campus saw a year of tremendous growth in 2009, including the completion of $3.5 million in major construction projects, national accreditation of two of its newest programs, acquisition of $400,000 in state-of-the-art medical education equipment, record-breaking enrollment, and expansion of cultural events and out-of-class programming.

Academic Achievements

            The Venango Campus Commencement Ceremony was held on Saturday, May 2, 2009. In the evening ceremony at the campus, where Penelec President James Napier delivered the Commencement Address, 153 associate degrees were awarded, and the campus' first Honors Program graduates were recognized. Earlier in the day, 61 bachelor and master's degrees in Venango Campus-based programs were awarded at the Commencement Ceremony at the Clarion campus.

            Clarion University's Industrial Technology program, offered through its Department of Applied Technology that is located at Clarion University-Venango Campus, was awarded national accreditation by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) in November. ATMAE is recognized as the premier professional association for the accreditation of industrial technology programs in colleges, universities, and technical institutes. Over 100 students are currently enrolled in the Venango Campus' applied technology programs and graduate job placement exceeds 93%. Three concentrations of the program, machining, welding, and industrial maintenance, are now underway in the Ridgway/St. Marys area, in partnership with Precision Manufacturing Institute, and more off-site offerings are being considered.

            The Respiratory Care Program, offered through a consortium of Clarion University's School of Nursing and Allied Health, UPMC Northwest, and UPMC Horizon, received full accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) in December. Program graduates are exceeding national averages on the National Board for Respiratory Care credentialing examinations and are readily finding employment to help meet staffing needs in a high-demand occupation for local and regional health care organizations.   

            Fall 2009 enrollment at the Venango Campus reached an all-time high, with a growth of almost 10% over the previous fall.

            The Venango Campus launched an innovative bachelor's degree in fall 2009 that is especially of interest to students who have earned credits toward a degree, but never completed one. Offered through a blend of traditional classroom instruction and online courses, the Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies degree program allows students to explore a wide range of academic disciplines, creating a customized concentration in their own area of interest, without ever leaving the Venango Campus.

            Students who begin the program without any credits actually earn two degrees as they progress through the bachelor's degree program. After completing 64 credits toward the 120-credit bachelor's degree, students will be awarded an Associate of Arts in Arts and Sciences degree, followed by a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies degree upon completion of the program.

            A cohort of students employed in economic development, health care, industry, the service sector, and other fields graduated in December from the campus' first executive-style MBA program. Accredited by AACSB International, the premier international accrediting agency for university schools of business, the program was designed with the input of the business community and developed by the campus and the university's College of Business Administration to meet the needs of community leaders by offering live classroom instruction on Saturdays and online courses.

Construction Projects

            Leadership Hall was made possible by Mike and Joyce Hughes, who have funded two other student apartment buildings at the Venango Campus. The building's name recognizes the leadership contributions of hundreds of men and women who have helped to provide educational opportunities for the residents of the region since the campus' inception in 1961.

            Bradford George Carmack Barnes Hall was funded by retired accounting professor Greg Barnes in memory of his son. Mr. Barnes also made a gift to fund the new Gregory Barnes Center for Biotechnology Business Development at the Clarion campus.

            With the two new buildings, the student apartment complex now houses 89 students in five buildings. When complete, the planned seven-building complex will house 132 students.

            West End Pond, a treasured community landmark and important natural resource, was restored to its original size and lighted walkways, a pavilion to be used for entertainment, a fire pit, Victorian clock, and other amenities were added to provide additional recreational and educational opportunities. The project was funded by private, corporate, and charitable donations, grants made possible through the help of state and local legislators and community leaders, and university investment.

            In addition, locker rooms in Robert W. Rhoades Center and ground floor restrooms in Frame Hall were completely renovated.

School of Nursing and Allied Health

            Through a $200,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, with a matching contribution by Clarion University, the School of Nursing and Allied Health purchased life-size human patient simulators that will be shared with its clinical education partners. These computerized simulation manikins provide an interactive learning environment in which nursing students have an opportunity to practice clinical and critical thinking skills in realistic, real-time situations. Instructors can select multiple scenarios to which students can react, assess the patient's condition, and provide the appropriate treatment, thereby developing their competence and self-confidence.

            Over 600 students are currently enrolled in the Venango Campus-based School of Nursing and Allied Health's programs, making this one of the largest nursing and allied health programs in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education. Nursing students received nearly $300,000 in nursing scholarship and grant funding during the 2008-09 academic year.

            The Department of Allied Health continued to grow, adding clinical partner sites in New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, and Clearfield, Pennsylvania, to its list of clinical partners in Sharon, Kittanning, Pittsburgh, and Seneca, for its Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences degree program. The program enjoys a 100% pass rate on the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certification examination in radiography, dating back to the program's beginning in 1998.

            For the second time, high school students interested in exploring a career in health care spent a week in June at the campus at a Health Careers Camp, sponsored by the Northwest Health Care Industry Partnership and Northwest Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center. Twenty-four high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from throughout northwestern Pennsylvania participated, while living in the student apartments.

Cultural Events and Out-of-Class Programming

            The Venango Campus continued to be a center for thought-provoking cultural and educational community events.

            In March 2009, it hosted a legal symposium entitled "What If The Supreme Court Looked Like This: All Women," featuring a panel of eight female Commonwealth judges led by former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman. Introduced with a brief video by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, the program explored the premise that, since many women have taken their places on the bench since the appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor to the United States Supreme Court in 1981, the day may come when the nation could see an all-female court.

            On the panel with Justice Newman were five judges of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Judge Cheryl Allen, Judge Christine Donohue, Judge Renee Conn Jubelirer, Judge Maureen E. Lally-Green, and Judge Jacqueline Shogan. Common Pleas Court Judges Stephanie Domitrovich and Judge Maureen Skerda completed the panel of judges. Senator Mary Jo White, of the 21st Senatorial District, served as master of ceremonies. The event was coordinated by Dr. Maria Battista Kerle, instructor of speech communication at the campus.

            The Barbara Morgan Harvey Center for the Study of Oil Heritage, funded through an endowment by the late Joseph Harvey and his children, sponsored the third annual Community History Days in June. The event featured activities celebrating the rich historical heritage of the oil region.

            Well-known oil industry scholar Dr. William R. Brice, author of the biography Myth, Legend, Reality: Edwin L. Drake and the Early Oil Industry, was the guest speaker at the fifth annual Harvey Center lecture in October. Earlier in the day, Dr. Brice addressed two large groups of middle school and high school students.        

            The campus continued to offer its popular international film series, featuring the works of independent filmmakers from the United States, China, Italy, Iran, Japan, The United Kingdom, Columbia, Sweden, and India. In February, it celebrated diversity with Dare 2 Care Week, a series of activities designed to encourage students, faculty, staff, and the community to think about, discuss, understand, and accept differences in people, in such areas as culture, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical appearance, handicaps, and social and economic conditions.  Nesse Godin, a Holocaust survivor who has dedicated her adult life to teaching and sharing memories of the Holocaust, spoke to a large audience of students, community members, and campus faculty and staff in November.

            To meet the needs of its growing student population, the campus developed a new inter-campus intramurals program designed to promote health and fitness, increase physical, social, and leadership skills, demonstrate civility, and provide opportunities for the development of lifelong healthy habits through intramurals, recreation activities, fitness programs and the fitness center, and club sports.


Clarion University-Venango Campus has become known in the region as a leader in developing strategic educational partnerships with organizations in business, industry, health care, education, and other sectors to expand and enhance programs. These partnerships have allowed the campus to extend outreach, share resources, and meet the changing needs of the Commonwealth and its workforce in a dynamic and cost-effective manner.

This fall, President Joseph Grunenwald and Executive Dean Christopher Reber were invited by the Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Dr. John Cavanaugh, to discuss this partnership model with the State System Board of Governors and leaders of the other 13 state-owned universities.

"Our partnerships have driven the campus' growth and development in recent years, and provide life-changing opportunities for residents of the region," said Dr. Reber.  "It was truly an honor and an affirmation to be asked to share this model with our colleagues throughout the Commonwealth."

4/7/2010 12:00 AM

Clarion University–Venango Campus Celebrates Record Growth