The innovative network of partnerships that has come to define Clarion University-Venango Campus attracted international attention in 2008, when leaders of the university's School of Nursing and Allied Health, located at the campus in Oil City, were invited to present one version of the unique model at a conference in Dublin, Ireland.
Dr. Kathleen Patterson, director of Clarion University's School of Nursing and Allied Health, located at the Venango Campus in Oil City, and Professor Joyce Keenan, chair of the Department of Nursing, were presenters at a conference entitled "Transforming Healthcare through Research, Education, and Technology," which was attended by representatives from nineteen countries. Co-author of the presentation was David Shaffer, chief nursing executive at Meadville Medical Center.
"My colleagues and I welcome invitations to share the blueprint for a partnership model that has played such a strong role in the growth and development of Clarion University-Venango Campus," said Dr. Christopher M. Reber, executive dean at the campus. "Through collaboration with leaders in business, industry, education, and health care, the university has been able to develop creative educational programs that provide tremendous opportunities for students in the region and beyond. In these times when many people face career changes, the need to provide them with affordable options that prepare them for successful futures is especially important."
Technology Enhances Education
The Venango Campus became a completely wireless campus in 2008, offering students and faculty the most up-to-date choices in electronically enhanced learning and teaching tools. The Internet is accessible to students in each of the campus' buildings and in "green spaces" across campus where students can study and conduct research while experiencing the outdoors. In the Cybercafé in the Robert W. Rhoades Center, students can work online and enjoy a meal or a snack.
"Smart Classrooms" feature computerized teaching stations installed with a PC or Macintosh computer that includes a high resolution LCD video projector for computer and video display, a projection screen that offers the professor "write-on" capabilities, ceiling mounted projectors, document cameras, VCR, audio systems, commonly used software, and connectivity to the university network and guest laptops.
"Today's students learn through interactive media, as well as through the traditional teaching methods," said Ms. Debra Sobina, director of finance and administration. "By integrating computer, multimedia, and network technology into teaching, students of all ages and all levels of competency have opportunities for an enhanced educational experience."
Nationally Accredited and New Programs Expand Quality
The Department of Allied Health continued to grow, expanding the list of radiologic sciences clinical partner sites into New Jersey, North Carolina, and Clearfield, Pennsylvania and bringing the list of affiliated clinical sites to seven, all accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). A measure of the program's success is the fact that graduates of the program have a 100% pass rate on the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification examination in radiography.
The two-year respiratory care program, which is offered in collaboration with UPMC Northwest and UPMC Horizon, graduated its first class of 11 students in August, 2008. The class size has now grown to thirty-seven students who are currently enrolled in the program. The program is a candidate for national accreditation by the Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoArc).
The Department of Applied Technology was developed in 2003 to prepare students for employment in high-demand industrial and administration fields and offers 26 concentrations of study in collaboration with seven technical education partners. Students complete one year of general education courses and one year of technical education at the partner sites to earn a Clarion University Associate of Applied Science in Administration Technology or Industrial Technology degree. The job placement rate for graduates of the program is currently at 97%. The industrial technology program is a candidate for national accreditation from the National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT).
One of the industrial partners, the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, offered its NHLA Lumber Inspection Training School in Oil City in the summer of 2008. This marked the first time in its sixty-year history as the only provider of lumber inspection training throughout the world that NHLA has offered the program offsite, thanks to the success of its five-year partnership with Clarion University-Venango Campus. Clarion University is the only university in the country to offer college credit for the NHLA program.
Three new bachelor degree programs proposed for the Venango Campus are in development. A Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology would allow students who have completed associate degree programs in allied health and industrial technology, and are working in their chosen fields, the ability to complete their bachelor's degrees online. A proposed Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice would be a completion program for the current Associate of Science in Criminal Justice degree, and would be offered at the Venango and Clarion campuses.
The campus' Division of Continuing Education, which offers certificate programs that can be earned in one year or less, launched programs in pharmacy technology and phlebotomy in 2008, in partnership with UPMC Northwest.
The first cohort of the executive-style Master of Business Administration degree program, which was launched in 2007, will graduate in December, 2009. Offered by the AACSB-accredited Clarion University College of Business Administration, the program was designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working individuals through an innovative blend of Saturday classes and on-line instruction.
The Venango Campus Honors Program began its second year in fall 2008. It offers students an enhanced collegiate experience through special classes and out-of-classroom activities designed to stimulate intellectual interest, social interaction, and creativity. Under the direction of Dr. David Lott, associate professor of biology, the program offers thought-provoking workshops, lectures, and field trips that complement what students are learning through the regular curriculum.
The out-of-class component of student life has grown in importance with the addition of students living on campus and the significant increase in enrollment in recent years. A diverse cultural and recreational events program now includes a comprehensive series of lectures, concerts, coffee houses, art exhibits, and independent films. A new club sports program, which will include competition with other campuses and colleges, will debut in fall 2009.
Construction Projects Totaling More Than $3.5 Million are Currently Underway at the Venango Campus
The fourth and fifth buildings of the planned seven-building student apartment complex are slated to open for student occupancy in fall 2009. A three-story building was made possible by Joyce and Mike Hughes, who have also funded Edward V. and Jessie L. Peters Hall and Michael F. and Joyce I. Hughes Hall. A two-story building was funded by Greg Barnes, retired business professor, in honor of his late son, Bradford George Carmack Barnes. Mr. Barnes also made a gift to fund the new Gregory Barnes Center for Biotechnology Business Development at the Clarion campus.
The finishing touches to the restoration and enhancement of West End Pond, a more than $1 million project funded primarily through gifts and grants, will be added in spring 2009. The pond was returned to its original size, and amenities are being added, such as lighted walkways, a pavilion, a fire pit, a four-sided Victorian clock, and other improvements, to create additional recreational opportunities for students and area residents.
Harvey Center Becomes Regional Clearinghouse for Historical Activities
The Barbara Morgan Harvey Center for the Study of Oil Heritage, located in the Charles L. Suhr Library at the Venango Campus, held its second Community History Days in June, 2008. The two-day festival featured lectures, displays, story-telling, entertainment, and other activities celebrating the area's rich history.
In November, Steve Weinberg, noted author and professor of journalism at the University of Missouri whose most recent book is Taking on The Trust: The Epic Battle of Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller, was the guest speaker at the fourth annual Harvey Center Lecture. Mr. Weinberg provided thought-provoking and entertaining presentations throughout the day and evening to middle school and high school students, university students, and members of the community.
In addition, the Harvey Center is conducting a series of videotaped interviews with members of the community to gain their historical perspectives on a wide range of topics. An ongoing project, these oral histories will provide unique personal perspectives on the people and events that shaped the region's rich heritage. They will be permanently archived at the Harvey Center and will be offered to public television and other educational outreach facilities. Interviews are filmed in historically significant venues such as the National Transit Building, Venango County Historical Society, and Victorian homes throughout the region. Thus far, interviews have been filmed with the late Joseph Harvey, John Comet, Bud Pelaghi, Charlie Breene, Carolee Michener, Bill Huber, Bob Graham, and Pamela Forker.
Community History Days, the annual Harvey Lecture, and the oral history project are funded by the Harvey Center endowment.
Clarion University-Venango Campus, the first regional campus in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, was created in 1961 by community leaders who recognized the need for higher education for the residents of Venango County and were willing to give generously of their time and resources to make that vision a reality.
"The role of partnerships as the key to the success of Clarion University-Venango Campus was forged at that very beginning, and the bond of community and university continues to this day as the cornerstone of our mission and vision," said Dr. Reber. "The campus will continue to seek inventive and effective programs and services to meet the region's future needs."