Clarion University-Venango Campus was honored by the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce in 2010 with the Partner in Business Award. Given for the first time by the chamber, the award is a companion to the long-standing Business of the Year Award and recognizes a non-profit, governmental or educational organization that has developed a close partnership with the business community as a means to achieve its mission.
"From the very beginning, when community leaders and members of the Oil City Area Chamber of Commerce envisioned the need for a higher education presence in Venango County, to the present, Venango Campus has been the product of community and university, working together to advance the needs of the region," said Dr. Christopher M. Reber, executive dean, at the ceremony in April. "To be recognized with the Partner in Business Award by the organization that played such an integral role in the creation of the campus is truly an affirmation of our mission for which we are extremely grateful."
The honor was one of the highlights of a very exciting year for the campus, which included the largest graduation in the history of the campus, development of a new academic degree offering and new concentrations within existing degrees, record enrollment growth, forging of additional educational partnerships, new staff and faculty appointments, and the creation of nationally competitive club sports programs.
In May, the Venango Campus held the largest commencement in its 49-year history, with the graduation of 270 students in Venango Campus programs, from associate to master's degrees. In addition to traditional students were cohorts of nursing students who completed the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program at Meadville Medical Center and UPMC Northwest. There was also a cohort of displaced workers from the Ridgway/St. Marys area who completed associate degrees in industrial technology that were offered in Elk County in partnership with Precision Manufacturing Institute (PMI).
A Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitative Sciences degree with a concentration in Court and Community Services has been approved for a fall 2011 start at the Venango Campus. This degree will be a partnership of the paralegal studies and rehabilitative sciences programs. The associate and bachelor's degrees in rehabilitative sciences achieved national accreditation in 2010.
Growth through Educational Partnerships
Clarion University-Venango Campus has more than doubled its enrollment in recent years due in large part to its growing network of educational partnerships with organizations in business, industry, health care, education, and other sectors. These partnerships have allowed the campus to enhance and expand programs, extend outreach, share resources, and meet the changing needs of the Commonwealth and its workforce in a dynamic and cost-effective manner.
Clarion University signed a partnership agreement in summer 2010 with Erie Institute of Technology (EIT) to offer its Associate of Applied Science in Industrial and Administration Technology either completely or partly in Erie, through the Department of Applied Technology, located at the Venango Campus. Students can complete the technical component of the program in a number of concentrations at EIT and the general education courses at the Venango Campus or online.
The Department of Applied Technology also created two new administration technology concentrations.
A Certified Web Designer concentration, designed to prepare students for a wide range of employment opportunities designing and enhancing websites, is offered in partnership with CS Technologies Plus in Seneca.
Clarion University was approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Auctioneer Examiners to offer an auctioneering program through the Venango Campus' Department of Applied Technology. The program, the only approved auctioneering training program in western Pennsylvania, is also the only program in the Commonwealth that offers university credit for the program that can then form the foundation for an associate degree or upper-division university degree. It is designed to prepare students to sit for the Pennsylvania State Auctioneer Licensure Exam and is offered in partnership with Charlene A. Caple, a licensed and bonded Pennsylvania auctioneer who has authored the definitive text for auctioneering courses of study in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The growing Department of Allied Health also expanded its educational partnership network to offer an accredited paramedic technology program with New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn. Students in that program enroll in the associate of science in allied health degree and complete the general education courses online.
New Venango Campus Appointments
Following a national search, Dr. Sharon Falkenstern was named director of Clarion University's School of Nursing and Allied Health, located at Venango Campus, in summer 2010. In this academic leadership position, Dr. Falkenstern oversees all programs and faculty of the School, which offers associate, bachelor and master's degrees in nursing, with nurse practitioner and nursing education concentrations offered through the master's degree program. The Department of Allied Health offers, in partnership with regional hospitals, a bachelor of science in medical imaging sciences, with concentrations in radiography and ultrasound, an associate degree in allied health with multiple concentrations, and an associate degree in respiratory care.
Dr. Falkenstern came to her new position from The Pennsylvania State University, where she served on the nursing faculty since 1992. She earned her bachelor and master's degrees in nursing from Case Western Reserve University and her Ph.D. from Penn State. She is a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) and is board certified as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
Laurie Pierce was named to a tenure-track nursing faculty position in fall 2010. Professor Pierce earned her associate degree in nursing from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, her bachelor degree in nursing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her master's degree in nursing from Old Dominion University. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree.
Dr. Iris Dunkle has recently joined the Venango Campus Department of Arts and Sciences as a tenure-track assistant professor of English. Dr. Dunkle came to Venango Campus from Northern California, bringing with her a strong background in teaching, writing for publication, academic research, and developing computer-based educational programs. She earned her bachelor's degree in English at The George Washington University, her master's degree in poetry at New York University, and a Ph.D. in English from Case Western Reserve University.
Nursing and Allied Health Simulation Lab
Clarion University and its health care partners have developed a vision and plan to create a state-of-the-art nursing and allied health simulation laboratory that will offer nursing students an interactive learning environment in which to practice clinical and critical thinking skills in realistic, real-time situations, using highly sophisticated computerized simulation manikins.
With more than 600 students, Clarion's School of Nursing and Allied Health, located at the Venango Campus, is one of the largest in the 14-university Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. This new laboratory will create a highly sophisticated learning facility that will transform the way that students enrolled in the School are educated. The simulation laboratory will also be made available to be used as a training center for health care professionals from local agencies seeking certification and/or training in their fields.
The cutting-edge lab facility will include life-size mannequins and high-tech medical apparatuses that will provide students new opportunities to apply theoretical concepts to highly concrete patient applications, under the direction of faculty, presenting exciting educational experiences that effectively bridge theory and practice. It will feature an intensive care unit patient area with an ICU-type bed, a child/maternity patient area with a birthing bed, and a medical/surgical patient area. It will include related equipment for each area, as well as x-ray viewers, ventilators, EKG monitors, and other apparatuses.
A control room will be constructed to accommodate faculty and simulator technicians who will program the clinical scenarios and observe and video-record student performance, so that students can debrief with their professors and learn from their responses to patients' changing conditions.
Over $1 million of the $1.75 million cost of the project has already been secured and a fund drive is underway to raise the remaining funds needed, after which construction will begin.
Out-of-Class Programming and Cultural Events
The Venango Campus Intramurals and Recreation program launched two new club sports teams in 2010, a bowling team and an equestrian team, that are competing against other colleges and universities at a national level. The Venango Campus Bowling Team is a member of the United States Bowling Congress Collegiate (USBC), which offers the team the opportunity to compete at all NCAA division levels, against colleges and universities that offer full bowling scholarships. The Venango Campus Equestrian Team is a member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). The IHSA provides collegiate riders of all skill levels the opportunity to compete individually and as teams in equestrian competition.
The Clarion University-Venango Campus Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa was recently recognized for achieving Five Star Status, the organization's highest level of excellence. Phi Theta Kappa is an international honor society and the largest in American higher education.
The Venango Campus continues to be a center for educational and community events.
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 fourth annual Community History Days in June. Entitled "Flapjacks, Fiddles and Fancy Feet," the event featured historical seminars, a pancake breakfast, a fiddling concert, and a square dance, in addition to other entertainment, presentations, and house tours.
In February and September, the campus celebrated diversity in all its forms with "Dare to Care" events that included multi-cultural entertainment and lectures.
A featured speaker in September was Linda Hooper, the principal of a middle school in Tennessee who opened the eyes of her students to the horror of the Holocaust through "The Paper Clips Project," an idea that eventually touched a chord among Holocaust survivors, their families, and even world leaders and celebrities as word of the project spread.
Planning is now underway for a year-long celebration of the campus' 50th anniversary that will begin in fall 2011.
"Clarion University-Venango Campus has been providing life-changing opportunities for the residents of Venango County and the region for many years," said Dr. Reber. "Beginning this fall and continuing throughout the coming academic year, Venango Campus will salute the many people and organizations that have contributed to its growth and development. My colleagues and I are extremely grateful for the overwhelming support of the community and look forward to serving the residents of Venango County and beyond for many years to come."