Clarion University has renamed Venango College to the College of Health and Human Services, effective July 1, to better reflect the growing demand for the professional programs it offers and to better align the academic programs that exist on all of the university’s campuses.
"The name change from Venango College to College of Health and Human Services has been under consideration for months, and is an important step moving forward," said Dr. Todd Pfannestiel, interim provost. "It strengthens our credentials within that broad field and further permits us to market more directly to prospective students interested in coming to Clarion to study in those professional disciplines."
The College of Health and Human Services will house the departments of: communication sciences and disorders; human services, rehabilitation and health and sport sciences; nursing; and justice, law, technology and liberal arts. Classes are offered at Clarion's main and Venango campuses, as well as at the Pittsburgh site and online.
"We've introduced a great number of academic programs in health and human services, and we've greatly expanded our nursing program," said Clarion President Karen Whitney.
"In the past three years, Clarion has added bachelor's degrees in nutrition and fitness and in sports management, as well as a new master's in mental health counseling. Enrollment in those programs is soaring," Pfannestiel said. "In addition, we are exploring new credentials in respiratory care and athletic training. Simultaneously, our comprehensive credential ladder in nursing continues to grow in enrollment at all levels: ASN, RN-to-BSN, four-year BSN, MSN and DNP.
"Nursing programs are more in demand than ever, and the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is at capacity for 2016-17 and has already reached capacity for the 2017-18 school year," Whitney said. "In fact, in the past year, enrollment in the four-year BSN program has more than doubled, increasing from 73 to 157 students. Likewise, the RN-to-BSN completion program and the Master of Nursing show significant growth."
Although the BSN program is at capacity, Whitney encourages those interested in the program to explore other options, including the ASN and pre-nursing programs, which provide alternate avenues to enter the BSN program at a later date.
Other Clarion programs showing significant growth are library science; mass media arts, journalism and communication; biology; management; and early childhood/special education. Currently, 80 percent of Clarion's students are in professional programs, and that number is expected to grow to 95 percent in the next five years.
"We are sharpening our focus to what is needed and wanted in the working world," Whitney said.
"Students are coming to Clarion University for the degree and leaving prepared for a professional career," Pfannestiel said "We will continue to see greater emphasis on the fact that the vast majority of Clarion students enroll in professional degree programs in education, business and the health sciences, including nursing. As students make these decisions, we plan to focus our academic energies on those fields that prepare students for professions, here in Pennsylvania and beyond."
"That's the new Clarion," Whitney said. "We're a new Clarion that's emerging, and it's very exciting."
The name change also coincides with the launch of Clarion's national search to hire a founding dean of that college. That appointment is expected to begin later this summer.