NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Educational opportunities abound at Penn State New Kensington. And not for just traditional college students. A lifetime of learning at the campus encompasses youths, teens and adult learners.
Kevin Snider, chancellor of the campus, committed to offering learning opportunities that are accessible to people of all ages and cultures. Campus resources are available through a variety of programs offered throughout the year.
During the summer, elementary school youths and secondary school teenagers can stay active and have fun while keeping an academic edge with the Kids in College program. During the school year, middle school girls can learn about careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields from women in those professions. High school juniors and seniors interested in higher education can sample campus life at a variety of admissions workshops, seminars and visits. They can prep for SAT with a review course. Students who want to get a head start on their post-secondary careers can take courses and earn college credits at the campus.
Once on campus, traditional (18-24-year-olds) and nontraditional (24 years and older) students can avail themselves of an array of resources. The bachelor’s and associate degree programs, as well as the 2+2 plan, serve as blueprints for future vocations. Global programs add a touch of international experiences. Career services help students with job searches and internships.
The Continuing Education office at Penn State New Kensington offers educational choices for adult learners. Those who want a master’s degree can enroll in MBA in Pittsburgh, a part-time, blended delivery program. Credit and noncredit professional development courses are designed for individuals already in the workforce. CE also offers employee development courses to numerous businesses, either on-campus or at the place of business.
Penn State alumni living in the Alle-Kiski Valley can stay connected to the campus and University through the Penn State New Kensington Alumni Society. The resources of Career Services also are available to alumni.
The campus reaches out to residents of southwestern Pennsylvania through many cultural and entertainment events, as well as recycling programs. The library is accessible to the public. Initiatives to revitalize local business districts are at the forefront of the chancellor’s efforts to rejuvenate downtown New Kensington.
Since 1958, Penn State New Kensington has been a beacon for residents in the Alle-Kiski Valley. Buoyed by the commitment of business leaders, the campus and community have worked together to educate generations of students and tailor a curriculum to supply industry with a quality workforce.
However, the campus’ presence is not limited to educating students. In addition to its mission of teaching, research and service, the New Kensington campus raises the quality of life in the local area by serving as an agent of change in the community, and a partner with the businesses in the region. A community with a Penn State campus is a community with a vibrant future.
STEM and STEAM
Since 2009, the campus has integrated the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into its programming for students in grades 1 to 12. A creative arts component was added in 2014, turning STEM into STEAM. A nationwide effort, STEAM prepares students for a competitive world through a strategy of enhanced education and career development opportunities. New Kensington offers STEAM in its Kids in College and COMETS programs.
“For the past 28 years, Penn State New Kensington has offered a world of opportunities for our youth,” said Pat Hollinger, director of continuing education. “Our Kids in College camps have allowed children to have fun and explore art, sports, theater, cooking, science and languages. We welcome all students to spend some of their summer with us.”
Kids in College
Young students' imaginations soar each summer with the Kids in College program, a variety of academic and sports activities. More than 400 youths participate annually in the hands-on camps, which run from June to August.
Courses on Math, Engineering, Technology and Science, also known as COMETS, targets seventh- and eighth-grade girls who have an interest in the STEM fields. Volunteer mentors, drawn from Penn State alumna and friends in STEM-related professions, share their experiences on career opportunities in their fields. Mentors are assigned to students and hold weekly online sessions of 20-30 minutes with their mentees. The eight-month program begins in the fall and features demonstrations, projects and a monthly “Saturday Brunch” series. Over 50 students from local public school districts and private schools participate in the program.
SAT Prep Course
Students preparing for college entrance exams can review the campus’ SAT review course, offered on six consecutive Saturdays in the fall and spring. The course provides students with a suggested plan of study and timed practices for the mathematics, critical reading, and writing and language sections of the test.
After learning the physics and engineering aspects of rockets, children (grades 4-8) in the Penn State New Kensington’s Kid in College rocketry class constructed and launched their own model rockets on the campus multi-purpose field.
Open houses, application days, and "Be a New Kensington Student for a Day" activities are just a few of the admissions events held throughout the year at the campus. Visiting the campus is the best way for students pursuing higher education to make a college decision. The events highlight the advantages of choosing Penn State New Kensington.
“We’re always happy when prospective students and their families visit our campus,” said patty Brady, director of enrollment management. “We are proud of our excellent facilities, the quality of our faculty and the friendliness of our staff. It’s wonderful when students realize how much we have to offer them.”
B.J. Rayburg, a former campus student and Penn State graduate, accompanied his daughter, Julia, a senior at St. Joseph High School, to the fall 2016 open house. Both were so impressed with the New Kensington campus’ academic programs that Julia applied for admission that day and will begin her collegiate career at the campus in fall 2017.
“The atmosphere at the open house was very informative and welcoming,” said B.J, who matriculated at the campus in 1978. “I want my daughter to have the same experience that I had at the campus. The great professors and small class sizes are conducive to learning.”
Dual Enrollment program
The Dual Enrollment program offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to take college courses at a 50 percent tuition reduction. The program enables students to get a jump on their college careers by earning college credits while still in high school. Students can choose from a variety of Penn State courses offered during the fall, spring or summer semesters.
While attending Plum High School, Matthew Saeger took courses at New Kensington and other colleges. He received both secondary and postsecondary credit for the coursework.
“I like being treated like an adult, with the freedom and the responsibility,” said Saeger, who was senior at the time. “The program exposed to me what college classes are really like. I enjoy being challenged and love the atmosphere of college.”
The result for Saeger was 23 college credits and acceptance into the campus’ Information Sciences and Technology (IST) program in the fall 2013 as a full-time student. He graduated three and a half years later with a bachelor’s degree.
The campus offers 10 bachelor’s and five associate degree programs. More than 80 percent of New Kensington students are enrolled in a four-year degree program, with engineering being the most popular major. The remaining 20 percent are on track for an associate degree, with radiological sciences the top choice.
"Our academic programming encompasses a wide range of options for students, from engineering technology and information technology to a range of degrees in fields such as business and communications,” said Andrea Adolph, director of academic affairs. “We began offering two new degrees this fall that are targeted to the needs of the region — Project and Supply Chain Management, and Biobehavioral Health — and these are already popular with our students. We've recently hired new faculty members in support of these majors, and they join our already strong, award-winning faculty to move our new initiatives forward.”
The bachelor’s degrees are: Administration of Justice (B.S.); Biobehavioral Health (B.S.); Business (B.S.); Communications (B.A.); Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (B.S.); Information Sciences and Technology (B.S.); Nursing (RN to BS); Project and Supply Chain Management (B.S.); Psychology (B.A.); and Psychology (B.S.).
The associate degrees are: Biomedical Engineering Technology; Business; Information Sciences and Technology; Letters, Arts and Sciences; and Radiological Sciences.
“Our four-year degrees in business and IST can be completed in the evening, as well, which allows students who work during the day to complete their Penn State degrees in a way that is convenient to their schedules," Adolph said.
Campus students have the opportunity to start their major at one campus and transition to another campus to finish. Called the "2+2 Plan," it is the most common path to a Penn State degree. More than 50 percent of Penn State students choose this route each year, and it is available for the vast majority of majors.
For Josh Barry, a 2014 Penn State graduate, starting at Penn State New Kensington and finishing at Penn State University Park was the perfect strategy for optimizing his undergraduate studies.
“The quality of education at PSNK [Penn State New Kensington] is stellar,” Barry said. “Once I moved to State College, I was already prepared to work at the level I needed to, as PSNK already gave me that experience. I would strongly argue that the classes at PSNK challenged me more intellectually than at State College.”
Penn State Global Programs provides students with a variety of opportunities to study in foreign lands for varying periods of time — a week, summer, semester or full year. The objective is to offer students a broader education than can be obtained through classroom experiences. Students have studied in Ireland, the Netherlands and Mozambique. Others have taken weeklong educational trips to Spain, France, Italy, China, Greece, Peru, Galapagos Islands, Ireland and Thailand. For the past nine years, the campus has embarked on the promotion of greater awareness and understanding of world issues, international trends and global policy debates. Each year, the campus adopts a country or region of the world to inspire teaching and scholarship. Brazil is this year’s “Country of Focus.”
Through career planning, education, and job search support services, Career Services helps students and alumni achieve their career goals. The staff works with students and employers on internships and job fairs. Penn State Days, Leader Launch, WestPACS and the Alle-Kiski Job Fair are some of the career events designed to help recent and soon-to-be graduates get started in a career in the workforce.
Transitioning from learning in the classroom to training for a career is the focus of the annual Leader Launch conference. Jennifer Phillips, a 2015 graduate from the psychology program, attended the inaugural 2014 conference as a third-year student. She was getting ready for life after a bachelor’s degree and seeking to improve her ability to look and act professional.
“Leader Launch was a really worthwhile and valuable experience, where I gained useful new skills to use in my search for both an internship and a career,” Phillips said. “It was an excellent networking opportunity and learning experience. I especially liked the panel of business men and women who were able to give us direct feedback on what employers are looking for while answering questions from the audience.”
The New Kensington Green Paws program features students, faculty and staff volunteers committed to reducing waste and exploring ways to use resources responsibly. The program features three environmentally friendly, water-bottle refilling stations located around the campus. The stations are designed to decrease the use of plastic bottles and alleviate the amount of trash that would wind up in landfills. In addition, recycling/trash centers in Café 780 handle for pre- and post-consumption food waste.
Programs for professionals
The campus’ Continuing Education office provides professional and personal development courses and seminars to meet the specific needs of businesses and nonprofit organizations. The resources of a world-renowned teaching and research University are available on- or off-campus.
“Learning does last a lifetime and in order to keep your current skills sharp and upgraded, professional development is necessary,” Hollinger said. “It is critical to remain up-to-date on the latest trends and skills so that you can advance and climb the career ladder. We can help individuals or corporations get their employees to the next step.”
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Penn State New Kensington, in partnership with Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, offers an AACSB international-accredited flex MBA program in Pittsburgh, using a hybrid program of online learning and classroom instruction at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry Township. A part-time program, the degree can be completed in nine semesters.
Karen Harlan, multimedia specialist at the campus, is a 2015 graduate of the Pittsburgh program. She chose the MBA program because the core courses, like leadership, ethics, marketing, and quantitative analysis, and electives, such as project management and human-computer interaction, were relevant to her current position. She chose the MBA in Pittsburgh program because of its hybrid delivery.
“I was looking for an accredited program in Pittsburgh that was not exclusively online,” said Harlan, a member of the program’s first graduating class. “Since I was already familiar with Penn State’s quality academic programs and wonderful alumni network, enrolling in the Cranberry MBA was an easy decision. Monthly meetings at the RLA allowed me to get to know my classmates, which doesn’t happen in an online-only program.”
Engineering review programs
Review programs for Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineer (PE) are customized and brought on-site to the workplace.
If a company’s employees need supervisory training, computer courses, or assistance with technical problems, the Continuing Education office can fulfill the needs with its array of professional development programs.
Services for companies
Penn State New Kensington has a long history of working with business and industry in the region. The campus offers many services to help companies develop their workforce and their competitive advantage. Adjunct faculty and staff partner with organizations to assess immediate and long-term needs, and custom design and implement training solutions to satisfy them.
To strengthen the business environment of the commonwealth, WEDnet PA (Workforce and Economic Development Network of PA) offers free training to eligible manufacturing companies. A qualified business can access funds for training for basic skills, as well as information technology.
Penn State New Kensington Alumni Society
Based at the New Kensington campus, the alumni society engages in various campus and alumni projects throughout the year, including a bowlathon in the spring and a golf tournament in the summer. The society interacts with former and current students by sponsoring social events and other networking activities. Board members are active on campus. They serve as a resource at many student functions, including admissions events, where they to talk with prospective students, and career events, where they discuss job opportunities with soon-to-be graduates. The society represents more than 7,000 alumni living in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
See "Career Services" under "Campus Students," above.
Because of Penn State’s status as a state-related institution, and its strong community service commitment, the resources of Elisabeth S. Blissell Library are available for use by the general public, free of charge. The system-wide resources include government documents and online databases. In a partnership between University Libraries and the Penn State Alumni Association, PSAA members retain access to several Libraries databases, to support lifetime learning, through the Alumni Library online.
Each month, the campus Art Gallery features the multi-media works of local and regional artists. The exhibits are free to the public. The works of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Eddie Adams, including his world-famous “Saigon Execution,” were on display for four months during summer 2016. “Paintings” by Bud Gibbons, professor emeritus of visual arts at the campus, is an annual exhibit.
Diversity and inclusion
“All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion,” is a University-wide initiative that brings students, faculty and staff together to show their commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment — respectful of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, abilities, background, veteran’s status, political beliefs, and all the ways we differ. Diversity events at the New Kensington campus are slated throughout the year, including the MLK Unity Week celebrations, Country of Focus activities, and community service projects.
Prospective employees can explore career options at the annual Alle-Kiski Job Fair. Job-seekers can interview with regional companies regarding employment opportunities in a variety of fields, including health care, finance, retail and manufacturing.
Penn State New Kensington hosts guest speakers, performing artists and stage productions during the fall and spring semesters. An outdoor movie series, “Summer BBQ and Drive-in Movie,” takes over during the summer. In keeping with Chancellor Kevin Snider’s vision of bringing together the campus and community, the movies are free to the public and geared to families. Alyssa Pistininzi of New Kensington attended the screenings of “The Jungle Book” and “Zootopia” last summer with her husband and two daughters.
“We had a fantastic time with great food, great people and a great movie combining to make a great memory,” Pistinizi said. “It was a wonderful, nostalgic way to spend a beautiful summer night."
The campus implemented single-stream recycling seven years ago to provide a fast, easy and efficient way for students, faculty and staff, as well as local residents, to recycle without the hassle of sorting recycled materials. Single-stream recycling allows end-users to discard plastics, paper and cans into one container. Dumpsters are located behind the Athletics Center and in the lower parking lot behind the Science and Technology Building.
The Penn State Entrepreneur Center, also known as "The Corner," is a collaboration of students, faculty and staff working with businesses and communities in the region. The center is funded by a $150,000 grant from Invent Penn State, a new program that brings together Penn State’s intellectual resources, alumni, private and public businesses and investors to support the efforts.
Poverty is at the forefront of the chancellor’s initiatives to help revive western Pennsylvania communities. He created a campus Poverty Committee tasked with collaborating with nonprofit organizations to assist with poverty-related programs.