Four new bachelor's degree programs announced

Students have a choice of four new majors when they attend Penn State Hazleton.

The majors in Administration of Justice, Corporate Communication, Rehabilitation and Human Services, and an Accounting option for the Business degree prepare students for fields in which job openings are growing.

Overall, Penn State Hazleton now offers nine majors in which students can earn bachelor's degrees.

Whether they stay for four years or study two years before completing degrees at another Penn State campus, students share the benefits that Penn State Hazleton offers.

At the campus, the laboratories and classrooms in the Kostos Building are expected to receive a $14 million overhaul. The project to renovate and re-equip the building will start in 2016 pending final approval by the university's board of trustees, Dr. Gary Lawler, chancellor of Penn State Hazleton, said.

While investing in facilities and course offerings, Penn State Hazleton offers value to students. Tuition costs less than at University Park, and students from greater Hazleton save on room and board while living at home. Adults can continue working while gaining skills or earning a degree at Penn State Hazleton.

Last year, Penn State Hazleton provided more than $1 million in scholarships, most of which goes to students from the Hazleton region, Lawler said.

The campus is small enough that students in their first and second years can join professors in research opportunities that might not be available until their third or fourth year at other colleges or universities.

"We're so proud that so many have a chance to do undergraduate research," Dr. Elizabeth Wright, the director of academic affairs at Penn State Hazleton, said.

Much of that research occurs in laboratories at the Kostos Building, where the proposed renovation will add to an array of scientific equipment available now. Redesigns of the laboratories will place hoods and equipment on the perimeter, opening the center of the rooms so students and professors can see eye-to-eye during instruction.

Engineering labs will have work areas where students can leave projects that they're perfecting from semester to semester, and classrooms will become more conducive to collaboration.

"We're really trying to create learning spaces that are going to be attractive to the 21st century student," Dr. Lawler said.

Students come to the campus primarily from Pennsylvania, but up to one-third of them in any year hail from other states, principally the New York metro area. This fall, Dr. Wright attended the Big Apple College Fair in New York City while Dr. Lawler met prospective students in Connecticut.

Penn State Hazleton also has welcomed students from nations such as France, Norway and India.

Early in 2015, Dr. Lawler plans to visit the University of Pune, India, as part of Penn State University's global engagement program. He will encourage students at Pune to participate in exchanges anywhere within Penn State's Commonwealth Campuses, including Hazleton.

About 20 percent of students attending Hazleton stay for a four-year degree. "That number is steadily growing," Lawler said.

Some students begin at a different campus and come to Hazleton to finish work on bachelor's degrees, particularly in Psychology or the Engineering degree focused on alternative energy and power generation that no other Penn State campus offers.

Through the 2 + 2 plan, students can choose from 160 majors, spend their first two years at Penn State Hazleton and select the appropriate Penn State campus, including University Park, for their final two years of study.

Because new majors are bringing them to campus for four years, students have more time to develop leadership and mentor younger students while at Penn State Hazleton.

Dante Toth, who will be among the first students to earn a degree in Administration of Justice, expected to stay for four years when he enrolled at Penn State Hazleton. He majored in Letters, Arts, and Sciences initially but switched when the Administration of Justice program began. While at Penn State Hazleton, he has participated in student government and introduced prospective students to campus while giving tours as a Lion Ambassador.

"Being here for four years has given me insight into the Hazleton campus through not only the good amount of time that I have been here, but through speaking with all the staff and faculty that have given me guidance along the way. Their guidance has been valuable to say the least, and I use their examples of leadership and campus pride as my own standard for how I would advise any younger student that comes to this campus," Toth said.

In turn, the campus mentors four-year students like Toth with services to help them explore careers. An internship coordinator hired a year ago for four campuses searches northeastern Pennsylvania for places where students can obtain on-the-job training that meshes with their career goals.

Career opportunities were a major factor that professors and administrators considered when deciding what new majors to offer at Penn State Hazleton.

The process started 18 months ago with suggestions from the faculty. They looked at what majors were available at other Penn State campuses and nearby colleges and reviewed the demand for jobs in the majors.

Research commissioned from the Penn State Data Center solidified findings as the proposals moved to the academic council of undergraduate education, the vice presidents of the Commonwealth Campuses and of Undergraduate Education and to the university's provost.

"We really looked at the job outlook," Dr. Wright said.

Dr. Lawler said the new majors all are "career-focused."

Students majoring in Administration of Justice might work as police at any level of government as well as enter careers in private security, corrections or parole. They could major in Administration of Justice to prepare for advanced degrees in law, criminology or public policy.

Dr. Pamela Black came to Hazleton to coordinate the program, just as she had done for the previous 15 years at Penn State Schuylkill.

"She knows exactly what to do," Dr. Wright said.

The Business with accounting option and Corporate Communication majors prep students for careers in business. Paul McDermott, who spent 35 years in business before coming to campus, will oversee the programs, as he does for the bachelor's degree in Business with management/marketing  and individualized options.

The Accounting option appeals to students who want to work with numbers. Penn State Hazleton plans to add post-graduate courses for students who wish to take the state exam to become certified public accountants.

Students who major in Corporate Communication will improve in public speaking, writing and use of visual communication. Also they will take core courses in business, information technology and psychology.

The curriculum will prepare them for marketing, management, human relations and public relations.

Students who want to help others will consider majoring in Rehabilitation and Human Services.

The major readies students for entry-level jobs in human services, a field in which they could work with any age group. The types of services that students one day might offer are equally broad, whether they help people with the mental, physical, social or emotional aspects of their lives; support them as they go to school or work; or help them cope with physical or chemical abuse.

Dr. Lorie Kramer will guide them while drawing on the 22 years that she spent as an adolescent counselor, therapist and psychology instructor before coming to Hazleton to launch the program.

While Drs. Kramer and Black and others arrived at Penn State Hazleton for the start of the new programs, faculty and administrators who have spent years on campus also have contributed.

"One of the things it's wonderful to see," Dr. Wright said, "is some of the faculty developed new courses for the new degrees. It creates more opportunities for all students."