Three students are sitting at a table in the campus' Great Hall area and are speaking with the the campus director and a faculty member.

Building from a solid foundation

Campus Director Dr. Jo Anne Carrick takes us through the highlights and progress at Penn State Shenango in 2017. The campus saw major plans unfold as Shenango continued to grow through support, collaboration, and a strong foundation.

By: Jo Anne Carrick

Have you ever been impatient waiting for something to happen, and, while waiting, felt like the time dragged by so very slowly? While patience is truly a virtue, I have learned over the course of my life and career that there are some things we cannot change no matter how patient we are, and for those things we can change, the amount of time required will vary tremendously. I have also realized that the magnitude of the change and the number of people who will be impacted increase the time to completion exponentially However, by laying a strong foundation and building the needed support and engagement, over time, you will surely begin to see progress.

At Penn State Shenango, we began building a solid foundation for many great plans for our campus and the community. This past year, a number of those plans have started to transpire, which has generated a lot of excitement. In April, we announced the re-establishment of the campus’ athletic program and began to execute our plan. We hired Andre Smith, a Youngstown State University basketball standout, who returned to the area to assume the position of our athletic director. Andre has been working very hard to recruit students for our first sport—men’s basketball. In addition, we continued to work with the Buhl Community Recreation Center’s administration to establish an agreement for upgrades and use of their facility for our athletic program. Next fall, we will launch men’s basketball, and, in 2019, we will add women’s volleyball to our athletic portfolio.

Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of this past year was our VenturePointe incubator’s official ribbon cutting ceremony on August 11, at the eCenter@LindenPointe. Penn State President Dr. Eric Barron, and other University administration and staff, were in attendance and spoke to government officials and members of the local community about Penn State’s commitment to the economic growth of our community, region, and state. Our VenturePointe incubator was launched in 2016 thanks to a $50,000 seed grant awarded to the Shenango campus from the Invent Penn State Initiative program. During the past year, the campus has gained a lot of momentum at VenturePointe, and we currently occupy a co-working suite and have two recent Shenango campus graduates working on the startup of their businesses. This past summer, we worked with the eAcademy high school entrepreneurship program to align their curriculum with the courses in our Business program—giving these students the opportunity to earn college credits for the classes they take in the eAcademy program.

During the fall semester, the Shenango campus hosted 15 law enforcement officers from area police departments, the Mercer County Jail and the Pa. Board of Probation Parole at the downtown Sharon campus for a weeklong Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training workshop made possible through a $57,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD). The workshop was one of three components of a grant proposal submitted last year by the Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB) of the county’s Juvenile Probations Office.

The second component of the grant proposal involved hiring a CJAB coordinator, while the third element included the collaboration with Shenango faculty members Dr. Steven Brewer, assistant professor of administration of justice, and Roxanne Atterholt, instructor in human development and family studies, to provide the collection and analysis of data of the Mercer County criminal justice system. Through CJAB’s grant, Penn State Shenango was the recipient of a $41,106 sub-grant from PCCD to complete their role in collecting and analyzing the necessary data that will provide a comprehensive report on Mercer County’s needs, as well as drive the development of evidence-based prevention and intervention initiatives.

Over the last several months, Steven and Roxanne have been working with Behavioral Health Commission, Mercer County 911, the Mercer County Jail, and the Board of Probation and Parole, to collect the necessary data which they will analyze and include in a report to the PCCD.

Also this fall, we announced that Penn State Shenango would become a host campus for Penn State’s College of Nursing master of nursing degree with options in Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. The courses will be delivered through technology and online, with clinical practices held locally in partnership with Primary Health Network (PHN). We are delighted to expand our nursing degree offerings at the Shenango campus, which allow nurses in our community the opportunity to achieve their graduate program degree.

In closing, we are pleased to report that many of the initiatives that we outlined in our 2014 Strategic Plan are gaining momentum, and our collaborations with members of our community continue to develop. We look forward to achieving further progress on ongoing initiatives that are in the early stages and are hopeful that we have laid a good foundation for growth. One thing never changes, however: Penn State Shenango remains committed to providing our community with the best Penn State educational experience we can offer.