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Board of Governors approves degree programs in respiratory care, acting

Contact: Kenn Marshall, (717) 720-4054 or (717) 329-0809
Harrisburg – The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education today approved a Bachelor of Science in respiratory care degree program to be offered by Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting degree program at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Both of the programs were designed to address growing needs for highly skilled and highly trained graduates in the workforce.
The American Association for Respiratory Care and the Commission for Accreditation for Respiratory Care both have indicated the need for a larger number of respiratory therapists with a bachelor’s degree in response to the increased need in standard of care.
Musical theater is the fastest-growing and most financially lucrative area of the theater profession, with opportunities available not only on Broadway, but also with the hundreds of touring productions that perform throughout the United States each year, as well as with cruise ships, dinner theaters, theme parks and international theater productions. Excelling in the profession requires highly specialized training in acting, singing and dancing, a key component of Slippery Rock’s new program.
“Our universities continue to be innovative in developing new programs that provide the knowledge and skills necessary for students to be successful in their lives and careers,” said State System Interim Chancellor Karen M. Whitney. “These new programs demonstrate the forward thinking needed to ensure an array of programming across the 14 universities that is at the leading edge.”
The bachelor’s degree program in respiratory care at Clarion will replace the university’s current associate degree program. It was designed to be completed in three years, which will enable graduates to enter the workforce a year sooner than those who enroll in traditional, four-year programs.
The new program will help fill the need for a larger number of respiratory therapists with baccalaureate degrees to serve as educators, researchers, managers, clinical specialists and in other roles throughout the healthcare system, including as respiratory care equipment and supplies sales representatives. All of the occupations are included on the current statewide and regional “high priority occupations lists” published by Pennsylvania’s Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.
The program will be offered beginning in fall 2018, and will be available both to traditional students, most of whom enroll in college for the first time right out of high school, as well as to already credentialed professionals who need the flexibility to complete their bachelor’s degree online.
Graduates of the program will be immediately eligible to sit for the national credentialing exams administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. Upper level courses being added to the program will provide students the higher-level knowledge and skills necessary to serve as respiratory therapists within a broadening field.
The bachelor’s degree in acting at Slippery Rock will provide not only the typical broad-based education in all aspects of theater, but also “the rigorous professional training in the skills needed by students who desire to enter directly into the competitive fields of regional theater and musical theater.”  The new program will offer that training using a focused “conservatory-style” approach.
A strong demand also exists for actor training in non-musical theater. Many theater students enter college with an express desire to work in “regional theater”—the umbrella term for the nation’s network of more than 2,000 non-profit urban theaters and Shakespeare festivals. The new program will include a separate concentration for these students, providing the necessary physical and vocal training, as well as the thorough and rigorous immersion in current acting technique that the profession requires.
The new program will be offered beginning in fall 2019.
For more information on either of the new programs, please contact the appropriate university.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, enrolling more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more in certificate and other career-development programs. Collectively, the 14 universities that comprise the State System offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. Nearly 520,000 State System university alumni live in Pennsylvania.
The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. The universities also operate branch campuses in Oil City (Clarion), Freeport and Punxsutawney (IUP), and Clearfield (Lock Haven), and offer classes and programs at several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and in Center City in Philadelphia.