University to create sixth school for continuing education, certificate programs

Written By Erin Yudt, Editor-Elect

On Oct. 25, the Board of Trustees unanimously passed for the creation of a sixth school at the university, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.


The university currently has five schools: Rowland School of Business, School of Communication, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA). 


The idea stemmed from the school “outgrowing online programming” over the last several months, according to Michael Soto, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.


“Our online options serve a different purpose, as these are more non-traditional students,” Soto said. “Creating this school will give them the option to take some certificate classes in person and meet the workforce needs in Pittsburgh.”


However, these certificate programs will also be offered to traditional, in-person students.


“Traditional, on-ground students will benefit from this [the new school] as well,” Soto said. “Each one of the existing schools will have programs. These will be more bite-sized versions of majors and can open a lot of different avenues for all students.”


The university will still offer full undergraduate and graduate programs online, but the office of online education will be undertaking this new school as well. The current office for online education is at 101 Wood St., the green building across from the Point Perk. 


“We have some ideas about organization and have a dean, chair and programming director in mind,” Soto said. “Most likely, the online office will move somewhere more convenient on campus for students to access better, and their positions will be updated to their existing and new responsibilities… We are always flexible and will make changes to the structure [of the school] as needed.”


Current professors and instructors for the online education program will be taking on the instruction of these certificate programs, which will begin being offered in the spring semester.


These certificate programs will be provided in four-course clusters, separate from minors and majors. Depending on the certificate, 15 to 24 credits will be needed to complete the program. Some examples of certificate options include data and analytics, cyber security, and narrative storytelling. 


Julianne Bailey, sophomore legal studies major, is “hopeful” for the new school.


“The new school is smart because some of the majors here need certificates in order for them to work professionally,” Bailey said. “The fact that we don’t offer these things already is kinda dumb, but hopefully this will draw in more money and be better for students overall.”


Kairi Stallsmith, sophomore secondary education with a history focus major, has a different approach.


“Again, this is another thing where the School of Education barely gets anything,” Stallsmith said. “Why not focus on adding things to the other schools because COPA is the only one that gets attention rather than open a new school altogether? It just seems like we’re trying to play catch up to Pitt and Duquesne.”


Mason Hedge, junior theater arts major, has a similar outlook.


“I’m glad the school is taking steps to open their education walls, but is it really going to be worth it in the end?” Hedge said. “It just seems like they’re adding too much on their plate.”


Bryce Hayzlett, senior intelligence major, feels likewise.


“What really is the point?” Hayzlett said. “The school doesn’t even offer my major anymore. They keep restructuring programs, so what is the point of adding a new school? It just seems like a money grab and not really solving the real problems of the school.”


No official announcement has been made about the new school, but the resolution passed by the Board of Trustees, obtained by The Globe from Soto, is as follows:


“Point Park University, Resolution 21-2022, RE: School of Continuing & Professional Studies


WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of Point Park University is entrusted with ensuring University fiscal integrity and establishing new degree programs; and 


WHEREAS, fulfilling the Mission of the University requires sophisticated approaches to teaching and learning; and


WHEREAS, Point Park University emerged as an early adopter of and industry leader in dynamic online instruction; and


WHEREAS, thriving online and continuing studies programs are essential to the future well-being of the University and a flourishing professional workforce;


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board establishes the School of Continuing & Professional Studies and confers upon the School the authority to develop innovative undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree credential programs.”


The new school plans to launch this upcoming spring semester.