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Why is Keystone College taking these steps?
As most of the Keystone College community is aware, colleges and universities today are in a very competitive environment. There has been a steadily declining number of high school students in the region, the state, and nation. Therefore, there has been, and will continue to be a declining number of high school graduates who are considering what college to attend. Going forward, we must be focused and prepared to act in this type of market. The actions we are taking, both in terms of our academic programs and the structure of our workforce, are being done with that in mind. Our goal is to align our resources and our academic programs to prepare students for success now and in the future.
Why specifically are fine arts and geology being impacted?
As we have stated, higher education has become increasingly competitive in recent years. As a result, colleges and universities across the nation are deciding what academic programs students are seeking to pursue as potential careers. Therefore, we felt it necessary to make sure that we have positioned our art and geology programs in such a way to prepare students for relevant and meaningful careers. We feel these moves are a very positive step in that direction.
Can students still graduate in degrees that are being phased out?
Yes. The bachelor degree programs in question will be phased out at the end of the 2023 academic year. This will allow current and incoming students to continue to pursue and obtain their four-year bachelor degrees in the impacted programs.
How have these changes positioned Keystone College for the future?
These changes are being made as part of a long-term and comprehensive approach to position Keystone College for the future. Nationwide, institutions of higher learning are facing increased challenges to attract and retain students from a decreasing population of potential students. At Keystone, we are positioning ourselves for the future by preparing our students for the relevant careers of today and tomorrow. That is why, for example, we are continuing to bolster our internship programs by increasing relationships with local, state, and national employers and why we recently began a new major in computer science, including artificial intelligence. Our goal is to continue to create career pathways that our students can follow not only while they are in college but long after they graduate.
Why is this plan taking place now?
We have spent many months looking at our entire academic program and faculty and staff alignment. As we complete our 150th anniversary year, we realize these changes should not be delayed. While they are painful, there is a sense of urgency to implement these changes.
Who will advise students impacted by the realignment?
Each student impacted will receive a notification of the changes. Students will always have an academic adviser to help guide them through their academic plan and that will continue to be the case for students impacted by this change.
With faculty members leaving, who will teach the majors being impacted?
All current students and incoming students who are pursuing the impacted degrees will still be able to pursue their bachelor degrees in those programs. Keystone will ensure that instruction in those programs continues at the highest levels using current full-time and adjunct faculty members.
What is the reasoning behind the faculty and staff furloughs?
Furloughing loyal and dedicated employees is absolutely the most difficult task any employer has to undertake. However, in our situation, this step was absolutely necessary, despite how painful this is for those involved. We undertook a detailed analysis of our overall staffing needs from both a faculty and staff perspective. We made the difficult choice to align our employee staffing at a level which will best suit our needs, and the needs of our students, going forward. Despite the furloughs, Keystone College is still one of the largest employers in the region, employing approximately 200 full time and 200 part time employees. All totaled, Keystone students and employees contribute approximately $13 million to the local and state economy each year.
Will there be additional faculty and staff furloughs?
Keystone, like all colleges and universities, periodically reviews its faculty and staffing needs.
Why did you choose to eliminate men’s and women’s tennis and golf?
Men’s and women’s golf and tennis have continued to experience declining participation levels for several years. After careful consideration, we felt it was necessary to focus on our 18 other varsity sports in an effort to make them as successful as possible.
How can Keystone afford to start a football program yet eliminate existing sports and academic programs?
The Keystone College football program is actually bringing new students to campus who likely would not have attended Keystone otherwise so it is an economic plus for the College. This fall, there will be approximately 60 new student–athletes on campus and that number is expected to increase to approximately 100 in the coming years.
Is this readjustment being made because of money being spent on the Keystone Commons development project?
Absolutely not. The Keystone Commons project is being built by a private developer and is being subsidized primarily through a $1.5 million state grant. Keystone will lease the property from the developer upon its completion. The Keystone Commons project is completely separate from the realignment steps currently being taken and does not impact it in any way.