La Plume – Keystone College has announced several changes to better position the institution as it prepares students for success.
Keystone officials stressed the changes are being made as part of a long-term and comprehensive approach for the present and the future. Nationwide, institutions of higher education are facing increased challenges. Colleges and universities that prepare students for meaningful careers will be in a better position to succeed in the decades to come. As an example, the college has recently introduced a new computer science major which features an artificial intelligence component. Keystone has continued to invest in programs such as business, wildlife biology, and criminal justice and has also bolstered its internship program by increasing relationships with employers.
The most notable academic changes deal with the college’s visual arts and geology programs, which will evolve to provide students with more marketable career skills in those specific areas.
The traditional visual arts program will transition to a program focused more directly on digital media, a degree which is especially relevant in today’s work environment. Fine arts courses will continue to be offered. Similarly, the geology program will transition to become part of the current bachelor’s degree program in environmental science to provide students with a broader and more relevant range of career options. Individual geology courses will continue to be offered as part of the environmental science major.
It is important to note that academic degree programs in art and geology will continue until the 2023 academic year to allow current and incoming students to complete their four-year bachelor’s degrees in both programs.
The college also announced that it will be eliminating its men’s and women’s golf and tennis programs due to decreasing student participation levels in those sports. At the same time, enrollment of student-athletes for Keystone’s varsity football program is expected to be around 60, exceeding initial expectations.
In another move designed to better align Keystone with current and future needs, the college will reduce its staff by 12 positions and four faculty positions.
While these decisions are difficult to make, Keystone will remain one of the area’s largest employers with 200 full-time and 200 part-time employees, including adjunct faculty.
Keystone also remains a major economic force in the region. An estimated $400,000 is injected into the local economy through student spending alone. Of that total, about $100,000 is spent in the Factoryville/La Plume area. All totaled, Keystone College, its students, and employees contribute approximately $13 million to the local and state economy each year. During the last 10 years, Keystone’s total economic impact to the state and local economy has been more than $150 million.
College officials said they are making the staff and faculty changes in order to allocate resources to support students and align faculty and staffing needs as it prepares for the future following its 150th anniversary during the 2018-2019 academic year.
“Certainly, it is always an extremely difficult decision to furlough employees who have worked so hard and performed so well to make Keystone College what is has become today,” said Keystone College President Tracy L. Brundage, Ph.D. “However, educational institutions throughout the state and the nation are facing a more challenging environment than ever due to the decline in the numbers of available college students both now and projected into the future. As a result, we spent several months engaging the campus community in conversations regarding how to best align our college to better serve our students and become even more relevant in the degrees and programs we offer.”
Founded in 1868 and enrolling more than 1,300 students, Keystone offers about 38 undergraduate and graduate degree options in liberal arts and science-based programs Located in La Plume, Pa., 15 minutes from Scranton and two hours from New York City and Philadelphia, Keystone is known for small class sizes and individual attention focused on student success through internships, research, and community involvement.