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Responding to market demands, SRU’s council of trustees sends two new degree programs to the State System board of governors for review.

SRU trustees green light two programs


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Students at Slippery Rock University could soon be catching the wave of expanding career opportunities in the petroleum and natural gas industries and professional dance fields, as the result of the Council of Trustees vote to send two proposed majors to the State System's board of governors for approval.


Trustees, at their quarterly meeting, gave the University the "green light" to forward a proposed bachelor of fine arts degree in dance, and a bachelor of science in petroleum and natural gas engineering. The board of governors will review the programs at their July 8-9 meeting.

The proposed bachelor of fine arts degree in dance is designed specifically for students seeking multilayered careers as dance professionals and will provide students with the advanced training needed to pursue performing, choreography, technology and teaching careers in dance, Ursula Payne, chair of the dance department, told the trustees. Although the University currently offers an accredited liberal arts degree with a major in dance, "The BFA," she said, "Is considered the foremost professional degree credential for undergraduate students seeking professional dance careers."

The BFA will appeal to a number of audiences, she said, including: "Students who do not currently consider SRU as an institution of choice because we do not offer the degree; professional dancers looking to transition into teaching and/or dance studio ownership; and international students."

"Plus," she said, "according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 13 percent increase in demand for dancers and choreographers through 2022."


If approved by the BOG, the proposed BFA in dance with advanced training in choreography and performance, studies in digital technology and business would be the first in the State System. The program would begin in fall 2016.

The proposed bachelor of science degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering has been designed to provide graduates with the knowledge and capabilities required to successfully practice as petroleum and natural gas engineers and to meet Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology engineering accreditation requirements," Alhula Herat, associate professor in physics and pre-engineering, told the trustees.

"Petroleum and natural gas engineers are responsible for discovery, extraction, transportation and refinement of natural gas and oil resources," he said.

"Career opportunities abound," Herat said, "Including drilling engineers, production engineers, reservoir engineers, marketing engineers and research scientists." The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 26 percent increase in petroleum and natural gas engineering jobs in the U.S. by 2022.

In order to meet the rigorous ABET accreditation requirement, the proposed program requires a total of 128 credit hours of coursework. The BOG currently limits undergraduate degree program requirements to 120 credit hours, he said, so before the new degree could be approved, the BOG would have to allow an exception to that rule.

As the need for petroleum engineers has increased, PNGE program enrollments have significantly risen. "Because of the cost of these programs, we're not seeing other universities greatly expanding their programs, rather admission to these programs is becoming more competitive," Herat said.

"Even though students in SRU's PNGE program would have to pay a $4,000 program fee, because of the University's location, access to industry engineers, teaching focus and faculty, we can offer this degree at a substantially lower in-state cost than other programs in the region, including Penn State, West Virginia University and Mareitta College," Herat said.

If approved by the BOG, the program is slated to begin fall 2016.

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