SRU’s Rock Life program to undergo restructuring
Nov. 8, 2021
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa.— Slippery Rock University's Rock Life program, which provides students with intellectual or developmental disabilities a path to competitive employment and lifelong wellness, is being restructured. Following the retirement of the program's founding director, the University has an opportunity to fully assess the program to enhance services and identify additional funding sources.
Now in its fifth year, Rock Life is one of more than 250 such programs in the United States where students with intellectual or developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, take classes without earning credit plus experience college, and earn a non-degree credential after completing two or four years. At any given time, SRU's Rock Life program serves approximately 20 students.
"Our Rock Life program fulfills a tremendously important role in the lives of these students. Its impact has been felt not only by the students in the program, but also by the entire campus community," said SRU President William Behre. "I am proud of the hard work our faculty and staff do every day. The program has a strong foundation, but it's time we grow it into an exemplary one that's more sustainable over the long-term."
This restructuring will involve bringing in external consultants to evaluate the program offerings and identify areas of strength and for improvement, including opportunities for curricular expansion and funding opportunities.
During this analysis period, Rock Life admissions will be suspended for one year. The current Rock Life curriculum will phase out in spring 2023. Until that time, there are no planned changes that will affect students, faculty, staff and coaches currently involved in the Rock Life program. All currently enrolled students will be able to continue the program as intended, with access to all support services they have now.
"The Rock Life program can't survive solely on grants and donations. We need to determine a structure that allows us to fund the program with a combination of tuition, fees, grants, and federal and state funding," said Behre. "I'm optimistic that the analysis we're going to be undertaking will provide us with a way forward that not only keeps Rock Life a viable program, but improves it, now and for many years into the future."
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