Center for Fine Arts, New Programs Highlight Transformative Year for Saint Francis University


The Center for Fine Arts at Saint Francis University is the newest addition to the University’s portfolio of experiential, cross-disciplinary initiatives designed to benefit students of all majors, as well as to improve the quality of life for surrounding communities.

Dr. Daniel Atwood, the Director of SFU Bands, has been named director of the new center. Beginning with the spring 2019 semester, the Center for Fine Arts will bring together co-curricular activities such as theatre productions, art exhibits, marching band, pep band, and dance along with the academic offerings in theatre, music, and the visual arts.

“While the Fine Arts has a storied tradition at the University, the expansion of the program from an academic department formed 50 years ago into a full-blown center allows us to expand arts-related academic offerings in disciplines across the university as well as offer more community outreach efforts within the region,” stated Atwood.

The creation of the Center for Fine Arts was part of a larger university effort to re-imagine the academic school structure in a way that fosters collaboration and strengthens transformational student experiences. The center is administratively housed within the new School of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), yet its focus is to serve students of all majors, as well as the general public.

The Arts — including theatre, visual arts, music, dance and more broadly, humanities and language arts — have always been at the heart of an SFU education. With the formation of the new STEAM School, this “heart” is beating louder than ever. “Housing STEM, Arts, and Humanities programs in one collaborative school corresponds with the national movement toward STEAM educa­tion, an integrated way of learning embraced by incoming students, and we are thrilled to have the Center for Fine Arts as part of this new venture,” shared University President Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D.

The Fine Arts faculty envision a strong academic relationship with the STEAM School, as well as the Shields School of Business and the School of Health Sciences and Education, in terms of developing new curriculum that incorporates the arts. Many current students in diverse majors gravitate toward the arts as both a personal outlet and a potential professional advantage. The tie with healthcare is particularly strong with the university launching a new minor in music and wellness under the direction of Assistant Professor Jim Donovan. The Center’s faculty have a strong passion for exploring themes of healing through art, music and expressive therapy in future curriculum proposals.

Faculty also have plans to extend community engaged programming both on campus and off campus. The possibility of summer arts camps have been part of the brainstorming conversation.

The Center also exists as a physical space, a Fine Arts plaza which is adjacent to the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art on campus. The long-range vision for the plaza is to tie the two existing studio spaces, the Art Garage and the Boilerhouse Music, together with a future theatre building.

A grassroots effort by a passionate group of theatre alumni is underway to construct the Resinski Black Box Theatre, to be named after beloved director and drama professor Kenny Resinski, and his wife Bonnie who continues the Resinski legacy at SFU. This proposed 10,000-square-foot space would become an anchor building in the Fine Arts plaza. The plan includes a theatre space/drama lab for students involved in academic and co-curricular theatrical activities with other flexible spaces available for speakers, concerts, and lectures.

The University will host a formal “grand opening” event later in the spring semester. Those interested in information may visit Francis.edu/FineArtsCenter to learn more.

New Programs in Business Analytics, Aviation and More

Each year, the University introduces new academic programs to meet the growing demands from local and national employers in the healthcare, science, humanities and business fields. Here are the latest programs available to students enrolled at Saint Francis University:

Business Analytics: Beginning in Fall 2019, the Shields School of Business is launching a highly-anticipated Business Analytics program. The program will teach students how to use methods, tools, and software to transform data into information.

“Building upon a well-established, award-winning business program, we are very pleased to offer a business analytics program designed to develop students into analytics professionals that can fill the industry need and power data-driven business decisions,” said Dr. John Miko, Associate Dean of the Shields School of Business. “Students that enjoy mathematics, business, and working with the latest software tools will find the program rewarding as they develop highly-marketable and sought-after skills and abilities.”

According to recent studies, almost every job — in every industry — will touch data in some way. Students will have the skills to live anywhere, and apply their Business Analytics degree in many different job markets.

Business is becoming increasingly data-driven and employers are searching for individuals with the ability to transform data into information that can be utilized for organizational competitive advantage.

The BA program fits well with the existing curricula at SFU, and pairs nicely with other programs such as finance, accounting, and management information systems. Double majoring is popular at Shields, as many programs’ course requirement tend to overlap with others. Faculty mentors work with students to make it possible to complete two — and sometimes even three — degrees in just four years. Students who wish to also complete their MBA can choose the “Five-Year Fast-Track” curriculum and achieve both an undergraduate Business Analytics BS and a MBA in five years.

Aviation: The SFU Aviation Program, provided in coordination with Nulton Aviation Services at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, is designed to take a student with no past flight experience and train them such that they can fly, professionally, a single engine, land-based aircraft in a variety of flight conditions.

After just their first year with 40–50 flight hours, students will be able to obtain their Private Pilot License, giving them the legal capacity to fly an aircraft in clear conditions with passengers on their own. The students then go on to earn an add-on instrument rating to allow them to fly in less-than-ideal weather conditions. The final achievement is the Commercial Pilot’s license, requiring a minimum of 100 flight hours as a pilot in command, which includes previously-earned hours. Most students are able to successfully complete the program within three years.

The program began as a result of seed funding from a $1.9 million state multimodal grant awarded to the Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority. The funding is part of a workforce development initiative to stem a shortage of pilots nationwide as the Baby Boomer generation retires. The grant provides scholarship money for students who enroll in the program and also will assist the University in marketing it.

More New Programs

CyberSecurity Administration Major: The demand for expertise in the field of CyberSecurity is increasing rapidly and the number of job openings in this area is expected to triple over the next five years. To meet this growing need the Computer Science Department is now offering a major in CyberSecurity Administration. A Bachelor of Science in CyberSecurity Administration teaches students the fundamental concepts of CyberSecurity as well as practical skills in detecting, preventing, and investigating cyber attacks. Students with this degree may go on to work in IT departments, financial institutions, law enforcement, government agencies, or in private industry.

General Engineering Major: This four-year program will allow engineering majors to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. A small liberal arts school with a robust engineering department is a unique find. What sets SFU apart from Engineering programs at other schools are the opportunities to do hands-on research along with faculty mentors starting as early as your freshman year. SFU engineering students work on real-world projects funded by grants that many don’t get to experience until graduate school.

Energy Technology and Policy Minor: Students from any major interested in energy topics can complement their degree with a minor in Energy Technology and Policy. Students will learn the fundamentals of the energy industry and be capable of performing an assortment of different tasks within the industry. Graduates of the Energy Technology and Policy minor program will have opportunities to work for utilities, electric generating stations, renewable energy companies, energy distribution, research organizations, or as energy policymakers.

Special Education Certification for Secondary Education Majors: Secondary Education programs in Biology, Chemistry, English, Mathematics, Social Studies/History, and Spanish now allow for a dual-concentration program combining with Special Education. This additional certification will provide students an advantage in launching their career and in teaching in the future.

6 Years in a Row: 100% Nurse Licensure Exam Pass Rate

The number one ranked nursing program in Pennsylvania by RegisteredNursing.org has achieved yet another milestone.

Saint Francis University’s Nursing Program received notice from the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing that their 2019 National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) pass rate was 100 percent.

This news makes Saint Francis Nursing the only nursing program in the state to have a 100 percent first-time pass rate for the past five consecutive years.

“We are delighted by this accomplishment, and so grateful for all of the time and effort that the faculty, students, and administration have put forth in achieving such outstanding outcomes,” said Dr. Rita Trofino, DNP, MNEd, RN, who serves as the Nursing Department Chair and Associate Dean of the School of Health Sciences and Education.

According to Dr. Trofino and Dr. Kim Forst, BSN Program Director, job placement has been excellent, as 100 percent of graduates who seek professional employment within three months of graduation have jobs in the profession.

Additionally the SFU Physician Assistant Sciences, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy programs all achieved 100 percent licensure pass rates for their 2019 graduates.

SFU on Top 10 List of Pittsburgh Region Colleges with Highest Grad Incomes

The Pittsburgh Business Times published a list of colleges in the region whose graduates have the highest earning power, and SFU grads landed at #7 out of 36 in the region. Statewide SFU comes in at #34 out of more than 200 colleges. The ranking was based on the most-recent U.S. Department of Education data, released its 2018 College Scorecard — an in-depth look at the performance of virtually all colleges, universities and technical schools where students are eligible for financial aid around the country. The Pittsburgh Business Times searched the Scorecard for institutions in Pennsylvania and ranked them by the median earnings of former students 10 years after being admitted to the school. SFU students earned a median income of $52,200.