Karen Scolforo, who became Central Penn College's ninth president Aug. 12, recently answered some questions for the Business Journal.
Q: What do you see as a college's role in the community?
A: First and foremost, I believe that the Central Penn College community is responsible for, and expected to model, good citizenship and a commitment to service. Our students must fulfill a community service requirement in order to graduate.
The role of Central Penn College in its greater community is evolving and includes partnerships for new and relevant career-focused program development, assistance with K-12 sector student readiness and expanded service-learning opportunities to contribute to holistic student development, as well as the communities we serve. In addition, we are working on initiatives to invite our community members to share in our campus activities, to embrace diversity within our community and to participate in professional development opportunities. We are also working on initiatives to continually improve residential life and to encourage positive student interaction with the community we serve.
What are your primary goals here?
It is important to expand our service to our current students and alumni, and the best way to do this is to consider higher-level program offerings for current associate and bachelor's degree programs. We invite input from our local and regional employers, and, through advisory board meetings, these constituents are encouraged to provide specific requirements and expectations for competitive employment. We expect to expand our program offerings in 2014, as well as offer greater opportunities for online education.
What do businesses want from educational institutions? What do you want from them?
Many graduates just do not have the soft skills required to be successful in a professional environment. Furthermore, I have heard many employers and advisers express concerns about the need for specific skill sets. Through partnerships, Central Penn College is able to identify the significant job-readiness criteria and address these requirements in our curriculum. Many of our students are able to learn on the job through internships and cooperative learning opportunities.
In turn, Central Penn College seeks specific and direct feedback from our business and community partners. We invite these community leaders on campus to review our curriculum; assess our classrooms, labs and equipment; and contribute to ongoing program development. Many of our business and community partners share their expertise and wisdom through guest speaker initiatives, participation in mock interviews and completion of regular surveys.
I hope to forge new partnerships while fostering those we have so highly valued over the years. I plan to be highly visible and accessible — and I look forward to greater involvement on behalf of our students.
Meet the president
Name: Karen Scolforo
Position: Ninth president of Central Penn College, which is based on a residential campus in East Pennsboro Township and has locations near Lancaster and Bethlehem, as well as on-site degree completion programs with a number of partner institutions. The college recently announced its first graduate-level program.
Previous job: Executive director at the Fortis Institute in northeast Florida.
Education: Master’s degree in writing and literature from Rivier University; doctoral degree in education leadership from the University of North Florida.