Campus to offer 4-year English degree program

April 23, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

MONT ALTO, Pa. - In keeping with its vision to expand programs and recruit more students, Penn State Mont Alto will offer the school's first four-year baccalaureate program in English.

The four-year degree program will be the fifth for the satellite campus, which started out as Pennsylvania's forestry school at the turn of the 20th century. Noted mostly as a two-year-degree school, Mont Alto sends most of its students to Penn State's main campus in State College, Pa., to finish their four-year programs.

The new four-year English program is expected to start in the fall, said Kevin Boon, assistant professor of English and the catalyst behind the effort to expand the school's English program from two to four years.


Boon came to Penn State Mont Alto from the State University of New York system three years ago. He said he was told the school would begin a four-year English program in the next year. When it didn't happen, Boon decided to push things along.

"I realized that we already offered two years of English and that we could easily establish a four-year program," he said.

Mont Alto has a qualified English teaching staff and a current curriculum structure in place, Boon said. The program could be implemented without additional expense and without affecting the current academic structure, he said.

English prepares students for careers in business, publishing, advertising, marketing, industry, government and communications - any job that requires good writing, reading and communications skills, Boon said.

"English majors often go on to post-graduate study not only in English, but in such areas as law, business, education and other liberal disciplines," Boon said. "In reality, English majors can go to a number of different places."

A graduate of Mont Alto's four-year English program will not be qualified to teach school without taking education courses, he said.

The campus has six full-time faculty members in the English department and eight part-time adjunct professors.

The school has about 1,300 students.

Boon hopes to enroll 12 students in the program in the fall.

"I'd like to do the same the following years. Then we'd have 24, 36 and 48 by the time the first year graduates," he said.

One target group for the new English program would be students enrolled in Hagerstown Community College's two-year program. Like Mont Alto students, they could finish their four-year program at Mont Alto, he said.

"Usually it's the better students who go into English, those who are better writers and readers," Boon said.

Mont Alto currently offers four-year degree programs in business administration, with 29 students enrolled; human development and family studies, with 35 students enrolled; nursing, with 23 students; and occupational therapy, with 67 students.

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