2 min read January 2022 — In an interview with Invest:, Kathy Humphrey, president of Carlow University, talked about the ways in which the university is innovating in response to the pandemic and the rise in popularity of online learning and hybrid models. She also discussed the changes in societal opinions on higher education in general and what she foresees as the future of the university and education in Pittsburgh.
What differentiates Carlow University from other institutions in the region?
The best way to talk about Carlow is to explain why I left the University of Pittsburgh and came here. Forty-seven percent of our students are PELL eligible, which means they are coming from backgrounds that are seen by the federal government as economically challenged. They are in a situation where our help will change the trajectory of their lives and that of future generations. That ability to make a difference is what drove me here. Twenty-six percent of our students are non-white and we are in a situation to change the perception of those individuals and create social change and justice. We talk about social justice as being a value and not only something that you do but something you aspire to be. It is something to help you understand and have the ability to speak out against when there is no justice.
The excellence of our education is another factor. For instance, our nursing students have passed the licensure test at a higher rate than any other nursing program in the city for the last seven years in a row.
In what ways has technology impacted the delivery of education?
We are instructing students on using data and not just reading it. You have to be able to do more than just read a problem; you have to be able to understand it and apply it to different situations to come up with the right answer. We are providing a curriculum that allows all our students to use data in a way that is effective and that helps them answer questions because that is the new reality.
In my day, we also had to answer questions but information was king at that point because it was hard to get. It is much easier these days, so it is important to use another level of analysis so that our students can leave here and be an asset to future employers.
What are some significant innovations being implemented at the university?
What many universities are doing right now is looking at how we can respond to the needs of the marketplace. Right now, we are in the process of creating a program to help those people who have not decided what they are going to do after graduating high school. Some people call it the GAP Program and what we want to do is be part of the change as to why people never finish school. We want to provide a year of value and allow students to discover what they are called to and best suited for and give them a taste of the future they might be looking toward. It gives them the opportunity to explore options they may not have been aware of initially and gives them a better opportunity to identify what they want to pursue.
What are the main challenges facing the higher education system as a whole?
We can ignore that the world is changing or we can respond to it. Students expect to have flexibility now more than ever before so hybrid education is the new reality. A three-year bachelor’s degree program is also our new reality as time is of the essence to our population.
What is your outlook for the future of Carlow University and higher education in Pittsburgh?
We are really fortunate to be known for our eds and meds in Pittsburgh and to have many universities in the area with different populations and different niches. We are all trying to make the city as great as we can and are reaching outside of our institutions and questioning how we can help the city be better as well as the university. Higher education institutions and corporations must now take hands, so we are working together to strengthen our local economies. In this way, we are an asset as an institution and to the city. We will be doing a lot more partnering in the future to make each other greater and the city of Pittsburgh greater as a whole.
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