Friday, April 24, 2015

Peirce Student Innovation Series: Innovation in the Legal Field

This post is part of our new Innovative Student Series. Over the coming weeks we profile stories of Peirce students and alumni and how innovation is impacting the industries they’re studying and working in. Stay tuned to the blog for more stories highlighting the crossroads of innovation, higher education, and workforce trends.

The legal field may not be the first thing people think of when they hear the word innovation. However, those working in the field, and more importantly, those who benefit from the work of legal professionals, can clearly see how innovation is revolutionizing the field.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Peirce student, Sharon DiSipio, who is seeing firsthand how innovation is advancing the legal field in her role as a corporate paralegal for Buzzi Unicem USA Inc.

In the interview she explains her current responsibilities, how innovation is impacting the legal field, and how she sees the role of innovation in the industry in the near future.

What was your degree at Peirce? What was your experience like?
My degree at Peirce was focused on a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies. The Peirce experience
Sharon DiSipio
was very challenging yet rewarding and allowed for tremendous growth academically, personally, and professionally. I had many opportunities to grow as an individual and build leadership skills through the continual encouragement I received from Peirce faculty, which significantly helped my growth process.

Where are you currently employed and what are some of your roles and responsibilities?
Presently, I am employed full-time as a corporate paralegal for a private U.S. cement manufacturing company, Buzzi Unicem USA Inc., In addition, I’m also completing my Co-Op with them which is providing new growth and development opportunities.

Through my role as a corporate paralegal, I’m exposed to a wide variety of responsibilities. I am involved with maintaining the corporate reporting and entity management, overseeing the document retention and off-site storage of company files and records, managing the processing and coding of the legal department’s vendor invoices from outside firms, maintaining and updating the company’s trademarks, and a wide variety of other legal tasks.

How has technology impacted your career?
Technology has a significant impact on many of today’s careers. In particular, it plays a much bigger role in the life of a paralegal, attorney, and legal field than it has in the past. For starters, technology remains in the forefront for almost any aspect needed when conducting legal research. In years past, to conduct legal research (i.e. researching case law, statutes, regulations, etc.) paralegals had to physically go to the local courthouse or legal library which often times required hours upon hours to locate exactly what was necessary to support the legal argument.

Today, the process has been simplified through online web-based subscription services such as WestLaw and LexisNexis. Now, paralegals can research and locate pertinent information through a few key strokes within a matter of minutes. These innovations are constantly being updated.
Besides legal research, technology has become central to connecting with any number of other non-paid services readily available online. For instance, many of the corporate filings, reports, tax documents, unclaimed property filings, entity histories, trademark research, etc. can be carried out through online websites without the need to produce and mail paper documents.

Why do you think innovation and technology is important in the legal field?
The world is a constantly and fast-changing environment. Technological developments, advancements, and innovations are the breeding ground for that change. They have created an environment in which competition runs rampant and crosses into so many realms, including in the legal field.

Additionally, different industries will continuously need to reshape themselves to adapt to the continuing innovations. For the legal field, it will be vital to quickly adapt and seek out new avenues for delivering legal services quickly, while still using the vast amount of information and resources now available. Such adaptation will assist in keeping the legal field well-informed and at the forefront of the ever changing landscape.

Thanks, Sharon for sharing the insights you’ve gained from working directly in the field. Best of luck on your future endeavors!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prepare for Opportunity and Master Your Career with a Degree in Organizational Leadership and Management

Many of us have a dream to advance our careers. Getting a better job with higher pay and greater responsibility can have such a positive impact on so many aspects of our lives, from enhancing personal value and self-esteem, to improving our lifestyle, to supporting our families, so they can achieve all they desire from life.

The challenge then, is how does one formulate the goal for a more successful career, prepare for opportunity, and make that goal a reality? How does one find the right combination of inspiration and determination, and acquire the training, tools, and support to develop a realistic action plan and see it through to success? And, how does one do all this amidst a busy life—working full time, supporting a family, maintaining a household, and having a personal life and some fun along the way?

Career-minded professionals, Tia Hall and Timothy Roberts, found their solution to this challenge here at Peirce College. Both Hall and Roberts are preparing for new career opportunities by pursuing a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Management (MSOLM), which offers working adults a versatile set of real-world leadership and management skills, while providing the convenience and flexibility to fit college into a busy lifestyle.

Hall works full-time as the Program Manager, Philadelphia Scholars Program, for the Philadelphia Education Fund. She is a single parent, raising a family of three children. Roberts is a Budget Analyst and Program Manager for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health. He is married, with two children. Like many working adults with families, Hall and Roberts had to weigh the time and commitment required to return to college against current responsibilities. This made the decision to get started on a master’s degree track a challenge of its own.

“For me, this started a while ago,” says Hall. “I’ve always wanted to pursue a master’s degree, but life detoured me in a different direction, and I wasn’t able to do it right after getting my bachelor’s degree (from Indiana University of Pennsylvania). It took some time to realize that I needed to make this a priority; things were not going to get less busy in my life. I recognized that it was critical to advancing my career. I felt Peirce could give me the push I needed … Peirce College is made for the working adult.”

Roberts, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Peirce, says that his inspiration for returning to college came from seeing his wife’s success with a graduate degree. “My wife has her master’s degree, and she motivated me to do it too,” Roberts relates. “I saw new positions opening [at work], with a lot of potential, and I knew I needed the right education to achieve them. The Peirce College MSOLM program suited my needs.”

Today, there is a broad range of choices for individuals planning for a graduate degree, or advanced career training. Convenience and flexibility, backed by a practical, career-oriented curriculum and a supportive staff, have made the Peirce Graduate Studies Program a standout choice in the greater Philadelphia area.

“I looked at a lot of schools and a lot of programs. I went to a lot of open houses before making the decision to come to Peirce,” says Hall. “I maintain a full-time work schedule, and I’m a single mother of three. I wanted something that was convenient for me. And that included being able to take courses on campus, or online. A lot of schools I looked at offered online courses exclusively, and that made me nervous.”

Hall explains that during her undergraduate studies she had only taken on-campus courses, so she wanted to start where she was familiar and then move to online classes. It was this flexibility that made Peirce a viable and valuable choice for her.

Roberts says, “The flexibility [that Peirce offers] is perfect for me with my job and family responsibilities. I use both options; online and on-campus classes.”

While Peirce’s online classes offer extra convenience to easily incorporate college courses into a busy lifestyle, both Hall and Roberts have also found value in the Peirce on-campus experience.

“I was also looking for something small and intimate. I didn’t want to go into a setting where I was being lost,” says Hall.  “I can also take a lot of things that I do at work into the classroom and that helps me process through the work I do day-to-day. There are a lot of moments where you can really dig in and take away information and skills you can apply immediately.”

Roberts finds similar benefits in the Peirce graduate program courses. He talks about the value of diversity within the Peirce College classes, in both learning environments: “We have people from marketing, finance, human resources, and management. You learn a lot from people with different perspectives.”

“In the Peirce MSOLM program, you are not just being taught leadership; you are being groomed for leadership,” says Roberts. “Learning about my leadership behaviors has helped me see clearly the things I was doing wrong. It has helped me deal with change, and has improved my communications and productivity on the job.”

Robert’s participation in the MSOLM program has already led to a promotion at work. A position, he says, that would not have been available to him had he not been on track for his master’s degree at Peirce.

“I would recommend the program to anyone who has a busy life,” agrees Hall.
“Everyone I’ve met, from professors, to classmates, to administrators and staff, has been helpful and willing to lend support. Whenever I felt I couldn’t do it, there was someone there to say, you’ve got this! You can do this!”

Tia and Timothy found a way to make their dreams reality and advance their careers. How can Peirce College help you prepare for your next opportunity?

To learn more about Peirce College Graduate Studies and the Organizational Leadership and Management Master’s Degree Program, Give us a call at 215-670-9325, or visit us online at

Monday, April 20, 2015

Peirce College Highlights its Commitment to Innovation with New Intracourse Delivery

Peirce has long been an innovator in higher education. From preparing returning Civil War soldiers for a business focused education, to innovative courses to help supply the workforce during WWI, to being an early adopter in online education, Peirce prides itself in being a pioneer and early adopter.

As we celebrate our 150 year history of innovation, we’re continuously striving to stay on the cutting edge of providing working adults with the education they need to compete in today’s workforce in the most up-to-date formats.

At Peirce, we understand that earning a college degree requires an enormous amount of commitment and dedication.  Students invest both financially and emotionally in pursuit of their degree.  Most Peirce students have one or more jobs and balance the demands of family or other caregiver responsibilities. 

Traditionally, the College has offered courses in two formats; online and on campus.  While these formats of instruction are commonplace in higher education, they offer the student little, if any, flexibility within a single course.  In other words, our on campus students are committed to attending class on campus for a full seven or eight weeks and our online students must commit to attending class online for seven or eight weeks. 

Regardless of the format the student chooses, there are limitations in terms of flexibility for either student.  If our on campus students must miss a class, there is no make-up option.  If our online students want to come to class on campus for a week or two for a face-to-face experience, that option is not available for them either.  From a scheduling perspective, students must enroll in classes when they are offered and in their format of choice.  That is … until now. Peirce is committed to taking course delivery and instruction to the next level in order to meet the needs of today’s learner. 

We are doing so by introducing our intracourse delivery option.  Beginning in fall 2015, Graduate Studies and Health Programs courses will be offered in Peirce’s flexible intracourse delivery format.  Other degree programs will convert to this model by fall 2016.  This instructional delivery model offers students the flexibility of choosing on a weekly basis how they will participate in a course: on campus, completely online, or a mix of both throughout the duration of a course. 

In addition, the College is expanding its use of instructional technology in the classroom and exploring creative means of delivering instruction such as the flipped classroom.  In general terms, the flipped classroom is one marked by students doing class preparation at home such that face-to-face class time focuses on application of the ideas the student prepped for.  

Peirce is leveraging innovation in higher education guided by a very strong strategic plan and a dedicated faculty team led by Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts.  Dr. Roberts’s vision for teaching and learning excellence is guiding the implementation of our intracourse delivery model and other strategic initiatives impacting instruction at the College.   

We look forward to continuing our tradition of innovation as we continue to serve the needs of adult learners over the next 150 years.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Auditions are open for 2015 Peirce Idol! Prizes for all entrants!

Renee Martin, 2014 Peirce Idol
If you love to sing, want to represent your school, and would like the chance to win a $150 gift card, come out and audition to be Peirce College's 2015 Peirce Idol. We're selecting one lucky student from our student body to sing the national anthem at this year's 150th Commencement ceremony on June 11, and can't wait to see who comes out to auditions.

It's easy to set up your time slot. Just email your name and phone number to us, and we'll set up your audition on Thursday, April 30. You'll sing before a panel of judges composed of Peirce faculty and staff. We'll also be recording tryouts so that your peers can watch, listen, and vote to choose their 2015 Peirce Idol for Commencement.

Everyone who auditions will receive a Peirce prize pack and a $10 gift card to Starbucks. And the lucky student chosen to sing the national anthem at Commencement will also receive a $150 gift card. More details about where to watch the audition videos and the voting process will be coming soon here on the blog, so stay tuned!

Email to schedule your audition today!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Peirce College’s Dr. Littlefield Publishes Research on Organic Collaborative Teams

Recently, Dr. Cathy Littlefield published an article in the International Journal of Doctoral Studies along with two colleagues titled, “Organic Collaborative Teams: The Role of Collaboration and Peer to Peer Support for Part-Time Doctoral Completion.”

Though the article was born out of their collaborative efforts while the three were completing their doctoral studies, the findings in the article have a much wider application for students at all levels of student populations (undergraduate and graduate), and can also be applied to collaborative teams in the workplace.

The research and experiences were a couple of years in the making. It started with Dr. Littlefield along with two other Doctoral candidates at Widener University, Laura M. Taddei and Meghan E. Radosh, were assigned a team project during one of their courses. After successfully completing the
Drs. Cathy Littlefield, Laura Taddei, and Megan Radosh
assignment, they would go on to have a few more classes together, collaborate to support each other on their doctoral comprehensive exams, and finally came together, voluntarily, as a self-identified team for their dissertations, even though their dissertations were on separate topics with separate timelines.

After successfully defending their dissertations, they realized there was something that made their collaboration so effective. They began researching and learned there was no terminology to capture the sum of factors that led to their successful collaboration, so they created the term “Organic Collaborative Teams.”

An Organic Collaborative Team, as they defined, is a "naturally formed dynamic peer to peer support group, built on individual strengths and differences, while focused on a common goal."

Their data revealed four themes that allowed them to formally define organic collaboration. Prior to the article, there was no published definition of such. Together, they conducted a qualitative narrative inquiry, and the data revealed the following themes:

Theme 1 - Common Goal: While peers may be joined initially by a short term common goal, continuation of the peer team may be continued with the identification of a long-range common goal.  In the case of Drs. Littlefield, Taddei, and Radosh, after completing the class project that initially brought them together, voluntarily remained connected as they progressed through the doctoral program with a new common goal of degree completion.

Theme 2 - Group Dynamics: An organic collaborative team must be respectful, creative, encouraging, and supportive.  While each member of the team is still an individual, there must be a mutual respect.  Each member must contribute fully and equally -- the absence of this balance could derail the team. 

Theme 3 - Peer to Peer Support: Peer to peer support is about providing support to your team.  This can be as simple as helping to clarify something, support and celebrate accomplishments, or even just listen when there is a need to vent.  As this relates to a learning environment, peer to peer support resembles a community of practice -- in which students are peers within a class, the goal is academic development, and students support each other academically.

Theme 4 - Intentional Relational Learning: Relational learning implies a reciprocal give and take of ideas.  This free-sharing environment leads to an environment that is mutually respectful, non-competitive, and supportive.  In the case of Drs. Littlefield, Taddei, and Radosh, they started as a team with one common goal, but as they developed into a stronger team, they purposely gathered for individual research while supporting each other on a grander scale.  In intentional relational learning, relationships are formed, which makes this more than a task-specific team.

The paper concludes by suggesting departments, faculty, and higher education in general has the ability to foster and encourage teams.  What may start as an initial team assignment or project, has the potential to grow into a stronger, organic collaborative team.  In order for this team to be true to the concept of an organic collaborative team, there must be a common purpose (or goal), amicable group dynamics, peer to peer support (that is encouraging and not competitive), and the creation of relationships via intentional relational learning.  

Congratulations Drs. Littlefield, Taddei, and Radosh on the collaborative completion of your doctoral degrees and the publication of this insightful research.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Become a Part of Peirce History with the Peirce 150 Memories Contest!

The past 150 years have been filled with rich history at Peirce College and we’ve been fortunate to capture many of the stories along the way.  However, the whole story wouldn’t be complete without the unique experiences of the individuals that make up Peirce College; our students, alumni, faculty and employees.  That’s why starting today, we’re kicking off our 150 Peirce Memories Contest.

Students, alumni, employees, and members of the Peirce community are invited to tell us their favorite memories from their time at the College.

There are multiple ways you can share your Peirce memory with us:
  • Leave us a comment with your memory in the comments section of this Facebook post
  • Share your memory on Facebook with your friends, but be sure to tag Peirce College
  • Submit your memory via email to
  • Write us a letter and mail to 1420 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 c/o Katie Taylor
Everyone who submits a memory will have an equal chance to win a $150 gift card!

We’re very excited that you are part of the Peirce community and we look forward to preserving your experiences!

*Please note, selection of memories to be featured are at the discretion of the College and due to the number received and their length, not all memories received may be used.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Introducing the 2015-2018 Peirce College Strategic Plan

Since our founding, Peirce has been committed to providing working adults with the employer-valued skills and knowledge they need to achieve workplace success and advance in their careers. As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, we are further exemplifying that commitment with the launch of our 2015-2018 Strategic Plan.

There are many exciting developments included in the plan.  One of the most innovative is our new intra-course flexible delivery model.  Peirce has long been a pioneer in online course offerings, and, for quite some time, students have had the option of choosing online or on campus delivery on a course by course basis. This certainly gives some flexibility to students who are juggling jobs, families, and other responsibilities.  Our new flexible format will allow students to choose between in person or online attendance on a week-by-week basis.  This will provide an unprecedented level of convenience as they pursue their degrees.  The new intra-course flexible delivery option will be available for all Healthcare and Graduate programs beginning in fall 2015 and will be offered across our entire curriculum by September 2016, making Peirce the first in the region and possibly the first in the nation to offer this type of flexibility curriculum-wide.

The research findings which informed the new Strategic Plan indicated that, at times, students and alumni were required to take fewer courses per session because they were challenged to commit to eight and fifteen week course schedules while balancing personal, professional, and community obligations. To alleviate this issue and provide opportunities for students to accelerate their pace to graduation, Peirce will start offering weekend intensive classes in May 2015 that allow students to complete an entire three-credit course in only three weeks. 

Our new strategic plan also includes many other innovations that reinforce our commitment to working adult students, local businesses, and the community at large, including:

  • Competency-based learning: A key plan initiative is the development of a competency based learning platform which recognizes and grants credit for competencies mastered by students outside of the classroom setting.  The platform will be introduced for selected degree programs at Peirce in 2017.  
  • Expanded business partnerships: To expand our existing relationships with companies such as Comcast, Independence Blue Cross, and SEPTA, and create more value for them as well as other employers throughout the region, the plan sets a course for a more strategic approach to employer partnerships which will assist regional businesses in fulfilling their human capital development needs.
  • Guidance and support: The plan calls for the transformation of the College’s support model to offer a broader range of services that are customized to provide each student with the academic, career, and life management services needed to succeed.
These new initiatives have already caused excitement in the media and have been covered by the Philadelphia Business Journal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, CBS Philly, and Fusion.

The 2015-2018 Strategic Plan underscores our vision to become the recognized higher education leader in providing adult learners a direct and customized path to employer valued skills and credentials.

If you would like to view information about the strategic plan in more detail, please visit