Friday, January 30, 2015

Master’s in Organizational Leadership vs. MBA: Which One is Right for Me?

Students looking to further their education with a Master’s degree are tasked with deciding which degree will most help achieve their career goals in a complex, quickly evolving workforce. For many, the choice comes down to a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management vs. an MBA.

Which degree is right for you could depend on whether you’re interested in pursuing a career that emphasizes hard skills or soft skills, an analytical approach or a holistic approach, and whether you’re more interested in specific business strategy or execution across the organization.
Most MBAs take a scientific approach that focuses on technical and analytical skills, while Organizational Leadership degrees focus on soft skills, leadership, and implementation.

So while an MBA grad may be responsible for developing strategy, the leader understands how multiple business units must come together to execute the strategy. The Master’s in Organizational Leadership helps leaders understand how to maximize the potential of their people in order to help companies achieve their goals and objectives.

In addition to business theory and scholarly research, students should also consider the value that employers are now placing on soft skills in the workplace. These skills include exercising influence, complex problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking. While most MBAs only require 1-2 courses that focuses on these skills, with a Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Management, these skills are emphasized throughout the curriculum and are integrated into each course.

Alas, one of the greatest benefits of an effective Organizational Leadership and Management program is the relevance and currency of the courses.  At Peirce, we strive to apply current issues and reflect on what is happening in the world as it relates to each course.  Combining current events with course content provides students the ability to advance their career prepared with various approaches and options for dealing with situations as they arise. 

Developing the Leaders of Tomorrow
The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management is suited for any student with a desire for leadership.  Its focus is on providing the skills necessary to lead.  Effective leaders possess much more than analytical skills. Leaders have to foster an environment in which others will follow, otherwise it is not leadership.  A good leader will not tell others to follow, but will foster an environment in which others want to follow because of shared goals and desires.

Because the degree’s focus is leadership, which is universal, the career path for a graduate is vast. An Organizational Leadership degree can be instrumental for the student who is wishing to advance in their current career; transition to a leadership position for the first time; or the student who desires executive level responsibility. 

What types of students enroll in MSOLM?
The best suited student for the Peirce College Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management is the student who has the passion to learn, share, and apply. The degree will challenge every student, but ability to apply content immediately is what sets it apart.  The best fit for our program is the student who is striving to advance in a leadership capacity. But since the learning environment is rich with sharing, even the inexperienced student has the opportunity to learn from peers.  Current students of Organizational Leadership range from those new to the workforce, mid-level managers, and executives. 

Is the Peirce Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management convenient for students already in the workforce?
Peirce College has always had a focus on serving the working adult.  Our Master’s in Organizational Leadership program may be completed fully online, or on campus.  Starting in the fall, all courses will be offered using FLEX, which gives the student the flexibility to decide on a weekly basis whether to attend on campus or fully online. This convenience is important for those in the workplace who may travel or have other obligations that would keep them from coming to campus.  Our courses are challenging and students should be prepared to work hard, but the accelerated course schedule, in addition to the delivery, allows for a fast pace that is manageable.

The program includes 12 three credit courses.  A part-time student (taking two courses per term in the fall, spring, and summer) can expect to complete the program in two years.  We also offer a full-time option for students entering their second term.   The full-time option includes taking three courses per term.  

The Peirce College Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management is designed to provide students the knowledge and skills necessary for leadership success.  The program is rich with theory, foundation, and practical application which can frequently be used in the workplace immediately. If you’re interested in learning more about the program, visit the Peirce Organizational Leadership & Management page or call 888.467.3472, ext. 9000 for more information.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

IN THE BEGINNING: The Origin of the Peirce Alumni Association

Although there have been many changes at Peirce throughout our 150-year history, one constant has been a group of loyal, active alumni who have represented the benefits of a Peirce education in their workplaces and communities.  And among the many facets of our history we'll be celebrating this anniversary year, few have had a longer tradition  - one which continues into the present day - as does the school's Alumni Association, which has been in place for the last 123 years.   

June 15, 1892 marked the first formal meeting of the Alumni Association.  As the history book Peirce Means Business describes the group's genesis, "the formation of the Association was the work of seven graduates...(who were) all current Peirce faculty members." Their number included Ruth Peirce, a member of the Class of 1892 and the daughter of our founder Thomas May Peirce. The initial objective for the Association, stated in the minutes of that evening, is one that carries forth to this day: "to promote social intercourse among the graduates...and to aid the faculty in further popularizing our Alma Mater." 

Original minutes from the first Alumni Association meeting
(Click to enlarge)
The response by alumni to that first call to organize was overwhelming - two hundred graduates joined together that evening at what was then the Peirce College of Business and Shorthand at 917-19 Chestnut Street to establish the Association. The minutes of that inaugural gathering describe the breadth of business carried out that night:  the gathering didn't adjourn until 11:15 PM! However,  all the work done by the men and women at that first meeting held the Association in good stead for many years to come:  a dues structure was established, an officer group elected, and a Board of Managers put in place. 

By the time of their next annual meeting in June 1893 the Association sponsored a banquet for alumni (complete with a six piece orchestra), revised the Association bylaws, and grew their membership to 345 individuals, including graduates from Texas, California, Oregon and Maine.  There was even a love match among their numbers:  the minutes of the Annual Meeting notes the "marriage of Miss Lizzie P. Chew, Class of '90, Member of the Board of Managers, to Mr. Charles W. Schoener also of the Class of '90."

The current Alumni Association continues in the tradition of that first group of graduates.  They bring together men and women who, bonded by their Peirce education, connect with one another and the school to the mutual benefit of all. To learn more about the work of the current day Association and become an active partner in connecting our graduates with the College, visit our webpage and join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Peirce’s Penmanship Past on Display at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Last year, the Peirce College Library began a conversation with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) about the Penmanship Collection in our archives. Based on this discussion, a number of staff members from HSP visited Peirce to see the materials. They were impressed with the depth of the collection and the story it tells about penmanship education in nineteenth-century Philadelphia. 

When HSP began to assemble an exhibit on the history of penmanship and penmanship education, Tara O’Brian, the Director of Conservation and Preservation, invited us to be a part of the display. The exhibit, “Pen to Paper” opened earlier this month and features a few notable items on loan from the Peirce Archives.

When Peirce students enrolled in the penmanship program in the 1880s, they were asked to submit a sample of their handwriting in the form of a letter to Thomas May Peirce. At the end of the program they would write the same letter, showing how the methods taught by the Peirce faculty improved their penmanship skills.

A few of these student samples are included in the Historical Society’s exhibit. The display also contains a letter written by Thomas May Peirce, showing his own penmanship skills. Our founder’s letter is in good company, displayed next to a letter written by Michelangelo to Pope Leo X. Another interesting non-Peirce piece in the collection is an 1865 lithograph of Abraham Lincoln appearing through the text of the Emancipation Proclamation. The exhibit captures the importance of skilled penmanship in the pre-typewritten world through the lens of Pennsylvania people and institutions. 

Thomas May Peirce's Example of Perfect Penmanship
Letter from Michelangelo to Pope Leo X
1865 lithograph of Abraham Lincoln appearing through the text of the Emancipation Proclamation

 In other archive news, we’ve created an exhibit documenting the first 50 years of Peirce which includes catalogs, photographs, letters and promotional materials from the archives. This can be viewed in the Library through the end of February. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Peirce Professor Kate Watson Wins Award for her Research and Strategies that Helps Traumatized Students in the Classroom.

Earlier this month Kate Watson, Assistant Professor of Healthcare Administration at Peirce, won an award at the University Teaching and Learning Conference held at Temple University for a poster she created that focuses on student trauma and strategies that educators can use to deal with trauma in the classroom. In total, there were 24 posters that were submitted and voted on.

Because of her background in both healthcare and criminal justice she was able to bring a unique perspective to the topic as they’ve both given her insight into both violence and trauma. Her idea for the poster centered around the fact that many students (more than half) have experienced some kind of trauma in their past.  Though she outlined a wide range of trauma that students could suffer from, she offered strategies that educators could implement inside the classroom that would benefit all students who have suffered from various traumas, as well as students who have never faced a traumatic experience.

The strategies came from both her own experience in working with survivors of trauma along with additional research.

When asked more specifically about the implementation of the strategies, Professor Watson advised us that the strategies are more about prevention of classroom problems rather than intervention. The strategies can be applied so that educators can set up their classroom in a way that they may never even need to know that the student was suffering trauma. Such a classroom would be designed to create an environment where students are more likely to be successful in the first place. It doesn’t necessarily take a different approach for each student, but rather focused more generally about how educators design their curriculum and for students to have a little bit more power in the decision making.

When analyzing the poster, one of the more surprising facts is just how many students have faced, and are suffering from, some type of traumatic experience.

For example, many of the educators at the conference stated "I wanted to come look at your poster because I have a lot of vets in my classroom." But while the poster is particularly relevant for educators who have veterans who are experiencing trauma, it was also really important to convey the point that this wasn't just a problem for veterans. Consider 18 or 19 year old students coming right out of high school. About 50% of them had exposure to a traumatic event. Professor Watson stated that in response to educators interested in strategies for trauma for vets, she also reminded them that "It’s great you came over here because you're caring about the vet, but this is much bigger and broader than just a handful of vets you might help in your class because there are so many more students who suffer from trauma than just vets." As the poster points out, trauma could range from a variety of other things including chronic poverty and hunger to physical abuse and accidents.

For example, if you were in hurricane Sandy and lost your home on the Jersey Shore that can cause trauma. And the older students are, the more likely they are to have faced a trauma. The poster highlights the fact that while 64% of the population has experienced some type of trauma, that number jumps to 90% for adults over 55.

 So how do these strategies affect students who may not have faced a trauma? Professor Watson explained, “These strategies can't hurt anyone. So even if you're in the 40% or less who's not feeling particularly traumatized, these strategies won't hurt your education. Having a trusted environment and choice and power, those are good things across the board but they're particularly useful for those who need it. You know maybe we don't all need it, but we can all benefit from it.”

When asked for the number one takeaway her poster offers, “I think the number one thing to take away from me is this isn't a unique thing or a rare thing or an odd, stand out example. This was just something we should just assume is in every classroom and therefore the strategies should be implemented in every classroom we teach.

Congratulations Professor Watson and thanks for your important work to help educators provide an environment where trauma survivors are much more likely to succeed!

Here's the award winning poster:

(Click to enlarge)


Thursday, January 22, 2015

What’s in a Name? A 150 year history of Peirce College Name Changes

For 150 years Peirce has remained committed to its purpose of helping working adults transform their lives through higher education and the attainment of degrees. While this hasn’t changed, the name that Peirce has operated under while serving this purpose has underwent several variations.

Let’s take a look at some of these changes over time.

When the doors first opened in 1865 the college was called Union Business College. It held this name until sometime in the 1870s.

In the 1870s, we first saw the name “Peirce” being associated with the college when it changed to Peirce’s Union Business College. Although we can’t be 100% sure, the reason for this name change was probably twofold. The first was to assert Thomas May Peirce’s control of the school. The partnership that funded the school at its founding had dissolved by the 1870s, with Peirce taking full control. Second, there were several other business schools throughout the US that used the name Union. In fact, there was another in Philadelphia which was later taken over by a Baltimore school that was a predecessor to the for-profit Strayer University. The college held the name Peirce’s Union Business College until 1881. 



Beginning in 1881 Peirce began broadly using the name Peirce College. However, we also began seeing different names used depending on which audience Peirce was looking to engage. Examples of these variations include Peirce College of Business, Peirce College of Business and Penmanship, and Peirce College of Business and Shorthand. During these years penmanship was a vital business skill and both Thomas May Peirce and his son, Thomas May Peirce II, considered themselves to be expert penmen.

Thomas May Peirce wrote to many of the major business schools throughout the country requesting examples of their penmanship and programs, drawing from these to make Peirce’s program an exemplary one. Unbeknownst to him all these years later, the penmanship collection in the archives is the most utilized part of our collection by outside researchers and exhibitors.

Starting in 1893 and lasting for more than a half century until 1964, Peirce operated under the name Peirce School and again included variations that appealed to different audiences such as Peirce School of Business, Peirce School of Business Administration, and Peirce School of Business and Shorthand.



The reasoning behind the name Peirce School is clear, School Director L.M. Moffett believed Peirce needed to emphasis the fact it was a professional school, offering practical business training that was offered not only to students looking for new careers, but also to recent graduates of four-year schools seeking business training. Using the name Peirce School, or Peirce School of Business differentiated the school from other post-secondary institutions.

This was an era when many four-year colleges and universities still considered business training a skill learned after college, though some elite colleges opened post-graduate schools such as Wharton in 1881 and Harvard Business School in 1908.  Peirce was both an alternative to traditional college as well as a way for graduates at other colleges to receive practical business training.

In 1964 Peirce adopted the Name Peirce Junior College when it became a non-profit college seeking Middle States accreditation (achieved in 1971).  With the adoption of the name, the two-year associate’s degree programs were formalized.

In 1997, the name Peirce College reappears when the school began offering four-year Baccalaureate programs. For most of its history, Peirce’s focus has been on business (hence the “Peirce Means Business” slogan), but since the late 1960s the school introduced new programs ranging from court reporting to IT, Legal Studies and others. For a brief time in the late 19th and early 20th Century, the school offered teacher training programs as well.

To learn more about the history of Peirce, visit our 150th anniversary page where you can view an interactive timeline, videos, and a calendar of celebratory events.


Monday, January 19, 2015

April 1968, the Peirce Community Reacts to the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

When civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in April of 1968, the concerns of the Peirce community reflected the concerns of our nation.  Students at the time were concerned with a number of issues related to civil rights, the war in Vietnam, the issue of poverty, as well as their regular college stressors related to commencement and classes. The April 18, 1968 edition of The Peircetonian, the student newspaper at the time, was the first edition published after the assassination. A photograph of a pensive King is on the cover above a selection from Adonais, a poem by the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelly. Reflecting the tragedy, and a quote from King, “America, you’ve strayed away” is presented without commentary.


King’s death was followed by an outbreak of unrest in Philadelphia and throughout the country. Teachers from Overbrook High School sent an open letter to The Peircetonian and papers throughout the city stating that despite the sensational reports of violence at the school, they were writing to praise “the overwhelming majority of our students for their decency and courage on a day that was tragic for us all.”  Editorials written by Peirce students varied in their reaction to King’s assassination. Franni Allen wrote an editorial calling on students and society to address the issue of poverty, while others called for non-violence and an end to the Vietnam War, an issue King addressed a year before his death. Decades later, Peirce developed a tradition of participating in the Martin Luther King Day of Service, in which members of the Peirce community volunteer their time on Martin Luther King Day to various projects throughout our city.

The words from Shelley’s featured poem are still fitting in our world today:

Peace, peace! He is not dead, he doth not sleep –
He hath awakened from the dream of life
‘Tis we, who, lost in stormy visions, keep

With phantoms an unprofitable strife…

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Join us in a Year-Long Celebration of Peirce’s 150th Anniversary!

Happy New Year! This is a very exciting year for Peirce College: our new strategic plan will be announced in the spring, our first master’s degree students will graduate in June, and the College is turning 150 years old.

To celebrate our sesquicentennial, we’ve planned activities, events, and special digital content around the theme of “Many Years. One Purpose.” While our location, degree programs, and even our name have changed over the years, Peirce College has remained committed to working adult learners since Thomas May Peirce opened the doors in 1865. This steadfast dedication illustrates one of the things that have made Peirce such a unique institution for so many years.

Since the beginning, we’ve been helping working adults transform their lives through career-focused higher education. It began with Thomas May Peirce’s mission to help returning Civil War veterans prepare for careers in business and continues today as we prepare students to meet the latest workforce demands and build successful careers.

Throughout the year, we’ll be highlighting different parts of the Peirce story with themes that have played a major role in shaping the College. This month we’ll be focusing on our rich history through a series of articles and interactive media to help you explore Peirce’s journey over the last 150 years. We’ve also developed a series of commemorative cartoons that take a humorous look at Peirce’s past, present, and future.



We hope you’ll join us as a member of the Peirce Community in helping to celebrate this milestone. Please visit www.peirce.edu/150 to learn how you can join the celebration, a calendar of events, and take a journey through time with our interactive timeline.

We only turn 150 once.  Let’s make this a year to remember.