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 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.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Peirce Diversity and Inclusion Council to Hold Viewing and Discussion of The March

We’re all familiar with the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King Jr. made his iconic “I have a Dream” speech. However, many people are unaware of the obstacles the organizers had to overcome in the months and years before the march in order to make the event a success.

On Thursday, January 22 at 5:45 in the 7th floor library, the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council will hold a screening of the film, The March, which goes behind the scenes with some of the key players and organizers to bring us first-hand accounts of the challenges and triumphs they faced in the build up to the march. After the viewing we encourage all students to participate in a lively discussion about new perspectives and insights gained from the film.

The March, also known as the “Great March on Washington” took place on August 28th, 1963 and was one of the largest political rallies in U.S. history with some 250,000 people in attendance.
It is widely credited for playing a significant role in getting the U.S. government to take action on civil rights issues and igniting political willpower for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

 Here’s a brief description of the film:
“The program tells the story of the how the march for jobs and freedom began, speaking to the people who organized and participated in it. Using rarely seen archive footage the film reveals the background stories surrounding the build up to the march … The film follows the unfolding drama as the march reaches its ultimate triumphs, gaining acceptance from the state, successfully raising funds and in the end, organized and executed peacefully - and creating a landmark moment in the struggle for civil rights and racial equality in the United States.”

The Diversity and Inclusion committee is comprised of Peirce staff members and is committed to creating diversity focused events that serve students.  To learn more about the D&I Council, other upcoming events, resources, and diversity facts, please visit the Peirce Diversity and Inclusion page.

We look forward to an enlightening viewing and engaging discussion!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Philadelphia Inquirer Highlights Value of Partnership between Peirce College and University of the Arts

Last January we told you about our strategic partnership with the University of the Arts that helps better prepare students for today’s job market. Through the partnership, Peirce offers current students of the University of the Arts a variety of courses in management, marketing, application development, and entrepreneurship along with many other courses that will help them build careers in business and as creative entrepreneurs. Peirce students can also take courses at University of the Arts in graphic design, multimedia, photography, performing arts, and many other courses that align with their personal and professional interests.

Recently the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the value of this partnership along with other initiatives to help students throughout the region develop personally and professionally as they head out into the modern workforce. 

The article echoes the sentiment of University of the Arts President Sean T. Buffington who stated when the partnership was announced a year ago, “Artists and designers are increasingly building careers as creative entrepreneurs, and business leaders see more and more opportunity in the arts fields. The University of the Arts is excited to partner with Peirce College to help both student communities develop the skills necessary to succeed in the creative economy.”

James J. Mergiotti, Peirce College president and chief executive officer also sees the value the partnership brings to Peirce, “This cross registration agreement provides new opportunities for our students. Partnering with UArts will broaden Peirce students’ creative abilities while upholding our mission of equipping them with the career-related knowledge and tools they need to reach their educational and life goals.”

To learn more about the types of courses offered by Peirce to University of the Arts students take a look at the full list of courses.

If you’re a current Peirce student interested in enrolling in courses at the University of the Arts through the partnership and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above, earned at least 12 college-level credits, and completed any applicable developmental courses, you can get a full list of the courses offered to Peirce students here.

Learn more about the partnership and how to enroll in courses by contacting your advisor at or 888.868.4269 ext. 9177.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Five Tips for Setting and Keeping your 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is often seen as a time of renewal, reflection, and planning ahead. While most people are excited to come up with new resolutions, according to the American Psychological Association only about 1 in 5 people are actively sticking to their resolutions by March.

Clearly, setting resolutions is easy but sticking with them for 52 weeks is a bit more challenging. Nonetheless, when we look at people who have excelled in a variety of different fields, almost all of them have goals and a system for achieving those goals. Trends show this is the case across the board whether you’re setting an academic, personal, or professional goal.

So if you’re looking to be the best version of yourself in 2015, take a look at the tips below that help with both setting and achieving your resolutions.

Be Specific
People who are specific about their New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to fulfil those resolutions than those who aren’t. So for example, rather than having a resolution to “get a better job,” think in terms of “I’ll get a job in ____ field, in ____ position, and making _____ salary.” Take it a step further by thinking about the logical actions it will take to achieve the goal and write out plan for doing them. By doing this you’re able to focus on the specific things that will take you closer to your goal.

Be Realistic
Thought it’s always best to make resolutions that cause you to stretch, commit, and at times sacrifice, understanding your current priorities and life situation is an important step to fulfilling your resolution. Keep in mind any obstacles that may be standing in your way and how you’ll overcome them. Setting unrealistic goals can cause you to become discouraged before you've even had the
chance to make meaningful progress. “Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you’ll still land in the stars” is a nice maxim, but if you never truly believe you’ll hit your resolution, you’re much less likely to even get started. So consider starting with a smaller goal to build momentum before tackling the larger goals.

Write Your Goal Down
Writing your resolution down should be your first step to achieving it.  This gets it out of your mind and forces you to think through the goal and be clear about what it is you’re trying to achieve. In 1979 Harvard conducted a study that asked students, ““have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Though many of the students had goals, only 3% had taken the time to write them down. Ten years later when the students were interviewed for a follow-up, the 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!

Set Milestones
You’ve heard many times throughout your life “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” While that’s true, taking that first step knowing that you still have 1,000 miles can be pretty daunting. The odds of you completing the thousand-mile journey will be greatly increased if you break the journey down into ten 100 mile journeys and take the time to reflect and reward yourself at each milestone. Organize your resolutions into smaller, more manageable goals that build toward a larger goal. So for example, if your goal is to lose 25 pounds this year, you’re much more likely to succeed if you set a goal to lose 2 pounds per month and reward yourself at the end of each month when you’ve reached that goal.

Keep Track of Your Progress
Keeping a record of the progress you’ve made towards your resolution is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable while also keeping your resolution top of mind. There are many different web and mobile apps that can help do this, but a notebook journal may work just as well.

By keeping records, you’ll be consistently working on your goals and able to see the progress you’ve made, which is a huge motivator in and of itself. Keeping records of your goals will also give you the opportunity to reassess your goals and allows you to make adjustments for circumstances you may not have thought of when first setting your resolution.

Best of luck on your journey through 2015! May this be your best year ever!