Friday, February 27, 2015

Save the date for Commencement 2015!

Many of you are excited to celebrate Commencement 2015, where you’ll walk across the stage at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and accept that hard-earned diploma in front of your friends and family. Now you can officially mark your calendar: this year’s ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 11, 2015, at 6:45 p.m. To participate, all coursework must be completed by May 9th.

We have many special events leading up to this year’s event, including Peirce Idol and the selection of our 2015 keynote speaker. But we also want your input for our planning process. If you’re a member of the Class of 2015, you should have received an email this week inviting you to recommend your graduation song. Suggest a song that you would most like to hear playing as you celebrate earning your degree! Please cast your vote by Friday, March 21st.  All songs will be reviewed, with the final selection being played on graduation night.

Stay tuned for additional graduation information over the next few months, including deadlines, action items, and 150th anniversary announcements.  If you have any questions, please contact me at 888.467.3472, ext. 9265, or at

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Video Interview: Constance Howard, one of the First African-American Females to Graduate from Peirce College

As we celebrate Black History Month during our 150th anniversary, we explore a truly inspiring moment in Peirce history. We recently had the opportunity to get a first-person narrative from one of the first African-American female graduates of Peirce College, Constance Carlos Howard.

Constance enrolled at Peirce College (known as Peirce School at the time) in 1952 and remembers her time at Peirce both vividly and fondly. In the video, she recalls some of the classes she took, including typing, math, psychology and business, and shows us some of the textbooks she used more than 62 years ago.

A bright and determined student, Constance completed two years of course material in only 18 months. After graduating, she recalls how Peirce School sent her out on several interviews and ultimately landed a job doing stenography shorthand at Philadelphia General Hospital.

Learn more about Constance Carlos Howard’s experience, what it was like to be an African-American female student during the 1950s, and her advice to current students, all in her own words in this enlightening video interview:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Women’s History Month and National Criminal Justice Month Converge in a series of Events at Peirce

Did you know that March is National Criminal Justice Studies month?  In that spirit, the criminal justice studies department at Peirce will honor those who serve on the front lines of the criminal justice profession, those who really make an impactful dent in crime, and those who are thought leaders in our field.

I’d like to invite you to attend two events based around those monthly themes. These events are designed to provide you with insight and first-hand knowledge from various members of the criminal justice community.

Women who are Leaders in Intimate Partner Violence - March 17th 5:30-7PM        

Bob Brzenchek,
 Assistant Professor and Criminal Justice Studies Program Manager  
On March 17, as we’re kicking off our second ever class who will graduate with associates in Criminal Justices Studies, we’ll be holding the National Criminal Justice event, “Women Who are Leaders in Intimate Partner Violence.” Peirce College professor, Kate Watson, will begin the event with a presentation on intimate partner violence. Watson, who is also a victim advocate at UPenn and Drexel, is an expert in social services and regularly speaks on these issues around the country.

Following Kate Watson’s presentation, myself along with other speakers, including one from the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, will also speak to issues that recognize the growing number of women as law enforcement professionals and criminal justice students.

The event will be held on March 17th, from 5:30-7PM during the Criminal Justice Studies capstone course. It will be open to any Peirce Criminal Justice, Paralegal, and Legal Studies in Business students. If there is enough room, students from other majors are also welcome to join.          

Gangs and Crime: Integrating Predictive Gang Prevention March 19th 9:00AM – 4:00PM

The next Criminal Justice event will be a presentation by myself along with two detectives who not only provide consulting around the country, but actually serve in the streets on the front lines in the war against gang violence. These award-winning gang investigators and Senior Detectives, Garrick Poncynzski and Ben Pieper, will join me on March 19th from 9:00AM – 4:00PM. During the workshops we’ll discuss various issues and skills needed to combat gang problems. Topics include team building, funding your gang task force, identifying and assessing gang threats in your area and much more.

The event is open to all Peirce students, law enforcement professionals, intelligence officials, and others with an interest in combating gang violence.

Lastly, I’d like to note another event I’ll be speaking at taking place on March 3 at the Academy of Criminal Justices Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. This is the annual meeting of practitioners and students throughout the entire United States in the criminal justice field. I’ll be representing Peirce at the event by presenting at one of the criminal justice-specific training seminars for instructors. There will also be a number of round tables where practitioners can collaborate on various best practices in the field, current trends, and new technologies that are being leveraged in our space. It is an excellent opportunity for students and practitioners to information share and collaboration with one another

I encourage you to join us for these events as they provide insight into working in the criminal justice system and expose you to a variety of thought leaders who have spent their careers in the field.

To RSVP to Women who are Leaders in Intimate Partner Violence please email  

To RSVP to Gangs and Crime: Integrating Predictive Gang Prevention click here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What do a wealthy Titanic passenger, a world tennis champion, and a 90’s rapper have in common? Peirce College of course!

Over the past 150 years, Peirce graduates have found successful careers in a wide range of fields in the Philadelphia area and beyond. Over that same period, some of our alumni have gone on to achieve national and international notoriety. Here are a few famous people who attended the College.

Simon Guggenheim was the son of Meyer Guggenheim, and an heir to the expansive Guggenheim fortune. Like many Peirce students past and present, Guggenheim chose the College for its emphasis on practical business training. After graduating, he moved to Colorado and was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served one term. He later became president of the American Smelting and Refining Company, and set up the philanthropic John Simon Guggenheim Foundation as a memorial for his son who passed away in 1922. The organization continues his work today. Simon was not the only Guggenheim to attend Peirce, his brothers Murray, Daniel, and Benjamin also attended. The father of art collector Peggy Guggenheim, Benjamin was one of the Peirce graduates whose lives were lost aboard the Titanic.
Benjamin Guggenheim Writing Sample

When the Peirce School of Business moved to 1420 Pine Street in 1915, the campus boasted not only “cool filtered water” and a bowling alley, but also a rooftop tennis court. In these early years, Peirce boasted a tennis team that produced two champions; Wallace F. Johnson and Bill Tilden. Tilden and Johnson faced each other in the 1921 U.S. tennis finals, Tilden went on to not only win the U.S. championship six times, but also Wimbledon in 1920 and 1921. He also led the U.S. Tennis Team to victory in the Davis Cup.
Rooftop Tennis Court
Bill Tilden

Of course, among the thousands of Peirce graduates over the years, there are bound to be a few bad apples. Anastasio Somoza passed through Peirce in the 1920s as part of the Spanish American program. He would go on to become the president of Nicaragua when he implausibly garnered over 99% of the vote, and things didn’t get much better after that.

Though Peirce sports teams came and went throughout the twentieth century, the men’s and women’s basketball teams were a constant, and one Peirce athlete would go on to the NBA. Johnny Baum (aka “Jumpin’ Johnny”) attended Peirce in 1964 and 1965. After Peirce he attended Temple, graduating in 1969, the same year he was drafted to the Chicago Bulls. He would go on to play on several NBA and ABA professional teams before retiring in the late 1970’s.
Jumpin' Johnny Baum
Christine Tartaglione graduated from Peirce in 1980 and has gone on to serve as a Democratic State Senator representing parts of Philadelphia. Now in her 6th term, Tartaglione serves as the minority chair of the Labor and Industry Committee, as well as serving as a member of the Appropriations Committee, Banking & Insurance Committee, and other committees. She has received several awards for her service both as a legislator and advocate, including the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award for her support of mental health programs.

It’s not likely Legal Studies student Tiffany Lane practiced her rap skills in the Peirce College Library, but after graduating Lane would become Charli Baltimore. Baltimore met Notorious B.I.G in 1995 and would go on to release her debut album “Cold as Ice” in 1999.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Benefits of a Diverse Workplace

As the country becomes increasingly diverse, so also do our workplaces. As a result, businesses are experiencing new benefits from diversity that is impacting nearly every industry. Some of the advantages of a more diverse workforce include increased innovation, strategic targeted marketing and overall effective corporate leadership.  Businesses that accept and embrace diversity are at a distinct advantage in an ever-evolving cultural landscape.

As we celebrate diversity this month as a key theme of our 150th anniversary, it is important to understand the benefits of embracing the diverse workforce.

One of the biggest benefit companies are now experiencing is a drive toward innovation. Because diversity brings together different people with unique backgrounds, skill sets, and perspectives, it naturally fosters innovation. Businesses that have diverse, problem-solving teams become more competitive with an innovative edge.

When companies employ like-minded people to do only repetitive tasks, they lose creativity and innovation.  Problems get solved when people from varied backgrounds examine things from a different perspective. This different experience also means that employees can appeal to diverse customer experiences.

The primary driver of innovation is people; so getting the right people in the beginning is key to successful innovation.

Companies that truly value diversity start by recruiting and targeting a diverse candidate population. Initiatives such as diversity job fairs on local college campuses are a great way to take advantage of the large applicant pool of diverse talents. Businesses are not just limited to college campuses. There are more avenues than ever to recruit employees from a variety of backgrounds.

If an organization has genuinely embraced diversity, they are naturally looking to recruit from a larger talent pool. Organizations that draw from a larger talent pool are better positioned to attract, find, and select the best candidates to fill key positions.

As employers embrace a wider variety of qualified professionals, the firm’s human capital naturally increases. There are more women and minorities in a broader range of corporate roles than ever before. These diverse professionals are entering the labor force at historic rates, which in turn contributes to a renewed entrepreneurial spirit resulting in more value for their organizations.
The modern workforce is changing. More millennials comprise a larger share of the workforce. Millennials as a whole are known for embracing diversity in all areas of their lives, including work. As millennials move into higher positions diversity will become a priority especially in recruitment initiatives. This younger generation will gravitate towards companies that share their beliefs and value diversity. 

Marketing in the 21st century has taken a dramatic shift. The nation’s population has become more culturally diverse which has resulted in new marketing approaches. Businesses must understand and embrace diversity in order to successfully market to the 21st century consumer. Companies that have marketing teams with employees reflecting the new multicultural consumer can reap the benefits through product branding, consumer recognition and beyond.   

In today’s environment, it’s essential for companies to truly understand their customers and be able to relate to them. It must go beyond surveys. It requires thinking like the consumer. This means employing people who are representative of that customer’s culture, gender, or background into decision-making positions.  This is necessary not only to understand their customers, but also to understand the broader culture of their customers.

America has become more diverse in our culture and values. This is a trend that will only increase over then next few decades. Businesses must recognize this shift and change to thrive in a new diverse era. Organizations must operate in a global marketplace while recognizing and capitalizing on the value diversity brings.  As the physical barriers to communication disappear the benefits of diversity will continue to make a significant impact. Organizations who truly embrace diversity, from recruitment to marketing efforts and on every level of the organization, will yield the largest returns.

To learn more diversity at Peirce College, please visit our Diversity and Inclusion page for more information, resources, and upcoming events.

Friday, February 13, 2015

EACH DAY IS VALENTINE'S DAY: Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts and David Roberts ‘12

While the Peirce experience is a shared bond among our 17,000+ alumni and the faculty and staff who serve them, some pairs of Peirce people feel the connection more deeply than others. There are many couples who met while going to school here, persuaded their better half to attend the College as they did, or otherwise parlayed their Peirce connection into a love match.  However, in observance of this Valentine’s Day, we turn the spotlight on one very special Peirce couple.

Before he even enrolled for his first class at the College, David Roberts, a member of the class of 2012 who is now an IS Manager at Thomas Jefferson University, understood better than most prospective students about the benefits of a Peirce education:  his wife is Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts, the College's Vice President, Academic Advancement.  After working several years in computer technology and securing varied IT certifications, David decided to come to Peirce to earn his IT degree.  As a student, he enjoyed learning from practitioner faculty who appreciated his work experience, and also established strong professional relationships with his professors like Dr. Pat Coyle and Bob Huebner. 

Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts' true passion for providing educational opportunities to our learning community has proven not only inspirational to her husband but also extremely impactful in the lives of the thousands of students with whom she has interacted during the 18 years she has served at Peirce.  Her own academic credentials are formidable:  she has a BA in Psychology from Rowan University, an MS in Counseling from Rider University, and her Ed.D. from Rowan University.  And the Peirce family connections don't stop with her husband, since her twin sister Renee Toliver-Bailey also graduated from the College. 

Through their individual achievements, David and Rita are proud to provide a strong example of the value of education for their two children, David and Sydney.  Nowhere has this fact been better demonstrated than on a very special night in June 2012 at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.  At that year's Commencement ceremony, Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts had the honor of presenting her husband David with his Peirce diploma.   

Don’t you just love it when a Valentine’s Day story has a picture perfect ending …especially one which finds Peirce at the heart of the tale!  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Want To Be An Entrepreneur … Do I Need A Business Degree?

There is a common misconception out there that if you want to be an entrepreneur then there is not much value for you in a traditional business degree.  Aspiring entrepreneurs may see higher education as a distraction of time and money that would be better spent focusing on their start up.  So, we will address the misconception—why would a would-be entrepreneur earn a business degree?

First, when entrepreneurs, who are naturally wired a little differently than most in terms of their drive, perseverance, and risk-taking, receive the foundation in business emphasized in the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management concentration of our Business Administration program, they acquire a broader skill set for the adventure upon which they are embarking. They are more readily able to tackle the diverse challenges and risks associated with running a business, outside of the unique skills they already bring to the table, and thus are more realistic, calculated, and successful in their endeavors.

For many potential entrepreneurs, so much of what holds them back from achieving their goals stems from a fear of failure, which then turns into a fear of trying. What you gain from the Peirce concentration in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management is a solid foundation and a laboratory to test ideas with professors and classmates. You learn the theories, and then you put them right into practice to see how they work, and how you specifically can make them work for your unique entrepreneurial scenario. This gives you the confidence to take calculated risks, apply the knowledge, and turn those entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

But what about THOSE guys? They didn’t have degrees…

Another classic misconception when it comes to entrepreneurs and business degrees is that some of the greatest business founders of our time were early university dropouts. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. There was not a degree among them when they started their now iconic companies.

There are a few ways to diffuse this one. First, by looking at the outliers, of which Steve, Mark, and Bill certainly are, you will rarely find a blueprint for success. For every Jobs, Zuckerberg, or Gates, there are millions of aspiring entrepreneurs without degrees who are not successful in their endeavors.

Next, there is the concept of 10,000 hours, which is roughly how long it takes to master a craft. In each of their cases, these gentlemen easily logged that amount of time in computer science, programming, and the world of technology, which was the basis of their companies. To compensate for their lack of degree, each of these titans also had college educated business minds by their side; they made sure that while they were focusing on their core competencies (such as computer programming), they had experts in business guiding them along the way. Without those yins to their yang, these companies may not have reached the staggering heights that they were able to achieve over the past several decades.

At Peirce, our entrepreneurship education is interwoven within the business administration degree program. You get the benefit of a solid business foundation – the accounting, finance, management, marketing, core business principals – along with an understanding of economics, and how commerce works at a macro and micro level.

We then expand on that by then channeling our students into the applied learning process by taking some of the theoretical concepts and applying them to entrepreneurial and small business scenarios. What students experience in our entrepreneur classes is in a safe environment, a laboratory of sorts, where we explore ideas, research them, and apply the concepts that we have learned. By doing this, students are able to better craft projections of where they think their business concept could go.

It is this safe environment, along with real-time feedback from our professors (some of whom here at Peirce are also successful entrepreneurs and business owners themselves), that can help to foster the entrepreneurial spirit, dispel the fear of failure, and set you up with a bedrock of business knowledge to help ensure success.

To learn more about how a degree can support your entrepreneurial endeavors, visit the Business Administration, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management Degree page on the Peirce website.

Monday, February 9, 2015

President Mergiotti Featured in Philadelphia Business Journal

For nearly six years, President Jim Mergiotti has been leading the charge for innovation here at Peirce College and for higher education in general. Recently, he was celebrated for this and his student-centric approach in a feature by the Philadelphia Business Journal where he was named one of The Future Transformers of Philadelphia!

In the article, the PBJ details some of his achievements and innovations, from the beginning of Peirce Online in 2000, which gave students a new realm of flexibility in course options, to the school’s first master’s degree program in Organizational Leadership & Management, which the College introduced in 2013

President Mergiotti featured in Philadelphia Business Journal as a Future Transformer
(Click to enlarge)
President Mergiotti was a unanimous selection in 2009 as the college’s seventh president, after serving as Peirce’s VP of Administration and, subsequently, as its Chief Operating Officer over the prior eleven years. In his own words, Peirce College “is in the business of transforming lives” of non-traditional college students of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. "We provide skills, knowledge and experiences that in return provide a lifetime of opportunity for students.”

As we celebrate the College’s 150th anniversary, President Mergiotti is already laying the foundation for Peirce innovations over the next 100 years. “I envision Peirce being the recognized higher education leader in providing adult learners a direct and customized path to employer-valued skills and credentials,” he states on our 150th anniversary website.

At Peirce College, we appreciate President Mergiotti’s guidance, leadership, and innovative spirit and congratulate him on being listed as a Future Transformer of Philadelphia!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A History of Diversity at Peirce College

This month’s 150th anniversary cartoon celebrates Peirce’s focus on inclusion and the celebration of our diverse backgrounds.

Peirce has always had a long-standing commitment to diversity. As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, we look back and reflect on our place in the history of diversity in education, from being one of the first schools to accept women students, to creating a breakthrough Spanish-American department, and taking a public stance on issues of the day that impact our diverse culture.

(Click to enlarge)
Peirce College Celebrates Diversity and Inclusion.

At Peirce College, we recognize the importance diversity brings to the classroom and throughout our institution. As a result, we promote a culture that embraces and respects different qualities and abilities, and recognizes the unique contributions that individuals with varying backgrounds and perspectives provide. It’s one of the core tenants that has made Peirce College who we are for the past 150 years.

Learn more about Peirce’s commitment to Diversity by exploring our Diversity & Inclusion page.  There you’ll find resources, editorial, upcoming events, and more, all of which support and encourage our student body and our community at large.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Peirce Black History Month Committee to Host a Gathering of Community Voices

Time and time again we’ve seen how an open dialogue from groups with varying points of view contribute to long-lasting solutions for a variety of issues facing our community. The different experiences, knowledge, and voices offer insights that aren’t always apparent to all parties concerned with overcoming challenges they are passionate about. In short, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In homage of Black History Month, Peirce invites you to join us in a dialogue aimed at improving relationships and awareness across cultures. On Friday, Februrary 27th, Peirce’s Black History Month Committee will host a discussion that features a panel of leaders from academia, business, community, government, religious, and law enforcement in an effort to bridge disconnects and inspire a stronger culture of trust.

This cross-culture discussion will include  tools, resources, and opportunities for improved relationships across cultures by leaders from varied sectors of our community.

Date: Friday, February 27, 2015
Location:  Peirce College, 1420 Pine Street,  Rooms 51-52, College Hall
Time:  5:30 – 7:30 PM
Light Refreshments will be served

This Gathering of Community Voices will be open to Peirce students and the broader community. To RSVP, email or call 215-670-9094 by no later than Wednesday, February 25th. We hope you’ll join us and contribute your voice to this important discussion.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Students, Strengthen your Leadership Skills with our Retreat!

At Peirce College, we understand that many of our students want to earn their college degree so they can transition into leadership roles, apply for new positions at different organizations, and take the next step in their careers.  We encourage students to spend their time at Peirce honing the leadership skills they will need to meet these goals, and taking advantage of opportunities inside and outside of the classroom.

Each year, The Walker Center for Academic Excellence sponsors a Student Leadership Retreat.  We invite students to take some time away from their busy lives to focus on building their leadership skills and abilities in an environment that is outside of the classroom.  The retreat is focused on a variety of workshops and activities to develop and strengthen communication skills, emotional leadership, strategic decision making, and personal brand identity.  

At the end of the retreat, students have a chance to incorporate these skills and show off their personal brand in a leadership presentation for their peers.   And it’s not just business! We understand that our students are juggling multiple responsibilities, including school, work and family, and we make sure that the retreat incorporates downtime so that students can enjoy the time away and relax. 

To learn more about what attendees take away from this annual event, you can read one student’s perspective after attending our retreat last year here.

This year’s retreat will be held from March 14 through March 15 at ACE Conference Center in Lafayette Hill, Penn. We’ll provide transportation to and from the retreat.  Attendees are asked to attend a mandatory orientation, either online or on campus. We require a $20 non-refundable deposit for registration. If you’re interested in the opportunity, contact the Walker Center at 888.467.3472, ext. 9251, or email Spots are filling up quickly, so give us a call today!

Remembering Joesph T. Steuer, devoted Peirce College Board Member

It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of a member of the Peirce College Board of Trustees, Joesph T. Steuer, who passed away this past Saturday.

Joe was elected to the Peirce Board in February 2012.  Prior to that, he advised the College’s trustees on the selection of an investment firm to manage its portfolio assets.  In a relatively short time as a Peirce trustee, Joe made significant contributions to the College’s governance. He served as Chair of the Finance and Investment Committee and as a member of the Executive and Audit, Risk & Compliance Committees.   Most notably, Joe brought a great deal of energy to his work for Peirce and always demonstrated a high degree of enthusiasm for the College’s mission.   

Joe was born in Queens in New York City. He graduated from Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and earned an MBA from New York University. He began his career as an auditor with Grant Thornton before joining the Campbell Soup Company in 1981.

When he became the Executive Vice President, Treasurer & Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Philadelphia Zoo in 2000, Joe achieved his professional goal of becoming a CFO. In 2012, Joe said that the fact that he achieved this goal at such an iconic organization was “icing on the cake.”

Outside of his professional life, Joe enjoyed listening to 60s rock and roll music and served as Chair of the Whitpain Township Shade Tree Commission, where he organized the distribution of 7500 free trees in his community.

The College extends our most heartfelt condolences to Joe’s family: his wife, Constance; his children, Matthew and Mark Steur, Katherine Killen, and Frank Cannon IV; and his brother, John.

We are incredibly grateful for Joe’s contributions to the College. His passion for Peirce’s mission of serving working adults will never be forgotten.