Despite the pandemic, St. Francis College has not slowed down any of its plans for the future during the past year and a half. In fact, the school announced several expansions to its curriculum, as well as the opening of a new campus next fall.
Jennifer Lancaster, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, discussed the exciting things happening at St. Francis now and in the future.
“As St. Francis College continues to grow, we will ensure that our students have access to competitive academic programs in emerging and in-demand fields, including healthcare, education, business, and technology,” she said during a recent interview. “As part of our commitment through SFC Forward, we’re excited to offer innovative and flexible curricula that will help springboard them into successful and fulfilling careers, service and leadership in the 21st century global workforce.”
The four new master of science degrees in exercise & sport science, special education, sports management, and public
health are part of the larger SFC Forward initiative, a long-term plan to modernize and make St. Francis competitive in the 21st century.
The centerpiece of the initiative is a new campus set to open in September of 2022, which will come equipped with state-of-the-art amenities and allow St. Francis to welcome an ever-increasing number of students. In fall 2020, the school welcomed its largest first-year class ever.
The relocation will move St. Francis a few blocks away from its current location and into a new 254,699-square-foot space across the fifth, six, and seventh floors of the Wheeler Building at 181 Livingston Street.
Located above the art deco Macy’s on Livingston Street, the new campus was purposely designed to drive community engagement and innovation.
The facility includes flexible labs and classrooms, a 300-seat auditorium, a 260-seat cafeteria with kitchen, a screening room for films, a 6,600-square-foot library, and outdoor terraces with views of the city.
“Our students deserve nothing less than an education that meets the demands of the 21st century economy,” Lancaster added. “SFC Forward ensures that we are immersing our students in global perspectives and learning experiences, expanding into emerging fields, and reinforcing students as critical thinkers, leaders and lifelong learners.”
St. Francis College’s initial announcement of the campus move drew some skepticism from alumni, who were concerned that the school would cut athletic and academic programs as a result.
However, the college has since confirmed that no programs will be terminated because of the move, going so far as to announce even more curriculum expansions since the campus change was revealed.
These new learning options include the creation of a special STEM collaborative to support Hispanic students, who along with Black students make up the majority of St. Francis College’s student body. Additionally, the school announced several expansions to its online degree programs throughout the pandemic, including a new, fully online post-baccalaureate certification program for early childhood education
Lancaster said that these new options will allow St. Francis to remain committed and flexible to serving the needs of students as the school continues to contend with the pandemic and prepares to move into its new campus.
“SFC is deeply committed to removing barriers to higher education in every way we can, which is consistent with our values of inclusivity and respect of all people,” said Lancaster. “Some people’s work or family commitments — or the commute to a college campus — can make in- person classes untenable. Technology and best-in-class teaching techniques mean outcomes of online education are on par with those from traditional classrooms.”
The new campus will include innovative technology in all classrooms, allowing students and faculty to engage in both online and face-to-face instruction.
St. Francis College’s fall open house is Saturday, October 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Although the new campus is not open yet, the event will feature an in-depth look into the state-of- the-art facility and recently expanded curriculum.