Government grant aids SEPCHE schools

By Melissa DiPietrantonio
October 3, 2002

Cabrini students will soon see new courses on global issues as a result of a $750,000 government grant awarded to eight local colleges. The Development of Global Curriculum Grant is aimed at challenging students to develop their knowledge of foreign languages and culture, distinguish associations with history and current issues and team up with peers on oral and written presentations.

Currently, members of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education are working on many projects that will use this money to reach these goals. New courses will be started in Spanish for education and business majors. This grant will also pay for new computers in the language laboratories.

In addition, an online course in Chinese culture is being developed in order to increase diversity. Professor Hong Zhao, who was a visiting scholar to Cabrini two years ago, will teach this course. It will be offered to Cabrini students and other members of the consortium.

Being a part of the consortium also means that Cabrini students are able to use the libraries of the other schools.

SEPCHE is a group of eight independent colleges and universities in the Greater Philadelphia area who get together in order to promote quality and efficiency of academic programming, student access, faculty development, institutional operations and community outreach by sharing an array of activities, services, information and technology. Arcadia University, Chestnut Hill College, Holy Family College, Rosemont College, Immaculata College, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Neumann College and Cabrini form the eight members of SEPCHE.

SEPCHE was an initiative started by the presidents of these colleges. President Antoinette Iadorola was instrumental in getting SEPCHE off the ground. It was formed so that small schools could partner up for the benefit of students, faculty and administrators.

Cabrini and the other seven colleges have received money in the past for other projects. So far, more than $14 million was given to SEPCHE from the federal government, and $639,000 was given in the form of private and state grants. With this money, significant upgrades to classrooms have been made, especially in the science department. New technological and lab equipment have been added to science labs. Faculty development workshops have been offered to enhance teacher experience for the students’ benefit.

The colleges are currently managing four grants, and two more are in the works. Dr. Jonnie Guerra, the vice president for academic affairs, said, “This is a lot of work. It’s like having another job. It’s time consuming, but it’s well worth it.”

Another activity of SEPCHE is an honors conference held each year at the different schools. This conference is a way to showcase students and give them the opportunity to polish their presentation skills. These are most likely the types of presentations students will be making in graduate school and even later on in the work field. This year the fifth annual honors conference will be held at Cabrini in March. Dr. Joseph Romano, a philosophy professor, is the head of the conference.

Sophomore Jodi McHenry said, “Last year the conference was held at Arcadia University and I wrote and read a paper on mortality. It was interesting to see other people’s presentations and it was a really good experience for me. Even though the people in my group wrote about similar topics, it was interesting to hear their different points of view. There were presentations about biology, history, other countries, power point presentations and even music. People sang duets and played instruments. Someone even played a didgeridoo. This year should be more fun because Cabrini’s hosting it.” Guerra said, “We are looking forward to the best honors conference ever on our campus.”

“The college is trying to give students every opportunity they can.” Guerra said. Everything has either a direct or indirect benefit for students. SEPCHE aids in making advancements in technology, the faculty workshops help the teachers learn about new technologies, and the honors conference offers a high level of work to be demonstrated to an audience of peers. Guerra said, “We are always looking for new ways to benefit students. If they have any ideas, they should notify the academic affairs office.”

For more information on SEPCHE:

Dr. Jonnie Guerra – x 8301

Dr. Joseph Romano – x 8103

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Melissa DiPietrantonio

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