Elizabethtown College

Posted on July 1, 2012

Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning

The mission of Elizabethtown College is evident on the college’s official seal: Educate for Service. The Newcombe Foundation has partnered with Elizabethtown College since 2009 in supporting Mature Students who are determined to earn their degrees while handling family and work responsibilities and whose primary goal is to benefit others.

Elizabethtown College was founded in 1899 by the Church of the Brethren, one of three historic peace churches. The College grew quickly, achieving full accreditation through the Middle States Association and the American Council of Education Associations by 1950.

Through the 20th century, the College continued to grow in size, quality and prestige. Currently, it provides over 1,800 traditional students with educational opportunities in both liberal and professional studies. In addition to providing several undergraduate degrees for traditional students, the College also invested in creating new degree programs for non-traditional undergraduate and graduate students through the Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning. A natural extension of Elizabethtown College, the Center offers the region’s most convenient academic programs for adult students. It also puts into practice the College’s belief that learning is life-long and most noble when used to benefit others. The commitment to developing strong programs designed to meet the needs of today’s continuing education students has allowed the College to generate strong interest in and wonderful opportunities for all students, including the scholarship recipients of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholarship for Mature Students.

The Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning

One distinction of Elizabethtown College is that its new president, Dr. Carl J. Strikwerda, was one of the first recipients of the prestigious Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships administered by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. To date, he is the first known Newcombe Fellow to preside over a college that awards Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholarships for Mature Students.

To further the overall goals of the College, the Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning (the Center) reaches mature students, particularly women, who would otherwise not have access to the benefits of a college education. The Center currently enrolls over 625 students at its four locations in central Pennsylvania, including the Elizabethtown College campus and in the cities of Harrisburg, Lancaster and York. Of the students enrolled in the Center, sixty-three percent are women. In addition, fifty-nine percent of the Center’s students are mature women over the age of twenty-five.

The Center’s mission is to promote life-long learning through programs for adult students who must balance their academic goals with the demands of work and family. Classes are offered in the classroom in the evenings and on weekends, as well as online. All class formats emphasize personal attention and utilize affiliated faculty, which is specially-assessed by a team of evaluators in five skill areas. Each faculty member is a working practitioner in his or her field and possesses a master’s or terminal degree.

Undergraduate and graduate classes through the Center are all structured in an accelerated format. Learners take one course at a time, allowing them to concentrate on one subject instead of managing two or three courses at a time. Students are also better able to focus on other aspects of their lives such as work and family. Nearly all students work full- or part-time while pursuing their studies.

Flexibility is also an important benefit to adult learners. As a result, the Center offers a convenient step in/step out program. Should something occur such as working overtime, a business trip, a major life event or the student just needs a break, he or she can take a hiatus for a five-week session and pick up again in the next five-week session that fits the student’s schedule. Because so many of the Center’s students work full-time, counseling and support services are made accessible through Smarthinking, an online tutoring service and writing lab. Online tutors are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The writing lab offers advice on how to improve every aspect of a student’s writing. Students can receive assistance in a number of subjects, including reading, math, science, business and computers and technology.

Rosa, Class of 2010, Magna Cum Laude

Admissions representatives and academic advisors are present at each of the four campus locations for convenience and for personalized support to the students. Academic advisors meet with students to assist in scheduling future classes, offering technical support and paying attention to pertinent student needs. In addition, advisors encourage students to seek help at the Career Services Center for job searches and career change information. Workshops are held three times a year to assist students with resume writing, networking and interviewing.

An Elizabethtown College education provides an outstanding foundation for graduate studies and lives of purposeful work and service. However, many of our students, including students enrolled in the Center, find the costs of an education to be daunting.

To ensure that these financial challenges do not prevent qualified students from enrolling, increasing endowed scholarship aid is a top priority for the College. Providing additional aid to Mature Students is a key element to that goal. The Newcombe Scholarships for Mature Students help to alleviate this challenge. The need for scholarships clearly exists as the Center experiences an increasing number of applications for awards each year.

Elizabethtown College began its relationship with the Newcombe Foundation in 2009-10 with a unique approach to funding Newcombe Scholarships. Of the $25,000 annual grant, only $1,000 is designated for current use (and matched by the College) and the rest is contributed to an endowed fund (also matched by the College). The Center awarded two Newcombe Scholarships of $1,000 each to Mature Students in 2009-10. Three $1,000 scholarships were awarded in 2010-11, as the proceeds of the endowed fund grew, and the number doubled to six scholarships in 2011-12. In 2012-13, the Center is hoping to present eight to ten scholarships.

The scholarship donations received from the Newcombe Foundation – and matched by Elizabethtown College – change the lives of Mature Students enrolled in the Center. A highlight of success resulting from this support includes the strong persistence and graduation rate of the women. To date, of the eleven students receiving Newcombe Scholarships since 2009, five have graduated (one Magna Cum laude) and three have four or fewer courses left to complete their degrees.

The impact of the Newcombe Scholarships for Mature Students has been widely felt as noted in the stories of our student-recipients.

Shannon’s story

At an early age, Shannon always found a way to make ends meet. She began waitressing at 16, and later started tending bar. After high school, she attended a state university to study business, but left after 2 years. By 23, she was married and had her first child. After her second child came along, she became tired of the long hours, late nights, and lack of opportunity associated with working in restaurants.

Elizabethtown College
Shannon, Class of 2011

Unfortunately, her husband passed away at a young age, and she found herself solo parenting two energetic sons. While her jobs brought quick money, enough to support her and her children, she soon realized she would need a degree to bring some stability to her family.

Shannon entered Elizabethtown College in the spring of 2009 to study business administration. Prior to applying for the Newcombe Scholarship for Mature Students, she was terminated from her bartending job due to lack of available hours. The scholarship could not have come at a better time. Since graduation, Shannon has worked up the ladder to be part of the Corporate Executive Team at a national company. “My last class at Elizabethtown was Leadership, and I keep going back to how fitting a class that was in terms of where I am in my career right now,” says Shannon. “I have found an awesome career, and I am so grateful to be able to use my real educational experiences that I received from the CCEDL at Elizabethtown College into growing this business exponentially.”

Marilyn’s story

Pursuing a college degree was never intended to be a part of Marilyn’s life. In fact, she was raised in a religion that did not condone its parishioners’ pursuit of higher education. But from a young age, she dreamed of obtaining a post-secondary education. Quoting Langston Hughes, she would say this became “a dream deferred.”

Elizabethtown College
Marilyn, Class of 2012

At 18 and surviving on her own, she became a secretary and worked part-time in a salon to make ends meet. By age 26, Marilyn had been married and she had also become a single mother of two. To support herself and her children, she secured a Small Business Association loan and began her own business, which soon thrived. After 10 years, she closed her business to take an administrative job with more security and benefits for her family. This gave her the chance to return to her dream of entering college.

In 2008, Marilyn entered Elizabethtown College and by May 2010, earned her Associate Degree in Corporate Communications, all while working two jobs and raising two teenagers. She was a recipient of the Newcombe Scholarship for Mature Students in 2011. Marilyn received her Bachelor’s degree at graduation in May 2012. It is her hope in the very near future to begin her pursuit of a master’s degree in Communications.

For further information about the Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning, please visit www.etowndegrees.com