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Continuing Education director to retire

Jan Orris
Jan Orris retires on Feb. 3.
1/23/2012 —



Jan Orris, director of continuing education at Penn State New Kensington, will retire Feb. 3 after 15 years at the post. In his position, he was responsible for credit and noncredit programming, on-site business and industry training, and youth activities.

Working the field of higher education for more than 30 years, Orris joined the campus community in 1997 after serving at Point Park University, Seton Hill University, and Westmoreland County Community College. Under his leadership, the continuing education offerings expanded to include the Organizational Leadership program that began in 2005 and the MBA program that begins in the fall.

Known by the acronym OLEAD, Organizational Leadership is a bachelor's degree program that is designed to meet the needs of adult learners, nontraditional students who are at least 24-years old. The program draws on many disciplines of the liberal arts to focus on issues that all leaders face regarding work and employment issues. Under Orris' direction, New Kensington leads all Penn State commonwealth campuses with 48 students enrolled in the program. In addition to the on-campus program, OLEAD is offered at three other locations: Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood, Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry, and Pittsburgh Mills in Frazier. In 2010, Orris received the "Good to Great Enrollment Driver" award for his work in recruiting adult learners for the Organizational Leadership program.

The MBA program is Orris’ farewell gift to the campus. A work-in-progress for 12 years, the program was officially approved in December, nearly six weeks before his retirement. The campus will partner with Penn State Erie, The Behrend College to offer the MBA degree at the Regional Learning Alliance in Cranberry, Pa.

“It is so satisfying to see adult students completing their OLEAD degrees after many years,” said Orris, who has served on the Continuing Education Association of Pennsylvania board since its inception in 1989. “It means so much that Penn State alums will finally be able to earn their MBA degree at the Regional Learning Alliance."

A pet project of Orris, the alliance was established in 2004 with the cooperation of educational institutions in the region. It offers a variety of degree programs and workforce training for adult and traditional students. Penn State New Kensington is a charter member of the alliance.

“Dr. Orris was a great colleague and I will certainly miss his professionalism, dedication to Penn State and his wit,” said Arlene Hall, diretcior of academic affairs at the campus. “Jan worked tirelessly to provide the highest quality programming for individuals, corporations and service agencies within our region.”

Orris holds a doctorate degree in higher education administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He served on the Continuing Education Association Board of Pennsylvania (CEA/PA) since its inception in 1989, including four terms as president. The Greensburg resident was the founder of the Pittsburgh chapter of CEA/PA which comprises colleges and universities in the western region of the state.

“I have been fortunate to work with the best continuing education team on the planet,” said Orris, whose hobbies include reading and travelling. “I look forward to the next part of my journey. I already have plans to travel to the Keys and Tortola.”

The campus will honor Orris’ service to Penn State at a retirement luncheon that is slated for noon, Friday, Feb. 3, in the Conference Center. Guests are asked to RSVP to Sharon Levett, sql1@psu.edu or 724-334-6012 or Beth Nury, bxn10@psu.edu or 724-334-6011.

For more about Continuing Education programs at the campus, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/CE/programs.htm online.

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