A History of Continuing Education at E-town

The School of Continuing and Professional Studies has been serving adult learners in Central Pennsylvania since 1951. Here's a look at us throughout the years: Highlights | Full History


  • 1899 - Elizabethtown College founded
  • 1951 - Harrisburg Area College Center established between Elizabethtown and Lebanon Valley College to provide afternoon and evening classes to adults.
  • 1966 - Center renamed University Center at Harrisburg; Temple, Penn State and University of Pennsylvania join program
  • 1972 - Center for Community Education established as a separate College unit
  • 1980s and 1990s - new academic programs added
  • 1990 - Institute for Learning in Retirement launches, providing credit-free courses
  • 2001 - Center renamed Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning (CCEDL); accelerated course format begins
  • 2003 - Elizabethtown partners with F&M College to offer classes in downtown Lancaster
  • 2004 - Weekend-intensive classes offered for first time
  • 2006 - James B. Hoover Center for Business dedicated
  • 2009 - York Center opens
  • 2010 - First fully online majors offered
  • 2011 - Received the 2011 Excellence in Innovation Award
  • 2012 - MBA program established; first separate CCEDL Commencement ceremony held
  • 2013 - Center renamed Elizabethtown College School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS)
  • 2017 - Lancaster undergraduate courses move to Lancaster Theological Seminary

Full History

Elizabethtown College was founded in 1899 by the Church of the Brethren, one of three historic peace churches. Today, the College is a private liberal arts higher education institution with approximately 2,400 students (approximately 1,800 primarily residential students and 600 adult part-time students.

Formal accreditation was granted by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction.

Formal accreditation was granted by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

Elizabethtown and Lebanon Valley College established the Harrisburg Area College Center, providing college-level classes in the afternoon and evenings for adult students in the Harrisburg area. Classes were first held in the Central High School building in Harrisburg, and credits could be applied toward a degree at either Elizabethtown or LVC.

This joint venture was so successful that Temple University, Penn State, and the University of Pennsylvania later joined in the program so that the Center was able to offer graduate work as well. Robert A. Byerly, a professor of religion at Elizabethtown, was the center's first director, and A. C. Baugher the first chairman of the board. In 1966 the name was changed to the University Center at Harrisburg, and by the end of the 1960s an average semester had an enrollment of up to 1,500 students and a six-acre campus complete with classroom building, offices, and a library. It still flourishes as the Dixon University Center, part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and Elizabethtown College continues to offer classes there.

The College established the Center for Community Education as an autonomous, self-governing unit to provide educational opportunities for adults, professionals, retirees and other students who were not able to participate in the College's residential programming. The mission of the Center was to extend the boundaries of the College's learning community to include a wider and more diverse population, thereby mutually enriching the institution and the community. The Center was and still is guided by the belief that learning is life-long and most noble when used to benefit others.

New programs and majors were added with the goal of continually addressing the needs of working adults. The Center's programs were innovative for the time. They recognized the unique qualities and experiences that adult learners bring with them into the academic environment. An early example of the College's support of the value of experiential learning is the Excel Program, a degree completion program that has, as its foundation, the idea that work experience can be equated to college level learning for students who have acquired advanced knowledge in their field through real-world learning. This program is still in existence today and the concept of experiential/real-world learning has become part of commonly accepted practice in higher education and a mark of educational excellence for an institution.

The Center started the Institute for Learning in Retirement, a program committed to offering lifelong learning opportunities to older adults in the community. Each semester, a series of classes is offered in subject areas such as politics, computer and Internet technology, history, biographies, sciences, art and religion. There are no tests or grades. Classes are held during the day at the main campus and at various local senior living communities. The classes are taught by College faculty and staff as well as experts from the community. Trips to places of cultural interest are offered as well.

The Center added majors in Computer Science/Information Systems and Corporate Communications. Non-credit programming was also offered, including computer classes and continuing education workshops for realtors, accountants and social workers.

The Strategic Plan for Elizabethtown College 1998 recognized the pressing need to recommit Elizabethtown College to continuing education efforts in order to increase the number of non-traditional learners taking part in the life of the College.

Students from Japan's Nihon University first came to visit Elizabethtown College in the summer and have visited almost annually since then. The program is run by a SCPS staff member in collaboration with the College's Modern Languages Department faculty. During the three-week visit, students strengthen English language skills and learn more about American culture. During their stay, they visit New York, Washington, D.C., HersheyPark and other area attractions. The students also experience a weekend stay with an American host family.

With the hiring of a new Dean of Continuing Education, the newly named Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning (CCEDL) added enhanced services that were specific to the needs of working adult students. These changes included going from a traditional 15 week semester to a series of five-week sessions in which students are focused on studying one course at a time, offering student services within the unit (a one-stop shop), offering the College's first online courses, and delivering personalized academic advising services to support students from their initial classes to their ultimate successful degree completion.

The Council on Academic Management (CAM) was established as the academic governance system that maintains and revises the Center's liberal education core program and all of its professional majors. This innovative model of governance includes representation from faculty, student, alumni, community and administrative groups.

The Center also added a new major in Criminal Justice to its array of programs. This program was developed collaboratively with the College and accomplished professionals working in the Criminal Justice field. This model, of working with professional experts to develop curriculum, has been vital to the relevance, richness and strength of the Center's programs and ultimately enhanced student learning outcomes.

Elizabethtown commenced a partnership with Franklin & Marshall College to offer its accelerated degree programs in Lancaster on the F&M campus. This collaborative agreement allows adult learners from the Lancaster community to take classes and complete their Elizabethtown degree right in their own community, utilizing F&M classrooms, library, bookstore and campus. Services offered in Lancaster include both admissions and academic advising services.

The Center began administering the Noel-Levitz Adult Learner Inventory (ALI) to our adult learners on an annual basis to measure student satisfaction with and student importance assigned to eight different scales of effectiveness. The inventory allows for comparisons with national norms for each scale. Elizabethtown College adult learners report high levels of satisfaction (consistently beating national norms) with the Center's programming, outreach and service to non-traditional students.

Also, a new course delivery format was initiated: weekend intensives. These courses run for one weekend: Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Learners are then required to complete a major research paper which is due approximately two and one half weeks after the weekend session. This addition enhanced the available session options for students and added an interdisciplinary academic learning opportunity.

Cindy Rose was named Facilitator of the Year.The annual award honors one facilitator per year whose length of service, dedication to adult learners and development of course work goes above and beyond expectations.

Brendan McDonnell was named Facilitator of the Year.

On September 14, the College celebrated the opening and dedication of the James B. Hoover Center for Business. The ceremony recognized the three donors whose support – along with gifts from area foundations, alumni, parents and friends –allowed the College to build the $5.2 million Center: S. Dale High of Lancaster, James B. Hoover of Locust Valley, N.Y., and Edward R. Murphy of Lynbrook, N.Y.

The Center found a home in this new building through the generous support of Mr. Edward R. Murphy. The two-story, 30,000-square foot facility offered the Center a new and more professional suite of offices and the ability to provide enhanced services to students in a more modern environment. Dr. Dick Tushup was named Facilitator of the Year.

In January, 11 adult learners, along with 18 traditional students and several faculty and staff members, traveled to D'Iberville, Miss. to serve those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. In partnership with the Lend A Hand organization, the students worked various rebuilding efforts. Also as a part of the service-learning trip, students took a course called "Volunteerism and Service Learning on the Gulf Coast." Dr. John Kokolus was named Facilitator of the Year.

The SCPS Deans List was implemented. (Official notations were added to the transcripts in 2011.) Ron McKinley was named Facilitator of the Year.

The Center expands its outreach by opening The York Center, allowing adult learners from York County to take classes and complete their Elizabethtown degree right in their own community. Also, the Center signed an agreement with Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) to deliver the Business Administration program onsite at HACC Lancaster.

The College was awarded a grant from the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation to establish an endowed scholarship fund for bachelor's degree-seeking students, 25 years and older, who demonstrate financial need. Through the generosity of Mr. Edward R. Murphy, the fund continues to grow and will provide scholarship assistance for increasing numbers of students in the future.

The Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools visited and reaccredited the College. The Center's programming and assessment of learning processes were commended by the visiting team. Lori Seiders was named Facilitator of the Year.

The Center added its first fully online majors: Human Services and Human Services Behavioral and Addictions Counseling. These programs were developed collaboratively with the Harrisburg Area Community College and accomplished professionals working in the Human Services field. Rita Brietenbach was named Facilitator of the Year.

The Center received the 2011 Excellence in Innovation Award given by the Commission for Accelerated Programs (CAP), an international membership organization serving professionals who lead, teach, and conduct research in accelerated programs in higher education.

In order to be selected for this honor, institutions had to provide descriptions and examples of innovative research or practice by an individual or team resulting in significant contribution to the instruction of adult learners or to advancing service and access to nontraditional student populations. The Center was recognized for innovation in the areas of overall governance and structure, admissions and marketing, programs and delivery features, standards and assessments, and faculty development. Mike Staub was named Facilitator of the Year.

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) program started in January, with classes offered in Harrisburg and Lancaster. The blended program incorporates a mix of classroom-based, Internet-based and weekend immersions to ensure the flexibility needed by busy working adults.

May 19 was the first time the College held a separate Commencement for CCEDL students. The ceremony was held at Leffler Chapel and 103 graduates walked on stage to accept their Elizabethtown College degree. Edward R. Murphy, trustee and CCEDL benefactor and Charlotte W. Newcombe Endowed Scholarship benefactor, was the guest speaker.

The Center established the Chi Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda (ASL) Honor Society in 2000. ASL is a nationally recognized honor society for non-traditional students, in recognition of their academic achievement. The first induction ceremony was held on Sunday, March 25, 2012. Elizabethtown College's Chi Epsilon Chapter inducted 11 adult learners as members. Linda Beck was named Facilitator of the Year.

The Center began offering the Business Administration major in a 100-percent online format. This represents the Center's third fully online major. The College remains committed to delivering academic programs in the way that best fits the needs of the adult learner. Students have embraced the Center's online program offerings.

The Edward R. Murphy Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning (CCEDL) became the Elizabethtown College School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS). This change affirms the important role adult students have and will continue to have in higher education and at Elizabethtown College.