In a time when many are cutting back, Alvernia University is investing in the Schuylkill County area, with a new 10,400 square foot facility opening in the Cressona Mall. A ribbon cutting was held on Thursday.

Alvernia is addressing a community void by expanding into the Cressona Mall, filling space once occupied by retailers.

"It's clear that more adult learners are continuing their education in order to get a leg-up in a challenging economy," says Dean Kathy Davis, Ph.D., associate vice president for adult education. "Our goal is to fill a growing need for educational opportunities and prepare area residents to advance in their careers, or start new ones."

For the past 10 years, the university had shared space with the McCann Business School, located about six miles from the new Cressona Mall site.

The new central location (at the intersections of routes 61 and 183) will make Alvernia's bachelor's and master's programs even more accessible to the local community with nearby bus routes and plenty of free parking.

"We want to help adult students to successfully juggle a personal life and job responsibilities while earning a top-quality education that will serve them long after they've graduated from Alvernia," said Davis. "A larger location in the heart of Schuylkill County will help us do just that."

"Alvernia's investment in the new Center demonstrates our commitment to adult education," said Mary Sacavage, Ph.D, Director of the Schuylkill Center.

The facility will have eight classrooms, two laptop computer labs, SMART classroom technology, and generous lounge areas for students and staff.

"The SMART technology will allow instructors to use computers and sophisticated audio-visual equipment in their discussions," said Sacavage.

As adult learners continue to look for better career avenues, many will take advantage of the Alvernia Schuylkill Center's flexible evening and weekend schedule.

"We take pride in giving each student the personal attention and support that everyone needs in today's 'fast-paced, take-a-number' society," explained Sacavage. "We want to be a partner in lifelong learning, long after our students graduate."

Alvernia is a private coeducational Franciscan University rooted in the Catholic and liberal arts traditions. It was founded in 1958 by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, a Catholic religious order.

The University enrolls 2,800 students including 1,400 traditional undergraduates, 620 continuing education students, and 780 graduate and doctoral students across three Pennsylvania campuses – a 121-acre campus in Reading and two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville, and offers 50 undergraduate programs of study including pre-professional programs in medicine, dentistry, law, and veterinary medicine.

On the graduate level, it offers one doctoral program, six master's degrees, graduate-level certification programs for education professionals, and a Seniors College for persons age 55 and over.

Its mission is to provide a rigorous, caring, and inclusive learning community committed to academic excellence and to being and fostering broadly educated lifelong learners, reflective professionals and engaged citizens, and ethical learners with moral courage.