Warwick will officially welcome another institution of higher learning to the city next Wednesday, when Salve Regina University officially opens their Graduate Studies and Continuing Education facility on Metro Center Boulevard.
Salve’s continuing education and graduation studies center was originally located in Pawtucket, but space constraints led the university to begin looking elsewhere earlier in the year.
Tracy Warrington, the Dean of Professional Studies for Salve, said Warwick was a good fit for the institution because of the city’s centrality and easy access.
“Newport is wonderful and we have a beautiful campus there,” said Warrington, “but there’s something about those bridges.”
Warrington called the bridges a “barrier” to students who commute from other parts of the state. With easy access to major thoroughfares like Routes 2, 4 and 95, Warwick was a clear choice for the school, which is looking to expand.
Salve left their 4,500-square foot facility in Pawtucket for the roomier 12,000-square foot space that formerly housed Americana Financial Services. Salve is leasing the space, which was custom tailored to their needs by the landlord of the property.
What used to be cubicles is now an expansive space for education, featuring nine classrooms and a computer lab. Salve’s former location only had four classrooms.
The new location houses classes for adults looking to further their education by either completing a bachelor’s degree with existing credits, or by earning a master’s degree. The school will offer bachelor’s degrees in Accounting, Marketing, Business Administration and a R.N. to B.S. program for nurses who already have their Registered Nurse license but not their undergrad degree. They also offer a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies, which allows students who have amassed various different credits to earn a degree using them.
Master’s degrees are offered in Business Administration, Administration of Justice and Homeland Security, Health Care Administration and Management and Rehabilitation Counseling. Graduate certificates are offered in Management, as well as Cybersecurity and Intelligence.
Warrington said the courses are geared toward those who work and have families to tend to, with classes offered in the evening.
Mayor Scott Avedisian called Salve’s move to Warwick “tremendous news for the city.”
“This exciting development will give even more of our residents exposure to a world-class educational institution,” said Avedisian in an email. “By enrolling in courses at Salve, our residents will be able to receive a topnotch educational experience.”
The center currently has three full-time staff members, and one full-time faculty member. Most of the courses will be taught by adjunct faculty, or by professors from the Newport campus. On their busiest nights this fall, Warrington said they would be using six of the nine classrooms; on other nights, they’ll use three or four.
All of the nine classrooms are outfitted with projectors and computer stations that will allow professors to use technology to enhance their curriculum. Warrington said some teachers use Skype, a tele-video communication program, to communicate with experts in their subject areas. Warrington explained that the teacher of the Spanish for Nurses course uses Skype to connect her students with a Spanish-speaking doctor.
In addition to their high-tech classrooms, there are other spaces tailored to students’ needs. Warrington said students from Salve’s Pawtucket facility, which has housed their graduate and continuing education programs for about six years, were asked what they would like to see in the new space.
“A full-size fridge,” smiled Warrington, who said the students often arrive directly from work and need a place to store their dinners. Besides a roomy kitchen, the students also have a lounge complete with couches and a flat screen TV. Computers can be found in most spaces, with printers available to those who need to print out their homework at the last minute.
Classrooms accommodate 30 to 35 students, and Warrington said they have about 110 students registered for the fall.
“We won’t be at full capacity,” she said. Instead, the space gives the university’s graduate and continuing education program an opportunity to expand. “It will take a couple of years.”
The grand opening of the center will take place Wednesday evening, and the university will offer sample courses to those invited. But, Warrington noted that the celebration would be over by 6:30 p.m.
“It’s our first night of classes,” she said.
Warrington said they hope to have an open house, which the general public can attend, in September.
Students can enroll in classes online or by visiting the center to speak with an enrollment counselor. Bachelor’s classes are $270 per credit, and most are three-credit courses. Graduate classes are similar, and are priced at $445 a credit.
In addition to growing their school, Warrington said Salve is looking forward to partnering with their new community; already, they’ve planned a young professional night in conjunction with the Warwick Chamber of Commerce.
“We really want to become a part of the community,” said Warrington. “We’re looking for these opportunities to partner [with organizations.]”
Of course, Avedisian is pleased to welcome Salve to the city.
“I welcome Salve Regina University to the great educational partners that we already have – the Community College of Rhode Island and Johnson & Wales University,” he said.