This year Siena Heights celebrates the 40th anni-
versary of offering adult
grams. From its humble beginnings in Southfield at a former elementary school (left), the pro-
gram now boasts more than 60 percent of all SHU graduates each year. The ultra-successful Bachelor of Applied Science degree graduated its first students (below) in the late 1970s and has made degree-completion a reality for students from all age groups and backgrounds, furthering the Siena Heights Mission in the process.
Concept of Educating Working Adults Turns into the College for Professional Studies
As the 1960s were known as a time for social experimentation in America, the 1970s had Siena Heights experiencing its own period of educational “counterculture.”
In 1970, then Siena Heights College had named its first lay president, Dr. Hugh Thompson, and was transitioning from all-female student body to a coeducational one. If that evolution wasn’t difficult enough, Thompson brought more of a business and career-focused educational approach to campus, ruffling feathers of some liberal arts-focused faculty and staff of the time.
Thompson’s vision included starting
associate’s degree programs that had a fingerprint more like a two-year technical college, not a private, Catholic, four-year institution. Yet some of these
programs not only survived, but grew and evolved. Soon, the unique Bachelor of Applied Science degree was born.
That degree became the “seed” that allowed Siena Heights to plant campuses around Michigan. First, in Southfield, then spreading to places like Benton Harbor, Battle Creek and Monroe.