SCSU and Gateway team up for new specialization

Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter

In collaboration with Gateway Community College, Southern Connecticut State University will soon be offering a degree track for individuals desiring to work in the utility industry. The specialization will be offered in the school of Business. Southern students will, starting next September, be able to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a specialization in public utility administration.

Students can start their degrees at Gateway, receiving an associate’s, then finish at Southern. Students also have the option of starting and finishing their studies at Southern.

According to Larry Bingaman, president and executive officer at the Regional Water Authority, the main driving force behind the program is that nearly one-third of the organization’s employees are within five years of retirement age. Bingaman and his organization need to create a way to fill the spots for qualified employees.  

Richard Bassett, department chair for Southern’s Management program, believes the new specialization will add another diverse element to the Business major.

“The program was designed to be able to educate the workforce who might be interested in working for utilities, in electric, water, etcetera,” said Bassett. “The workforce is apparently graying in those fields.”

In order to create replacements for the workers who are on the verge of retiring, Bassett believes new employees need to be trained in the years to come.

“Essentially, there is a need to get new people ready for the positions,” said Bassett.

Southern is not alone in their work to rectify this impending issue.

“This program is a collaboration with Gateway, in that students can start at Gateway and finish at Southern,” said Bassett. “This program is running through the management department and it will be one of the concentrations that we will offer students. The new doors this opens is that it will clear the path for students to be considered for positions that they otherwise could not have gotten before.”

According to Bassett, in the past, these industries would usually hire from within.

“Now the industries recognize that they need to look beyond their traditional recruiting methods,” said Bassett.

“We have not had any students show interest in the program yet because it was just approved in December and it has not really been publicized yet,” said Bassett. “So, we do not really know what the public opinion is on the program although it has been very well received at the Board of Regents and by the industry partners that have looked at it. The Chamber of Commerce in New Haven is very excited about it. We are encouraged by all of that.”

The department plans to begin advertising the program only after they work all of the details out, Bassett stated. These details include where the courses will be, whether at Gateway or Southern, and who will teach the courses, meaning the universities may need to hire more faculty members to meet the needs of the new program.

“I think it will be an exciting program for students who are interested in working in the utilities area,” said Bassett. “Utilities are the things that tend to be recession-proof. People are always going to need electricity, water, gas, etcetera, and probably sustainable energies in the future. This provides a path students might be interested in for their careers.”

Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas


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