William Penn University Human Services Program

Introduction

William Penn University is a private university located in Oskaloosa, IA. They first came to my attention when I moved to Iowa because they have a Human Services program. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Athabasca University in 2018 but at the time I moved I wasn’t finished yet and wanted to make sure I had evaluated my options.

Unfortunately my experience with the William Penn faculty has been poor to date, and I would not recommend the university or their Human Services program.

The university makes the claim that:

the Human Services program presents our majors with the interdisciplinary perspective required of those desiring to provide human and social services to individuals and communities. The program curriculum fosters the development of knowledge, skills, and experiences required of professionals who work in public and private human services agencies and organizations.

I’m not convinced.

The core courses look pretty standard:

  • PSYC 108 Life-Span Psychology
  • PSYC 221 Introduction to Counseling
  • PSYC 331 Human Services in Contemporary America
  • PSYC 348 Crisis Intervention
  • SOCI 123 Sociology of Contemporary Issues
  • SOCI 217 Ethnic and Race Relations or
  • SOCI 219 Sex and Gender in Society
  • SOCI 220 Social Organization
  • SOCI 335 Social Research Methods
  • KINS 231 Substance Abuse
  • KINS 208 Leadership in Sport, Exercise, and Recreation or
  • KINS 210 Camp Management and Outdoor Education or
  • KINS 336 Organization and Administration of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER)

And some elective options:

  • KINS 334 Tests & Measurements in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER)
  • PSYC 240 Health Psychology
  • PSYC 305 Theories and Systems of Counseling
  • PSYC 322 Multicultural Counseling Approaches
  • PSYC 326 Abnormal Psychology
  • SOCI 211 Introduction to Criminology
  • SOCI 218 Juvenile Delinquency
  • SOCI 311 Marriage and Family

Additionally there is a practicum. A few things stick out to me: the department of Kinesiology offering the course in Substance Abuse seems a little odd. And requiring a course in “Leadership in Sport, Exercise, and Recreation” or similar just smacks of not having a diverse enough course offering to actually make a course relevant to Human Services.

PSYC348 Crisis Intervention

If you were hoping to find the syllabus for the PSYC348 Crisis Intervention course at William Penn University (WPU) you’ll be disappointed. I reached out to Sarah Tarbell at William Penn University, who told me she hadn’t taught the course in 3 years. I also reached out to Professor Michael O. Johnston, one of the two faculty members listed on the WPU Human Services website. No response. I sent a second follow up. No response.

Michael Collins, the “Social and Behavioral Sciences Division Chair” didn’t respond to repeated phone calls or emails, even though I spoke to him and he told me he would provide me with a copy of the syllabus, about summing up my experience with WPU. He and Professor Johnston are Sociologists, so I strongly question whether they are able to teach human services courses effectively.

Interestingly, the WPU website doesn’t even list faculty for the PSYC 348 Crisis Intervention course, making me wonder if they no longer teach it. You can’t become an effective human services practitioner if you don’t have basic training in crisis intervention.

A good crisis intervention course will include:

  • How to identify individuals in crisis
  • Models or theories of crisis intervention
  • Intervention techniques for different situations
  • Practical demonstrations or roleplays of crisis intervention
  • Basic suicide assessment and intervention

But I can’t be certain the WPU course includes these elements. You can read my evaluation of the human services curriculum at other schools.

Conclusion

While William Penn appears to have a weak Human Services program, you might find programs offered by other colleges like the University of Iowa a better fit. The tuition at WPU is also ridiculously high, at $25,000 per year. You could get an entire degree for that from a better school!

I would skip WPU and complete an Associates in Social Work at a community college like Indian Hills before completing an online Bachelor’s degree instead.

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