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HPU program develops management skills

by Kim Robson, staff writer

The normal sequence of the first day of class is usually a quick introduction of the professor, your fellow students, and the syllabus. We all know the routine of introducing ourselves by our names, grade, place of origin, and lastly our major. We all hear of the popular majors such as business, nursing, computer science, pre-med, psychology, and communications, but what about human services? Is it really a major? If it is, what is it?
Dr. Mary Sheridan

The Human Services major at HPU prepares students to work as managers and support personnel in a variety of nonprofit organizations. By confronting many social issues in a variety of classes, students develop skills in critical thinking, strong values for ethics, social justice, interpersonal communication, and moral and ethical reasoning. The human service major provides students with the opportunity to earn a degree that can be applied immediately to employment or to a graduate program. The major itself is a combination of several fields of study such as psychology, sociology, and business that will help to ready the student for the work place and give students a deeper understanding of how nonprofit organizations function.

Now that we understand a bit more about the human services major, what exactly is a nonprofit? According to the human services brochure, the business world is divided into two types of organizations: those with the primary goal of making money by selling products and services, and those with the primary goal of doing good for society. This second group is called “nonprofit” or not-for-profit (NGOs) internationally.

There are many different kinds of nonprofits, each with its own purpose. A nonprofit may be an international relief organization or a neighborhood church. Nonprofits protect the environment and animals, bring meals to senior citizens and disaster victims, promote civil rights and provide money for medical research, and build housing for the poor and organize recreation for children and teens. A nonprofit may have thousands of employees and a budget of millions of dollars, or be run by volunteers with few resources.

Nonprofit managers create and lead organizations that help others. Typical jobs include: executive director (the nonprofit equivalent of the CEO), administrative assistant, coordinator of volunteers or members, office managers, program developer/coordinator/leader, trainer/evaluator, and grant writer/fund raiser. Employers in the human services often include: correctional facilities, counseling agencies, colleges/universities, employee assistance programs, government agencies, health centers, hospitals, mental health organizations, senior citizen centers, schools, social service agencies, and youth programs. The American Humanics addressed that the aging population will increase government contracts for services with the nonprofit sector making nonprofit management a growth field. There is currently a shortage of people who are trained to work in these vital jobs. It is estimated that there are 50,000 jobs available nationwide for people with these skills.

The human services curriculum has two areas of concentration: nonprofit management and substance abuse counselors. For the nonprofit concentration, students engage in practicum work in a community agency and may choose from a wide variety of electives such as: advertising, justice management, business courses, law, anthropology, psychology, and sociology. For the substance abuse concentration, substance abuse counselors learn management, refine counseling skills, and take a capstone course in substance abuse theories.

So now that we have a basic understanding for this least recognizable major, maybe we might know of someone, or even ourselves who may be drawn to addressing social issues in a variety of social and human services setting through direct services, advocacy, program development, or nonprofit and human services management. If you are interested in the program please speak with your advisor or program chair, Dr. Mary S. Sheridan.



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