Alice Warren, the Vice Provost of Continuing Education and UPCEA’s 2016-2017 President, agreed to share her thoughts and predictions with us around what’s happening in continuing education. Below, you can see the questions we posed and her answers.
1) What’s the trend in higher education that you have your eye on right now?
I am watching the development of and acceptance of alternative credentials for working adults. I am curious as to how other institutions package alternative credentials into what topical areas. We have a very strong community college system in North Carolina. In my opinion, the community colleges believe they offer the most applicable alternative credentials or badges for working adults. I envision opportunities for collaboration with the community colleges in our state as they could bundle the entry to mid-level content and NC State could bundle the advanced content into a very beneficial, co-owned credential.
2) What do you see as the biggest threat that continuing education and graduate departments face?
In my opinion, the marketplace is loaded with all sorts of continuing education, professional development and online offerings from just about every source of academic or assumed academic entities and/or for-profit entities you can imagine. In other words, our competition in the continuing and online education market is very strong. In order to survive from the increasing levels of competition, we have to plan, to develop, to promote and to market our programs in the most creative ways. The use of all forms of social and print media are required to meet all of the markets and the age ranges we should be serving. Our programs should highlight the knowledge and expertise of our institution’s faculty with reasonable pricing, high numbers of registrations, and solid statements of impact.
3) Where would you like to see more departments invest dollars for long term success?
At NC State, I believe more departments should collaborate and utilize the program development and “events management” services of the Office of Professional Development within our division. We have a proven track record of engaging programmatic and content development, effective business practices, well trained staff, and high quality customer service to be able to generate additional revenue from program offerings that would benefit the academic departments. Instead of trying to develop and manage these programs on their own, with help from students or the department secretarial staff, these campus departments should be partnering with OPD to offer and manage their continuing and professional education programs. By helping departments generate additional revenue, their faculty could have newer equipment and technology to assist in their teaching and research as well as additional travel dollars for faculty and designated students to travel to professional meetings. This type of partnership seems like a “no-brainer” to me. Why wouldn’t you want to try this tactic?
4) What advice would you give someone who is new to continuing education?
Embrace this career path and be proud to represent your institution. Work hard, yet smart, be respectful and never compromise your core values. Communicate, communicate and communicate. Never assume that anyone has all of the details. Engage with colleagues by attending campus events, networking at every event and opportunity you are given, serve on campus committees, participate in professional development for your personal growth, seek opportunities to advance your knowledge base and develop your leadership skills. Join UPCEA, commit to at least one association network, and learn from your regional CE colleagues. Live each day to the fullest and be grateful to have another morning to start all over again!