Published on 2012/05/22

From Fringe To Core: Agile Measures To Bridge The Gap

As higher education institutions strive to be more financially accountable, continuing education departments are being turned to for best practice advice and programming strategy. Photo by Scott Swigart.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when Peter Drucker, renowned management theorist and prolific writer, provocatively stated, “thirty years from now the big university campus will be a relic. Universities won’t survive in their present form.” In large part, this evolution emanates from the growing mandate to address the continuing education of an aging and diverse populace. A plethora of research exists that bears witness to this challenge before institutions of higher education and more specifically continuing education as a contributing stakeholder.

A new paradigm for higher education is coming into focus. It is elusive and has very little resemblance to the current brick-and-mortar hierarchies. It comes with a very distinct perspective and agenda that differs from the traditional tenets of higher education. In a time of dwindling budgets, global market expansion, and burgeoning minority population growth, continuing education providers stand to benefit from this emerging model in that we are well versed and experienced in drawing students from constantly shifting markets. We have operated on the fringes not necessarily by choice, but this has allowed us to innovate and integrate technological advances within regional and global markets. We have become the laboratory for ubiquitous learning that is no longer limited by time or distance. We are experts at finding the gaps in learning and filling them with timely, relevant, and results-oriented solutions that change lives.

At UT-Austin, Continuing and Innovative Education is setting the pace as a game changing architect of agile and innovative business models to serve new education markets both domestic and global.  We are defining the new frontiers in what were once inaccessible markets. We benefit from our know-how in identifying trends and benchmarking for the successful execution of knowledge products and services.

Expanding our exploration of innovative models for research will allow us to be more responsive in an increasingly competitive borderless market and will provide the template for identifying best practices through comparative scanning. It will also lead to a transformative toolkit of integrative knowledge that can be disseminated to our campus colleagues for review, comparison, and inclusion in their best practices. Further, ongoing research will help us gauge the pulse of society, learn from our failures and communicate our takeaways via a network of knowledge partners to champion their cause as educators in a changing world.

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Readers Comments

WA Anderson 2012/05/22 at 2:20 pm

“We are defining the new frontiers in what were once inaccessible markets. We benefit from our know-how in identifying trends and benchmarking for the successful execution of knowledge products and services.”

I am amazed, impressed and excited that the CE dept at UT Austin has such a clear leadership mandate. Hopefully you are setting the tone for the rest of the industry!

Do you know of many other institutions where the CE dept has as strong a mandate for the rest of the institution as you do at Texas?

    Linda Glessner 2012/06/04 at 7:32 pm

    Dear W.A.,
    In response to your posting, I believe that Purdue is taking a strong stand with their CE operation as is Indiana. I am sure there are more but those 2 institutions do come to mind. Thanks for commenting.
    Dr. G.

    Linda Glessner 2012/06/04 at 7:36 pm


    I also want to mention Northeastern as a leader in rethinking the role of CE.

John O'Neill 2012/05/22 at 4:56 pm

You mention “burgeoning minority population growth” in your article. Is there anything UT-Austin is doing to specifically address the needs of these audiences and to market to them?

    Linda Glessner 2012/06/04 at 7:48 pm

    We have a number of programs in the CIE portfolio at UT-Austin that address minority populations in Texas and beyond – primarily the UT High School Diploma program which focuses on students (many of which are older adult students returning to complete high school diploma requirements); UT-University Charter School which focuses on handicapped youth across the state; Migrant and LUCHA programs which focus on Spanish speaking students attending public high schools in Texas). All four of these programs prepare large numbers of high school students for college and life. UT-Austin also has a number of community engagement outreach efforts handled through statewide education centers that serve as a foundation for college preparation. Recent activities on our campus also include a renewed interest by UT’s leadership on freshman orientation and academic planning for student success during their academic career at UT-Austin.

    Thank you for the posting!


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