Published on 2013/04/01

The Importance of Continuing Education Leadership in Public Higher Education

The Importance of Continuing Education Leadership in Public Higher Education
Continuing education activities are moving from the periphery of higher education institutions to the core, but there is a lack of qualified continuing education professionals ready to step into these increasingly important leadership roles.

Public higher education institutions, particularly in California, face long-term budget challenges. More than ever, institutional leaders are looking to their continuing education colleges and divisions to create programs and activities that increase access, help students accelerate their time to degree and enhance revenue streams through innovative and creative strategies. Institutional leaders are increasingly recognizing the versatility of continuing education leaders to support and advance institutional goals in a variety of new and parallel roles. Continuing education leaders are assuming responsibility for important areas, such as international programs and advancement, and increasingly critical duties within academic affairs offices. The skills essential to successful continuing education administration are equally desirable in other areas of the university.

While continuing education leaders explore new roles within the institution, their units face a challenge in filling critical positions. Given the integration of continuing education leadership within the larger university structure, how do we engage, encourage and prepare our emerging leaders for new and expanding opportunities?

One thing we can do is more aggressively promote continuing education as an exciting and fulfilling career choice, rather than a stop on the way to another opportunity. Continuing education units are populated with talented, accomplished and enthusiastic leaders who serve as examples to those who aspire to leadership positions. I know that our professional associations and institutions value staff professional development, but I also hear from colleagues that filling key staff positions has become increasingly difficult. This has become an area of concern, both locally and globally, and may affect the health, vitality and sustainability of both continuing and extended education. This issue deserves continued and focused attention so the creativity, innovation and passion that current continuing and extended education leadership possesses can be an inspiration to future leaders.

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Readers Comments

Ewan Philipps 2013/04/01 at 11:45 am

It’s a positive development that higher education institutions are finally starting to recognize the critical role continuing education units play within the overall institution. This article discusses CE leaders apparently leaving their units to pursue positions in other parts of an institution, and how this has created a gap in some CE units.

At the risk of sounding like I want CE staff to have twice their current workloads, I wonder if there is a way to keep them working in continuing education while giving them opportunities to share their expertise with the rest of the institution. Does it have to be a tug of war within the same institution for top talent?

Jason Bennett 2013/04/01 at 3:38 pm

Continuing education leaders tend to be innovative, business-minded risk takers, and traditional institutions could certainly use all of those skills. It’s good to see that continuing education finally seems to be shedding its “fringe” label within the institution. Perhaps this will pave the way for greater integration of continuing education and other units on campus.

Victoria Blackwood 2013/04/01 at 5:15 pm

At our small, remote and highly focused public college we partner extensively with professionals in course related fields to secure instructors and SMEs’ for LL courses. Faculty and adjuncts were our core LL instructors for years but in the last decade have found themselves overwhelmed with their academic workloads, professional scholarship requirements or are just not interested.

The truth is most of the professionals we work with are far more up to date in their fields than faculty who spend their time in classrooms most of the year.

Professional partners see LL as a business to which they can bring current case studies reinforcing desired course competencies. With a little instructional design support to bundled and deliver their content in blended course formats available anytime anywhere, we are more apt to meet the needs of mature CE students and corporate training division customers. When you add innovative, affordable, adaptive learning LMS platforms like as a partner the learning result is just as personalized or better than what you find in an average traditional academic setting.

Chuck Schwartz 2013/04/02 at 1:03 pm

I’m just wondering if there are some strategies that anyone has used to retain continuing education leaders and attract new ones.

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