Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, May 21, 2010

Task force recommends increased visibility for continuing education

A task force charged with exploring an expanded array of nontraditional educational programs is recommending changes that could lead to significant increases in revenue from the programs over the next five years.

Task force chair Derek Collins, associate dean for humanities in LSA, outlined his group’s recommendations at Thursday's Board of Regents meeting.

Task force on non-traditional
education programs

• Gerald Abrams, director of Mini-Med Program, Medical School
• Peggy Burns, assistant dean for advancement, LSA
• Diana Economy, MBA student in the class of 2010, Stephen M. Ross School of Business
• Ken Fischer, president, University Musical Society
• Christie Nordhielm, clinical associate professor of marketing, Ross School
• Joe Parker, senior associate athletic director for development, Athletics
• Theresa Reid, executive director, Arts on Earth
• Stephanie Riegle, assistant vice provost, Office of the Provost
• Bryan Rogers, dean, School of Art and Design
• Jerry Sigler, senior vice president, Alumni Association
• Karen Sikkenga, associate director, Matthaei Botanical Garden and Nichols Arboretum
• Mary Simoni, associate dean, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Collins said the task force is recommending ways to increase the visibility of the many existing, nontraditional educational programs offered on all three campuses without creating a new layer of bureaucracy.

That approach, he explained, is based on the wide array of more than 500 specific suggestions gleaned during discussions with 350 individuals from all aspects of the university community.

“We believe there is a need to build a social network around the extensive current offerings,” Collins said.

So, instead of recommending an office of continuing education, for example, the panel is recommending a centralized Web site to make it easier to share and find information on all programs.

“What we decided to recommend were ways to make that information more widely available; to make the process of promoting continuing education programs more transparent,” Collins said.

Once that is accomplished it will be easier for the university community to expand those offerings, Collins added.

He said the task force used a broad definition of continuing education to include programs, offered both for academic credit and not for credit, that can be described as post-baccalaureate, professional development, personal enrichment and pre-college camps.

Collins said task force members are confident that with a renewed focus on promoting continuing education on the U-M campuses, current net revenues of $2.75 million-$5 million a year could be doubled in the coming five years with even more programs.

The task force is one of five such panels established last fall to explore areas where the university can either further enhance revenue or reduce costs. Still to come this summer are updates from the other four task forces. Those panels are focused on:

• Expanding spring and summer instruction.
• Marketing U-M to nonresident undergraduate applicants.
• Creative staffing and shared services.
• Best practices for centers and institutes.