Continuing Ed: What's in a name?

Continuing Ed: What's in a name?

Some examples of terminology and insight into the programs

How an institution labels its continuing education division often reflects its mission or goals. Below are some examples of terminology used in the field—and insight into why each institution made that choice.

Center for Lifelong Learning

Santa Barbara Community College (Calif.)

Officials recently broke down the CE division and integrated many previously free, noncredit offerings into a new Center for Lifelong Learning, which now generates revenue. It serves a wide array of community members, especially nontraditional-aged students seeking personal enrichment.

Adult Education—and Continuing Education

City Colleges of Chicago

While “adult education” falls under CE in general at many schools, for the seven City Colleges of Chicago, it’s an entirely separate unit. The Adult Education component offers free ESL, GED and citizenship classes, as well as a path toward becoming a full-time student. Continuing Education, in contrast, focuses on certifications, workforce development and personal enrichment.

University Outreach

The University of Oklahoma

Outreach, in general, is a popular term in the field. “We went to that simply because it implies that the university’s resources are reaching out into the community,” says James Pappas, OU’s VP for University Outreach. At OU, Outreach comprises the school’s College of Continuing Education—with its typical CE offerings of credit and noncredit courses, training and certification programs—and its College of Liberal Studies, which offers undergraduate and graduate liberal arts degrees to nontraditional students.

Division of Continuing Studies

Rutgers University

Rutgers simplified the name of its Division of Continuous Education and Outreach to the Division of Continuing Studies roughly four years ago to “reflect a broader mission and the different areas we’re engaged in, such as online learning,” says Richard Novak, VP for Continuing Studies and Distance Education.

Workforce Development Services

Virginia Community College System

Workforce Development presents a major opportunity for many institutions to drive revenue and is a particular boon for community colleges. The Virginia Community College System’s Workforce Development Services, which operates 23 individual units on 40 campuses, sees itself as a “partner to corporations in the area,” providing a “pipeline of workers in highly specialized fields” such as maritime transportation, says Craig Herndon, vice chancellor for workforce development. VCCS surpassed its goal of partnering with 10,000 businesses by 2015 two years ago, in academic year 2011-12. Last year, it reached 11,025 businesses.

Continuing Education, Training and Innovation

Bismarck State College (N.D.)

While Bismarck State College follows a traditional, centralized structure for much of its CE, the innovation portion of the name reflects how the division is an incubator for decentralized initiatives such as the National Center for Energy Excellence, which serves a national market with online and onsite training and degree programs. BSC is now looking to launch a similar initiative with the Communications Workers of America. The school is capitalizing on North Dakota’s 2 percent unemployment rate and the fact that there is a strong need for trained workers.

Part-Time Studies

Fairfield University (Conn.)

For about 20 years, continuing education at Fairfield University fell largely under what it called “University College,” which closed as a distinct academic unit in 2012. Part-time offerings have now been turned over to the deans of the school’s colleges, and the umbrella term “Part-Time Studies” is used.

Extended Education

Texas Christian University

This division has been around for quite a while in higher ed, though its popularity has been waning. Texas Christian University is currently in the process of reconsidering the name, but David Grebel, director of Extended Education, says the struggle is that “there are as many opinions as possible names.”


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