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College of Continuing Education News

April 2012 Archives

From the Dean

College of Continuing Education Dean Mary Nichols.jpg


This year, the printed CCE Current will not be up to the task at hand. Spring 2012 CCE Current cover.jpg

As with previous years, heartfelt accounts of the transformative power of continuing education will jump from the pages. Innovative staff and leading-edge faculty will recount the exciting environment that helped them create distinctive offerings for adult learners. Dedicated advisers will illuminate how they partner with individuals to map where they've been, where they want to go, and the interdisciplinary University education that will take them there.

Only, this year, we're not taking a snapshot of the College's community "today." We're celebrating a century of opening doors for Minnesotans and looking ahead at what is to come.

For 100 years, the College has responded in creative ways to lifelong learners', and society's, changing needs. Through all that change, some constants remained. Offerings empowered those making a transition to go where they dreamed of going, kept them fresh once they were in their careers, and helped them broaden their worldview and see things with fresh new perspectives.

The spring 2012 issue - focusing on the "then and now" of interdisciplinary education, LearningLife, and technology-enhanced education - and the next - spotlighting a new slate of program areas - can only hold a mere fraction of our history.

You can help fill in the gaps. I encourage you to visit www.cce.umn.edu/centennial and share your memories. We would love to hear from you.

To all the students, faculty, and staff from yesterday and today, "thank you" for all you've done to make this a century of intellectual exploration, of new possibilities, of excellence. Every day, I grow more proud to be a part of it.


Dr. Mary L. Nichols
Dean, College of Continuing Education
University of Minnesota

Individualized. Interdisciplinary.jpg

The University of Minnesota has a rich tradition of individualized, interdisciplinary study--a tradition in which the College of Continuing Education has some of its deepest roots.

Even more than 80 years ago, there was a recognized need for a college education that went beyond the confines of a set major or single discipline. It was the belief of U President Lotus Coffman (for whom Coffman Union is named) that the responsibility of the University was to see that "the road to intellectual opportunity should never be closed to any traveler."

To that end, with the support of the deans and faculty, Coffman created "the Committee of Seven"--a group designed to study the educational programming at the U in order to "insure a more liberalized and coherent educational procedure than is possible with the emphasis now placed upon the various specialties."

The Committee's first recommendation was that the president be "authorized to create a new service for the unusual and superior student." This program would allow the student "to choose the courses where he found them, without reference to classic patterns." The plan was approved by the Board of Regents, and in 1930, the University College was born (although it did not officially adopt the name until several years later).

The University College served as a cross-collegiate committee which would examine a student's application for special consideration and either deny or approve his or her request to "map out programs of an individual character, disregarding college or departmental lines."

In its first year, 150 students applied for special consideration, yet only 20 were accepted. "The rest," says University historian James Gray, "[as] mere fugitives from discipline, were sent back to their own colleges to work out their difficulties."

A Second Era of Experimentation
The years following the "boom" of experimental education during Lotus Coffman's tenure were good ones--following World War II, individualized education became a hallmark of the U of M, and, enrollment in the University College increased substantially.

In the late 1960s, that same spirit of experimental higher education that had swept Minnesota--and the nation--some four decades prior returned with vigor, and new individualized programs sprung up (and collapsed) rapidly.

In 1969, University College became the Inter-College Program (ICP)--as it is called to this day. The name "University College" was then applied to a group of programs housing experiments in undergraduate education. One of the first of those was the Experimental College (EC), which began in 1970. EC offered both a B.A. and a B.S. and stressed equality, freedom of choice, group decision making, non-competitiveness, and personal communication skills. A relatively short-lived "experiment," the program was phased out in 1978.

In 1970, the U of M's University College became one of 17 institutions across the country receiving funding to begin a University Without Walls program (UWW). The program was piloted in 1971, with degree-granting rights conferred in 1972. The Board of Regents granted it permanent status in 1979.

The general principle behind UWW was to create "utopian institutions" that allowed for flexibility in both learning options and educational assessment. Although every UWW program was different, all were organized around the same basic tenets, including: the
abandonment of credits as the sole measure of learning; the use of life and work and other outside-the-classroom experiences as part of the degree; a flexible time frame for degree and/or course completion; the use of individuals in the community as adjunct faculty; and enrollment by non-traditional-aged students.

A largely self-directed program, UWW allowed students, primarily adult learners returning to school to finish their education, to design their own degree program using course work and individualized learning projects, leading to the bachelor of arts degree. In 1986, the name of the program was changed from UWW to University College's
Program for Individualized Learning (PIL) to better reflect the mission of the program. PIL continued until 2010, when the process of phasing it out began. It will graduate its final students in 2014.

Following UWW's receiving permanent status and until 1994, there were relatively
few major changes to the slate of individualized degree options. In 1994, Continuing Education and Extension (CEE; CCE's previous name) founded the first individualized, interdisciplinary master's degree program at the U: the Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program.

Participants included working professionals in specialized fields, such as teachers, engineers, health professionals, science and technical professionals, who wanted to broaden their picture of society; students interested in an academic perspective that cut across traditional disciplines or combined areas of inquiry (e.g. business and philosophy, humanities and health care, or politics and artistic expression); and many other (primarily) adult students interested in a custom-designed graduate degree that did not require them to quit their day jobs.

In 1996, University College merged with Continuing Education and Extension; in 1998, the name was changed to College of Continuing Education. In 2005, the College of Continuing Education added one more individualized degree program to its roster: the Multidisciplinary Studies degree (MdS). Unlike the ICP, which enrolls both traditional and non-traditional-aged students, the MdS is an individualized degree program geared for individuals with a gap of two or more years in their educational history-- primarily working adults for whom the flexibility of evening and distance courses was paramount.

Students select two or three areas of concentration and earn either a B.A. or B.S. using course work drawn from across the University, with an emphasis on evening and online options. The areas of emphasis are: Applied, Technical, and Professional; Arts and Humanities; Communications; History and Social Sciences; and Science and Health

Looking Forward
Today, the College of Continuing Education remains the home of the University's three inter-collegiate, interdisciplinary, individualized degrees--the Inter-College Program, Multidisciplinary Studies, and the Master of Liberal Studies Program.

The ICP was formed in 1930 with the goal of meeting the needs of the student who "because of aptitude, previous training, or experiences, differs from the typical." It is a goal that the College continues to strive for with all of its individualized programming, more than 80 years later.

"The University recognized back in 1930 that not all degree plans met all students' needs," says the College's senior academic adviser, Josh Borowicz. "There was a case for individualized degrees, for crafted degrees.

"The ICP continues to open doors for students to explore their interests that a single area major would perhaps not provide for. They can take courses from the Carlson School of Management, and combine them with work in the College of Design. They can investigate Public Health while delving into Mass Communication and Applied Business.

"And through the MdS program, adults are able to finish what they started, earn a
credential, set an example for their children, any and sometimes all of the above. It allows them to combine their prior academic and educational history, their life experiences, and their interests and goals to form or refocus a new course of study that reflects where they have been, and where they want to be."

MLS program director Jo Ellen Lundblad agrees that meeting the need for
interdisciplinary, individualized education is critical to the College's mission. "We received approval for the program in June of 1994. The first ads went up in July. For our first info session in August, we had more than 100 people attend. It was nuts--we knew from all of the research we had done that it would be popular, but...this was something else.

"We've seen such a huge, diverse range of students through this program," she
continues. "But for all of them there has been this need to pursue a topic, line of inquiry that they were passionate about. The MLS program opens the door to the U, it provides intimate access to world-class, meaningful graduate education for adults.

"Our students are furthering their careers, building new ones, or exploring the
connections between ideas out of intellectual curiosity. They are becoming experts in their own fields of study. Really, the goal of the MLS, of individualized, inter-disciplinary study, is to open the doors for opportunity. To allow students to gain confidence, to discover or rediscover a part of themselves. We want them to walk away from here knowing they have linked what may be seen as disparate ideas and theories, and created new ones; that they have made a substantial contribution to a body of knowledge. We help them open that door."


Published sources consulted include The University of Minnesota: 1851-1951 by James Gray. University of Minnesota Press, 1951. Additional information courtesy of "University of Minnesota's Individualized Degree Programs" (unpublished mss.), by Kent Warren.

Student Profiles

Jennie Germain
Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) Graduate
Focus: Arts Administration

Master of Liberal Studies Graduate Jennie Germain.jpg

Jennie Germain knew she wanted to focus her graduate work on arts administration, but at the same time, she wanted to find a program that allowed her to combine various subject areas. "The field I work in is interdisciplinary--it's a mix of arts, business management, and public policy. A graduate degree in any one of these fields alone would not have made me as well rounded as I need to be."

Through the MLS, Germain was able to focus her studies on an area of emphasis that closely matched her career goals. "I was able to take courses in nonprofit management through the Humphrey Institute, as well as grant writing and arts management courses. [Plus] I was able to intern at numerous nonprofit arts organizations throughout the Twin Cities."

The program opened many doors for Germain, both professionally and personally. "One of the first papers I wrote was on the economic impact of the arts on small communities. Now six years later, I am working as the executive director for the Austin Area Commission for the Arts, and have developed a grassroots movement in Austin that is dedicated to promoting economic and community development through the arts.

"An interdisciplinary degree like the MLS allows students to become more well rounded than they otherwise would in a traditional program, providing them with a wider range of connections and opportunities for their future. My experience in the program provided me invaluable connections within my field...and my [education] definitely helped me achieve an executive-level position sooner than I would have with experience alone."

Matt Musel
Inter-College Program (ICP) Graduate
Focus: Organization and Human Development, Human Resource Development

Inter College Program Graduate Matt Musel. Photo by Tim Rummelhoff.jpg

Despite being intensely involved in extracurricular activities and student government, including serving as student body president, Matt Musel found himself adrift without a major. "I had interests that were divergent--political science, human resources, organizational development. And there really wasn't a single major that encompassed all my interests, or that would give me the flexibility to major in one and still have time to study the others."

He found a home in the Inter-College Program, where he was able to design a major in Organization and Human Development, with a certificate in Human Resource Development. "The cross-collegiate nature of CCE meant I could take courses from CEHD (College of Education and Human Development) and earn a certificate in HR Development, and combine that with management courses from Carlson School of
Management and the Humphrey Institute. Plus, I could continue with the poli sci courses that I enjoyed."

Since his graduation, Musel has been able to parlay his interests into a career path--he worked in the governor's office, founded two nonprofits, and is currently the chief development officer for U of M Extension. He is not, however, the only one in his family who took a nontraditional path to a degree.

His grandmother, Elnor Peterson Pahl, had enrolled at the U at the age of 16, but then left school after three years, married, and started a family. Some 15 years later, she found herself divorced and a single mother, working to rebuild her life. She decided to return to finish her education, and began taking classes in her north Minneapolis community through the CCE Neighborhood Program. Eventually, she earned a bachelor's degree in humanities, and later a master's in library science, on her way to her lifelong dream of becoming a librarian.

She was a lifelong learner, and her spirit and drive inspired Musel to found a CCE scholarship fund in her name, the Elnor Peterson Pahl Scholarship for students working toward their bachelor's degree. "CCE offered me a way to pursue my interests and a degree. It gave my grandmother an opportunity to get back into the U. I see how CCE and continuing education and the University made a difference in my family's lives. You really need a part of this huge institution that is flexible and open for people who need something different to achieve their dreams.

"Opportunities need to be given; doors opened. And sometimes you are in the position to receive those opportunities, and other times you are in the position to give them away to others. I'm glad I am in the position in my life to help other struggling students, and to honor my grandmother's memory at the same time."

Kathleen Spehar
Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) Graduate
Focus: Arts Administration and Women in Leadership

Master of Liberal Studies Graduate Kathleen Spehar. Photo by Tim Rummelhoff.jpg

"My background was in music and music education," says Master of Liberal Studies graduate Kathleen Spehar. "And I was working as a K-12 teacher when I decided to pursue my master's degree."

The question though, was, "in what area?" Spehar had long been interested in interdisciplinary approaches to teaching, and wanted to find a way to carry that over to her own education. "When you begin incorporating an interdisciplinary approach into teaching, when you find ways to integrate arts and academic subjects, you'll see students' lives--and test scores--improve. It enhances the way they see the world around them, how they tackle problems," she says.

"So, when I was considering graduate school, I knew I wanted to find a program
that offered me flexibility, creativity, and a way to draw from numerous disciplines
and departments. None of the more traditional degree paths seemed open enough, vibrant enough to me. I was looking for something where I could combine from here and there, take seemingly disparate, but actually interconnected ideas, and make a whole.
I found that approach, as well as the mentorship that I needed to help me grow as a leader, in the MLS."

Spehar combined the study of women in leadership roles with arts administration as her focus, basing her thesis on three women who are largely credited with the regional theatre movement in the 1940s-1960s. She investigated how those women were instrumental in decentralizing Broadway and bringing art to the country as a whole. She also looked at how the theatre would culturally and financially function within the community, and its role in society.

Spehar also found that her studies changed the path of her career. While in the program, she worked as a T.A. and then went on to serve as an adjunct professor and assistant managing director for the University of Minnesota's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Following her role at the U, she served as the managing director at St. Paul's History Theatre, and had an opportunity to work as a visiting assistant professor in Arts Management at Florida State University. In 2011, she landed her current position as director of the O'Shaughnessy Theatre at St. Catherine University.

It is a role that plays to her academic pursuits, as well as her personal interests. "I am working in the arts and arts administration, and I am doing it at a place like St. Kate's where there are so many female potential leaders. I hope I am able to serve as a good role model for them, as a mentor. I want to use my position to be able to help them dream their big ideas."

She concludes, "The College of Continuing Education and the MLS program challenged me to look at the world and my place in it differently. It fed my imagination and opened the door to experiences I might not have otherwise considered."

New Worlds.jpg

While the College's history reaches back to 1913, one of its current program areas - LearningLife - goes back "only" a modest five decades. Oh, but what a perfect decade it was for the College to start a movement. And, a movement it was, a movement to give lifelong learners the chance to see the world from new perspectives, follow their passions, or create for themselves a new beginning. Over the years, a changing slate of offerings emerged, each specifically designed to meet the needs of the time.

Continuing Education for Women and the Compleat Scholar Program

In 1960, the women's rights movement was just beginning. It would be three years before Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique made the case that women's talents were needed in the workforce. But, it was at this early stage that the University of Minnesota was already working toward giving women who had been away from school awhile access to education and the confidence and opportunities that followed.

The Minnesota Plan for the Continuing Education of Women (CEW)* began with a few liberal arts seminars under the title New Worlds of Knowledge. By its 15-year anniversary, it had grown to a department offering 150 to 200 courses (both for credit and noncredit) and was registering over 3,000 students a year. For some, a richer perspective on life and the excitement of getting to know other "educational junkies" (as one participant called it) were the rewards. For others, degrees and more rewarding jobs followed suit.

U of M Board of Regents current chair Linda Cohen was one of those who found the program beneficial. During the program's 25th anniversary, she wrote that after eight years out of school and three young children..."I discovered a course called New Worlds of Knowledge...It was intellectual stimulation par excellence, with camaraderie of women of all ages - 25 to 65."

Some CEW participants found themselves quickly at the head of the class. "The summer I took a psychology lab," remembered the late Edith Mucke in 1985, "I surprised myself by being very good at the math material. A pale young man who worked as a night clerk at the Sheraton used to call me between 11 o'clock and midnight, worrying if he had the same answers." Mucke later went on to serve as director of CEW from 1974 to 1983.

In 1961, co-founder Virginia Senders, described the difference the program was making to another of the early participants: "Elizabeth Hunter, 43 years old and the mother of six children, had long ago stopped thinking of herself as a chemist. Her honors degree...was now 22 years old, and 18 years of domesticity separated her present life from her last active work in the scientific field. Yet, with her youngest child approaching school age, she was beginning to ask herself, 'What now?' Mrs. Hunter did not yet know the answer to her question, but she did know what her next step would be. She would start by enrolling in our program."

The program, which changed over the years to meet the evolving needs of its audience, was a pioneer. "The first five years of the Minnesota Plan brought hundreds of inquiries from educators and persons interested in education located around the United States, and indeed, the world," explained Vera Schletzer, who became co-director with Elizabeth Cless when Senders took a position on the East Coast. "As pioneer and model, the Minnesota Plan catalyzed a national, if not worldwide, movement in women's higher education."

Eventually, as societal norms changed, it became more widely accepted for women to return to school. So, the program changed again. Its credit courses continued until 1998. Its noncredit courses - specializing in liberal education, especially art and literature, and business and professional courses - merged with those of the U's Informal Courses unit - specializing in natural history and social sciences - to become the Compleat Scholar program.

The legacy and pioneering spirit of CEW and the Compleat Scholar program continue today in LearningLife, a portfolio for intellectually curious adults. With formats ranging from single-evening discussions, to Saturday morning seminars for busy working adults, to full-day and multi-session short courses, LearningLife is constantly evolving to meet the needs of its ever-expanding audience.

Split Rock Arts Program

In 1983, the Split Rock Arts Program began, perched on a hill overlooking Lake Superior. Co-founder Andrea Gilats describes the summer retreat for working and aspiring creative writers and artists as "the right thing at the right time." During the years that followed, Split Rock became a popular destination. Each summer it attracted an energetic group of faculty and participants from throughout the U.S., Canada, and the world. Master artists loved the opportunity to share their passion with attendees interested in their art forms. Participants honed their skills at creative writing, visual art, and design.

The program's weeklong format (on the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and then later Twin Cities campuses) was, according to Gilats, "born in another economic era. It was a time when you could pay tuition, rent apartments, and live a week on campus without breaking the bank."

"Since the program discontinued in 2011, there are few days when I don't invoke and celebrate the spirit of Split Rock: its long history, unique interdisciplinary mission, and richly creative people who, through their participation, were the program's center - its beating heart," said Anastasia Faunce, who succeeded Gilats as the program's director and is now a program director for LearningLife.

Great Conversations and Headliners

Fast forwarding another 20 years, College planners imagined being able to listen in as two leading thinkers on a topic covered its history and debated its future. These experts would be culled not "just" from our own academically impressive backyard, but from around the world.

Shortly after she arrived in 2000, Personal Enrichment Programs director Margy Ligon was tapped to create a high-profile series inviting Minnesotans back to their University to join faculty luminaries and the guest of their choosing. That, she did.

From its first pairing in 2002 between then University president Mark Yudof and his former law student, political pundit Paul Begala, the Great Conversations series featured the firsthand perspectives of global leaders such as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hirsh, Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and human rights activist Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland. The program also attracted the attention of others who sought to replicate its unique ability to engage lifelong learners. Soon "Great Conversations" were happening around the country at such institutions as the University of Chicago.

At a particularly memorable evening in February of 2003, CCE conferred its first honorary degree on Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"It's been the ability to tell Minnesotans about the University's role in such historic events, as the fight against apartheid in South Africa, that made it such a privilege to produce these truly great conversations," explained Ligon.

A companion program, Headliners, soon spun off from Great Conversations. The monthly forum offers engaged citizens the opportunity to delve into the national news with University faculty whose expertise illuminates stories as they appear in the headlines. "By employing advanced communications strategies and social media," said Ligon, "we're able to be immediately responsive to the interests of our audiences. The resulting public discussions are stimulating."

Between Great Conversations and Headliners, over the years approximately 35,000 Minnesotans have participated in timely discussions that have enlightened, challenged, and even inspired community action.

Encore Transitions

In 2006, U of M sociology professor Phyllis Moen invited Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures, to join her onstage for a Great Conversation about the social forces shaping retirement. The event had a profound impact on Andrea Gilats, still director at the time of Split Rock Arts Program. In 2009, Gilats brought Freedman back to the U for a LearningLife Encore Fest. She describes it as a "catalytic" event where she met Bill Spinelli, M.D. Eventually, the two would co-develop Encore Transitions.

Again, the time was right for a new program to emerge. "Two-to-three years ago the oldest boomers started to hit retirement age. The bulge is not there yet," explains Gilats. "Of those ages 65 or older, something like 30 percent of them still say some income still comes from paid work. The new retirement doesn't look like Sun City."

But, what does it look like? Just like Elizabeth Hunter struggled with how to move to the next phase of her life 50 years ago and a College program - Continuing Education for Women (CEW) - bridged the gap, so, too, today a new program, Encore Transitions is helping Minnesotans prepare for a new stage of life.

Encore Transitions is an annual series, offered each fall, of daylong workshops designed to help employees transition to post-career life.

"People have two-to-three decades of healthy living after retirement," explains Gilats. "They wonder: 'What will I do with my time and how will my life continue to matter?' CCE has a role to play in healthy aging. People want to continue to learn, grow, and contribute."

Just as CEW caught the eye of author Betty Friedan then created intense interest in the model from other educators, so, too, is Encore Transitions. In Freedman's new book The Big Shift, he urges that society needs new paradigms since we need all our people power deployed, including retirees. He mentions the College's Encore Transitions as a pioneering program. Meanwhile, Gilats and Dean Mary Nichols have been tapped to share their insight on how to replicate the model elsewhere.

It is because the model is working, as explained by one recent series "alum": "I'm more confident that I can control my own destiny and define my own path."

Knowledge opens new worlds.


* CEW history based on Donald Opitz's Three Generations in the Life of the Minnesota Women's Center - A History 1960-2000 and Continuing Education for Women 1960-1985 - Stories from the Early Years.

This spring, LearningLife offers The Discovery Forum. This summer, explore A Century of Ideas.

Discovery Forum
A series of provocative high-profile Discovery Forum conversations, presented by the Star Tribune, will start downtown and continue at follow-up Saturday morning campus seminars with prominent Twin Cities experts to explore the issues raised.

Inaugural Pair: Discovering the State of the Nation

Tuesday, May 8, 7 p.m., Orchestra Hall: National guests Frank Rich (New York magazine), Tina Brown (Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast), and political satirist P.J. O'Rourke join Star Tribune moderator John Rash to discuss the state of the nation.

Saturday, May 19, 9-11 a.m., Continuing Education and Conference Center, St. Paul campus: Rash takes the stage again to pose the question: Is it possible to move beyond hostile debate and reframe the social agenda? He is joined by Douglas Harmann, professor and associate chair of the Sociology Department at the University of Minnesota; and Adam Platt, executive editor of Mpls.St. Paul Magazine as well as editor of Twin Cities Business. Participation in the May 8 Discovery Forum is not required to take part in, or to enjoy, this seminar.

Visit www.discoveryforummn.com about the leading events and www.cce.umn.edu/discovery-forum/ for more information on the follow-up Saturday discussion.

This Just In.jpg

"Where truth is to be discovered or applied, wherever earnest citizens need organized knowledge and tested skill, there the University is on its own ground. Our ideas of time and space are changing rapidly; traditional prejudices are disappearing. The University sees as its members not only the students who resort to the chief center, but the other thousands on farms, in factories, in offices, in shops, in schoolrooms, and in homes who look to it for guidance and encouragement. It is fascinating to picture the possibilities of this widening sphere of higher education as it makes its way into every corner of the state, frankly creating new needs and resourcefully meeting the consequent demands."

--Former University President George Vincent (1911-1916), who oversaw the establishment of the General Extension Division (now the College of Continuing Education) in 1913

From its very beginnings, the College of Continuing Education has been one of the standard bearers for the University's outreach mission--bringing educational and other learning opportunities to people not just on campus, but in the far corners of the state, the country, and even around the globe.

Whether it was through the first fuzzy airwaves of radio, VHS-recorded courses, floppy disks that were actually floppy, live videoconferences, or the rapidly expanding Internet, the College has long sought the "latest and greatest" technology to enhance the education of thousands of individuals both on campus and off.

On the Air
Today, the College's Radio K (KUOM) is best known as an award-winning student-run radio station airing an eclectic mix of independent music, new and old. Its roots, though, stretch back a century. Initially, programming featured agricultural and weather reports, along with lectures, concerts, and football games. Later, in the 1930s, the station began adding distance education to its repertoire--including the historic "Minnesota School of the Air."

When a polio epidemic closed schools (and even the State Fair!) in 1946, KUOM worked with teachers to design the School of the Air, which would go on to serve as a substitute for the closed educational facilities. The School of the Air continued on after the epidemic, offering supplementary programming for in-school listening by elementary students.

Bill Hendrickson was one of the youngsters who tuned in to the program weekly to learn about everything from grammar and music to foreign languages and fairy tales. "I was a fourth-grader (this would have been in 1958) at Holland Elementary School in northeast Minneapolis when my teacher would gather the class around the large, wooden radio (it seemed enormous), and we all listened to programs on Minnesota School of the Air. I particularly remember the fascination we all had about this 'new' technology and how different it was to get information and entertainment in a format so different from our regular classroom learning experiences. I especially remember liking the German language program called 'Gesundheit'."

For the first half of the 20th century, radio was the predominate form of broadcast entertainment for most households, and the University made good use of its airtime not only to deliver the School of the Air for children, but also to provide educational and cultural programming for individuals of all ages. Modern language courses, symphony concerts, famous speakers, and classroom-based special interest lectures educated and informed thousands of Minnesotans each year.

I Want My (U of) M TV
As television became more and more popular in the 1950s, the U began looking at it as the next wave of distance education delivery.

Longtime KUOM manager Burton Paulu took over the helm of the newly formed Department of Radio and Television, with Sheldon Goldstein in charge of TV programming. Airing on KTCA public television, the "University Hour" would feature noncredit as well as credit courses, the first of which was Professor Asher Christensen's popular political science class, "Your Government."

As the demand for programming increased, the U expanded its own production and broadcast facilities, and by the fall of 1964, was producing and airing 19 courses on closed-circuit television, in addition to the programming still on KTCA.

Three years later, the U was among the nationwide leaders in instructional television, with multiple studios and seven channels on its closed-circuit system. Thirty-five classrooms received a feed, and on average 14,000 students were taught via the closed-circuit system, either through live or video-taped programming. By the close of the 1960s, nearly 80 courses were being produced, reaching close to 40,000 people. Paired with that were the "College of the Air" courses still running on KTCA.

Melissa Avery was one of many adult learners who took advantage of the public television courses. "I needed to take a calculus course to fill the requirements for the physiology minor for my Ph.D. At that time, I was working, had a young child, and while I had been as good at math as anyone...it had been 15 years since I had actually had a math class. I needed something that let me work at my own pace--get back into the swing of it, as well as something that fit my schedule.

"I took the course, recording each week's episode on VHS so I could watch it when I had the free time--or watch it again, if I needed to. Despite my initial hesitation about taking calculus that many years later, I actually did quite well! And it was the perfect course for me at the time. It gave me the time and the freedom I needed to accommodate my schedule."

In the 1970s, several departments were merged together, and it was in the College's new combined technology department that ITV (Interactive TeleVision) got its start. Says Lyn Weiler, who was the video scheduler in CCE at the time and is now manager of the U's Office of Information Technology's video services operations, "the late Tom McRoberts was the leader in developing and promoting a distance ed program built around the new technology of interactive videoconferencing in the '90s. [The
College] played an important role in birthing this technology baby. At the time there were no video rooms, no users, and [cross-campus] programmatic coordination and collaboration were non-existent."

Departments across the U used the College's technology resources to facilitate collaborative courses with coordinate campuses and other institutions. And although ITV is now housed elsewhere, the College's role in developing tech-enhanced learning is clear. Says Weiler, "CCE's leadership fostered the growth of the campus video conferencing environment by pursuing collaboration with IT and campus collegiate units and opening the door to program collaboration between the Twin Cities and coordinate campuses and beyond."

From a Distance
From the College's inception, independent study courses have been crucial in the effort to reach, as Vincent said, "not only the students who resort to the chief center, but the other thousands on farms, in factories, in offices, in shops, in schoolrooms, and in homes."

And, as technology changed, so, too, did the shape of courses offered.Correspondence courses had their beginnings even before the College's official start in 1913, with a smattering of offerings in a variety of areas. By the 1990s, when computing technology allowed for significant modifications in the way independent study courses were designed, there were more than 400 for-credit correspondence and self-guided courses administered by the College.

In a 1994 interview, then-dean Hal Miller said, "We recently have [acquired] some new staff who are particularly adept at instructional design using computers. We're on, if not the bleeding edge, at least the cutting edge of some new course developments in independent study using a combination of correspondence, e-mail, and computer-assisted instruction, and group independent study. We're trying all sorts of things there because we think that with the advent and the oncoming growth of distance education that's connected with the Internet, that's a place of real development."

One of those individuals "on the bleeding edge" was Professor Tom Brothen, who was the instructor for the College's first online course offering--Intro to Psychology. "It started as a disc-based course in the mid-90s. The exercises and quizzes were on disc; I programmed it myself for PC, and then got someone in computer science to do the Mac version. Students would get the discs in the mail, and then send them back with all their information stored on them.

"When we got WebCT (a program for information publishing, file transfer, discussion, and test creation), we moved online in the late 1990s. It's been internet-based since then." Brothen is still the instructor for the extended-term course, which features not only quizzes and tests online, but also class discussion and opportunities for feedback. And while the technology may have changed rapidly in the last 15 years or so since the course's inception, its popularity has not.

"In the last few years, I've seen more and more 'in town' students taking online courses. This format opens the door not only for people who live away from campus, but also for people who may be working full-time, or parents who have kids and need to study on their own time, or even traditional-aged students who want to fit a course into their schedule and couldn't do it otherwise, whether that's because of work or extracurricular activities or other commitments."

When the School of Nursing wanted to develop online courses to help some of their graduate students overcome those same hurdles, they turned to the College to help them get started. (Former video calculus course student) Melissa Avery, who is now the chair of the Child and Family Health Co-operative Unit and a professor in the U's School of Nursing, says, "By partnering with CCE, we [the nursing school] were able to find more ways to reach our students through distance education."

She continues, "I came full circle. I had used a technology-enhanced distance ed course in my own graduate work, and then I was involved with using [a later technology] to help increase access for nurses who wanted to continue their education, but lived out-of-state or in Greater Minnesota and couldn't make it in to campus every day."

Dr. Lydia MacKenzie, instructor for an online marketing course, concurs. Online learning affords flexibility, as "students can complete the tasks anytime, anywhere--they can work around family and work responsibilities. It's wonderful there are alternatives for the students who are encumbered by competing demands on their time but are self-disciplined and motivated to complete tasks without the time requirement and face-to-face pressure of a traditional classroom."

MacKenzie should know. Not only did she work on her own graduate degree online while teaching in Ecuador for a year, she has been teaching the marketing course from a distance for several years as well. When she was asked to teach, she jumped at the chance. "I thought it would be a future trend and wholeheartedly accepted the assignment. It's been a wonderful experience...[and now] I primarily teach from my log cabin on a small lake near Richmond, Minnesota."

Balancing Life and Learning
Today, the College's Online and Distance Learning (ODL) unit helps faculty use evolving technologies to reach students on- and off-campus who want or need to take courses outside of the traditional daytime, classroom-based system.

At the close of the 2011 fiscal year, the College had 6,400 enrollments in its nearly 150 individual online courses, allowing many people the chance to take a class that might otherwise not have been an option for them.

The College is opening even more doors with the Applied Business Certificate and the Multidisciplinary Studies Program (MdS), both of which can be taken entirely online, depending on a student's area of emphasis. The MdS degree allows adult learners to return to school and earn their bachelor's degree in a flexible format.

"I served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and am now working as an IT network administrator," says Tom Julkowski. "I felt that a bachelor's degree would open more doors for me in the future, [so] after I was honorably discharged, I decided to use my G.I. Bill benefits to go to school."

Julkowski, who lives in Virginia [state], knew he needed a unique course of study. "For one, I have worked full-time since high school, starting out as an active-duty Marine and continuing as a government contractor. It [was] impractical for me to attend school during the middle of the working day. [Plus], the University of Minnesota is the only place I truly wanted to earn my undergraduate degree from. Thanks to the MdS program and the online courses that were available, it's a dream come true."

Suzanne Kritzberg, who also graduated from the MdS program, agrees. As both the prima ballerina and artistic assistant for the Minnesota Ballet, her schedule was erratic at best, and chaotic, quite frequently.

Multidisciplinary Studies Student Suzanne Kritzberg.Minnesota Ballet Giselle.jpg

"[In many cases], a degree might seem pretty useless for a dancer...[but] while I was still dancing at the time I decided to go back to school, I knew I couldn't do it forever -- the physical demands of being a ballerina are such that the career cannot last a lifetime, and at age 41, I am definitely ancient in a field where the average age of retirement is 27. I am retiring this year from performing, and I am headed for a major career change (ballerina to lawyer) which definitely requires me to have a degree," Kritzberg says.

"The MdS program accommodated my hectic and inconsistent schedule--without online and distance options I couldn't have finished my education. I was able to complete the work in my own time. I usually did my studying in the mornings before work and on the weekends. I submitted my assignments via mail or the computer, so that when I was on tour for out-of-town performances, I could continue my course work on my laptop. It required a little pre-planning [sometimes], but for the most part there were no problems. [The schedule challenges] were good practice for real life, in many cases anyway."

Opening Doors for 100 Years
President Vincent didn't have closed-circuit TV broadcasts or radio production in mind when he was "fascinated by picturing the possibilities of this widening sphere of higher education as it makes its way into every corner of the state." And he CERTAINLY didn't envision "asynchronous discussions" and e-mail conferences or Twitter feeds and Facebook updates as a way of keeping students connected.

But, whatever the means, for nearly 100 years, the College of Continuing Education has been working toward achieving Vincent's goal of outreach.

Says Robert Stine, associate dean and head of the College's Degree and Credit Programs, "It's fascinating to think about how far we have come with technology in the past 100 years, and exhilarating to imagine what is coming in the next 10 to 20.

"What is cutting-edge now may become commonplace, or perhaps even obsolete, but I look forward to seeing the new technologies that emerge, and discovering
how we as a College can utilize them to better deliver education to students in the classroom, across campus, and on the other side of the world."


Dear Friends,

What motivates a person to support a cause? Sometimes we follow our emotions or intuition, sometimes rational outcomes or habit direct our actions. But, with a little reflection and insight, we can begin to pinpoint what moves us.

For Joan T. Smith, it was hearing Graça Machel, the world-renowned humanitarian, political leader, and wife of Nelson Mandela, speak about the potential for growth in Africa at a 2007 Great Conversations program and the desire to smooth the way for African women to finish their degrees. That year, she established a CCE scholarship for that exact purpose.

As a young woman, Joan, always a front runner, had toured the continent of Africa where she saw for herself the potential and possibilities there. Later, Joan was one of a very small handful of women executives in the banking industry in the Twin Cities. She made her first gift because she knew, firsthand, some of the hurtles young women would face to become leaders anywhere in the world.

Now, to celebrate our 100th year, Joan is making an additional gift - $10,000 - to the CCE Centennial Scholarship Fund so that future students can have a place in the classrooms, online learning communities, or whatever virtual forums the next 100 years hold!

I hope you, too, can find your own unique motivation to support the CCE Centennial Scholarship Fund. Even with Joan's lead gift, it will take $15,000 more to establish a permanent endowment that will last 100 years and more.

What was it about your life of learning that moved you? I invite you to reflect and, in doing so, consider a gift that will open doors to the University for the next 100 years. Thank you, sincerely, for considering this request.

Warm wishes,

Kathleen Davoli, Director of Development
College of Continuing Education

A Century of Ideas

For 100 years, the College has provided Minnesotans with access to experts who helped them to challenge their perspectives, change their lives, or transform their communities. What better way to celebrate than with public forums to look back at those 10 decades, with the help of experts, and examine the defining moments and movements that made our society what it is today.

1910s • July 10
Radio and the Birth of Mass Communications: Trace the colorful history of mass communications, from the earliest experiments in broadcasting to tweets today, with U professor emeritus Donald Browne and MPR's Steve Nelson.

1920s • July 12
The Jazz Age: Jazz's syncopated rhythms spread from New Orleans' saloons and dance halls to popularity around the world. Join well-known jazz artist Butch Thompson as he discusses and demonstrates its distinctive sounds.

1930s • July 17
The Politics of the New Deal: As the effects of the 1929 stock market collapse rippled through the nation, FDR set in motion efforts to save America from the ravages of the Great Depression. Join the U's Hy Berman as he discusses the New Deal and its legacy.

1940s • July 19
The Atomic Age: Join the U's James Kakalios as he uses examples culled from classic comic books and science fiction to explain the physics of the bomb and the nature of radioactivity.

1950s • July 24
The Nuclear Family in the Nuclear Age: Usually characterized by cultural conformity, the 1950s also had a subversive undercurrent that all the newly minted suburbs failed to contain. Join U professor Elaine Tyler May as she recreates post-war family life and traces the legacy of the cold war.

1960s • July 26
Cultural Bodies: During the 1960s, the body became a potent symbol of shifting social and political mores as a "living room war" and breakthroughs in medicine stirred debate. Take a fresh look at the turbulent period with Minnesota Historical Society curator Brian Horrigan and U professor John Wright.

1970s • July 31
Putting Women's Rights on the Political Agenda: Join Arvonne Fraser, co-founder of the U's Center on Women and Public Policy, the Star Tribune's Lori Sturdevant, and U political science professor Kathryn Pearson for a lively conversation of the historic milestones and current status of the women's movement.

1980s • August 2
Entering the Digital Era: The 1980s was the beginning of a revolution in knowledge sharing that also ushered in an age of mass surveillance, piracy of intellectual property, and media saturation. Join American Public Media's John Moe as he discusses the impact of the digital era.

1990s • August 7
The Stem Cell Biorenaissance: While biomedical research raises hopes for new treatments for debilitating and deadly diseases, it also creates controversy. Meet U professor Leo Furcht, M.D., as he explains the most promising developments.

2000s • August 9
The Global Economic Crisis Through the Lens of History: Join U professor Timothy Kehoe, adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, for a timely discussion of the world's critical financial depressions of the past century.

All events are on the St. Paul campus from 9-11 a.m. Cost is $50. For more information:
www.cce.umn.edu/LearningLife/A-Century-of-Ideas or call 612-624-4000.