Fairfield University's School of Continuing Education: responding to the learning needs of the community


This year, the School of Continuing Education celebrates its 20th year of providing learning opportunities for learners of all ages. In the past 20 years, continuing education has changed so dramatically that the course catalogs of today bear little resemblance to catalogs of the late 70's and early 80's.

The degree courses remain, of course, but there are many more offerings today for personal enrichment and professional development. Increasingly, adults are seeking credit and non-credit certificates. "We live in a highly credentialed society," says Dr. Edna Farace Wilson, dean of Fairfield University's School of Continuing Education, "and our changing programs are responses to the demand for new skills and updated knowledge required for ongoing success."

"The certificate programs are popular options for our students." she notes. Two new certificate programs will teach skills and applications in leadership. The Executive Leadership Certificate, for senior decision-makers including CEOs, business owners and other top corporate managers, will meet Tuesdays, 8 to 10 a.m. Students may take the program as non-credit or earn graduate credit that can be applied to a MBA.

The other program, Business Leadership Certificate, for middle managers, will focus on becoming an effective leader. This program will be offered on Fairfield's campus on Mondays and Thursdays, 7 to 9 p.m., and at the Landmark Club in Stamford on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5 to 7 p.m.

The growth in technology has resulted in new learning opportunities for adults at Fairfield University. This fall, the E-Business Certificate will be offered for corporate managers and entrepreneurs who need to learn about the "Business of E-Business". Also, the Computer Graphics Certificate Program has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years. Dr. Wilson points out that the field is constantly changing and new courses with the latest software are constantly being developed. "Our computer graphics programs has received regional attention from employers who areeager to hire our students even before they finish the entire certificate. These skills are in high demand."

As the baby boomers age, there is expanded interest in program for early retirees. "In some cases, folks are looking for a second or third career," Dr. Wilson states, "but in most cases, retirement is a time when learning for the sake of learning can occur." Fairfield University's Institute for Retired Professionals is a good example of this thirst for new knowledge among retired persons. Another example is the new partnership with the Silvermine Guild Arts Center where non-credit studio art courses will be offered.

The Open Visions Forum and the New Open Visions Academy are other examples of ways in which Fairfield University is meeting the learning needs of the community. Dr. Philip Eliasoph, faculty member and director of the programs explains," The idea of the academy is a state of mind where the exchange of ideas is the highest goal." He adds, "There is a hunger for interactive knowledge in Connecticut's population. "People may not have been in class since college or grad school but they have stayed well informed."

The Forum provides lectures where patrons can interact with speakers like George Stephanopoulos or William F. Buckley. The 2000-01 season will feature Tony Kushner, Joe Klein, Mia Farrow and Susan Sontag, just to name a few. For more information, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 after Labor Day.

The past 20 years have brought new delivery methods to education. This fall, students can enroll in a fully on-line English course or take several computer courses on-line. "SCE will be developing additional courses that can be taken on-line," Dr. Wilson explains, "We must design courses that meet the changing needs of our students."

For more information or to register, call the School of Continuing Education at (203) 254-4220 or 1-888-254-1566.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 6, 2000

Vol. 33, No. 7