Adult learner initiatives and Continuing Education director win awards

Penn State's initiatives to increase adult learner enrollments and Penn State York's director of Continuing Education were honored Sept. 29 with four awards from the University Professional Continuing Education Association's (UPCEA) Mid-Atlantic Region during a conference held at Penn State. UPCEA is an international professional association for those in higher continuing education and lifelong learning.

"The awards recognize our efforts to make a Penn State education more accessible to adult learners and to businesses seeking to educate and train their employees, as well as to military servicemembers and veterans," said Wayne Smutz, executive director of Penn State World Campus and associate vice president for Academic Outreach. "Education is particularly important during the current economic climate when having the latest knowledge and skills can help adults retain a job or prepare for a new career."

UPCEA's Mid-Atlantic Region encompasses Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia and West Virginia. Penn State, a region member, hosted this year's annual conference at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.

The four UPCEA awards are:

* Alexander Charters Outstanding Continuing Educator Award for Jeff Warner, director of Continuing Education (CE) at Penn State York. Since becoming CE director in 2007, Warner has reorganized the unit, joined community organizations and sought input from adult learners and the business community about their education needs. Using his Web design and marketing expertise, he has created marketing materials to raise awareness of Penn State's educational resources. His efforts have resulted in the creation of Technavate, a university-industry partnership that promotes innovation and commercialization of technology. Warner also has developed specialized training programs for companies and has engaged York campus faculty to teach video-based continuing education courses that are delivered at multiple campuses.

* Institutional Partnership Award for the Penn State Learning Center in Lewistown. Since Penn State began offering Continuing Education courses and Cooperative Extension programs in Lewistown in the 1990s, this University-community partnership has continued to grow. Three partners -- the Learning Center, Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing and Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center's Practical Nursing Program -- are collaborating to educate and train nurses to work in the region. The center also offers high school students opportunities to take college courses, and young people can take tours and participate in summer camps at the center's new Science and Health Lab. The lab was instrumental in the School of Nursing receiving national accreditation for its program. Course enrollments also are continuing to increase.

* Marketing and Promotions: Broadcast or Print Award for the Penn State World Campus -- Integrated Military Marketing Campaign. The goal of this campaign, which began in 2009, was to build brand awareness, a strong referral basis and a consistent presence in multiple venues within the military/veteran market, including public relations, military installation education center briefings and education fairs, print media direct mail and advertising, development efforts and electronic media, to generate consistently strong enrollment growth in Penn State's online education programs delivered through World Campus. The campaign has led to military/veteran student enrollments of 3,564, or 11 percent of overall World Campus enrollments, for fiscal year 2009–10.

* Marketing and Promotions: Electronic Award for the Continuing Education at University Park website. A team of academic advisers, career counselors, front-line phone staff, program managers and marketers assisted with the complete website redesign, which was done by Penn State Outreach Marketing. The project goal was to improve usability of the Web site and increase adult learner enrollment. The new site provides prospective adult learners, current adult students and people seeking corporate professional development with self-serve tools, one-source information and opportunities for student involvement. Since its launch in August 2009, the percentage of unique visitors to the site has increased from 49 to 76 percent. Enrollment has risen 8 percent for fiscal year 2009–10.

For more information about Penn State York Continuing Education programs: www.ce.yk.psu.edu; Penn State Learning Center in Lewistown: http://ceup.psu.edu/lewistown; programs and services for military and veteran students: www.worldcampus.psu.edu/militaryservices; and Continuing Education programs for adult learners: http://ceup.psu.edu/.

Penn State York Continuing Education, Penn State Learning Center in Lewistown, Penn State World Campus and Continuing Education at University Park are part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010