Continuing Education Added to Dean's Role
Continuing Education recently moved under the same organizational umbrella – and to the same end of the 4th floor hallway in Cohodas – as the College of Graduate Studies and Research. The reorganization marks a return to a similar structure that was in place at NMU several years ago. Cynthia Prosen was named dean of the college early this year. In the wake of the merger, she has expanded not only her staff and role, but her vision.
Prosen’s top priorities include the following: significantly increasing the availability of online options – from individual courses to degree-completion and graduate certificate programs; hiring a grant writer to help faculty cultivate new grant opportunities based on their interests and help manage grants once they’re obtained; and developing graduate certificate programs that respond to the needs of non-traditional students who are older, professionally established and may have family commitments on top of their jobs, making it difficult to come to campus during normal hours.
As an example of the latter, Prosen said, “More than 200 non-profit organizations operate in the Upper Peninsula. There are a lot of wonderful people who lead these organizations and are devoted to their missions, but these people may not be skilled in the day-to-day operational aspects of running a business, which is essentially what they’re doing. Northern could offer a graduate certificate in non-profit management that would help these organization leaders function even more effectively and efficiently. Or perhaps a certificate in adult learning and development would be helpful, since so many workers change jobs in today’s fast-moving economic environment. There are hundreds of options along these lines, and online courses might be the most feasible way to offer these programs.”
Prosen said much of what she focuses on as dean is related to continuing education in some way. And because the Continuing Education Office had been doing research pertaining to faculty grants, she said the addition of that entity will be a nice complement.
A former psychology professor at NMU, Prosen still maintains a research laboratory with 13 undergraduate students. She plans to continue as long as possible, despite her expanded supervisory role.
"I like the idea of the dean of research actually doing research," Prosen said. "It keeps me in touch with the challenges of our faculty. … Serving as dean is overwhelming, but in an exciting way. We aren’t going to abandon the traditional graduate school population – in fact, we’re going to expand those programs consistent with the NMU mission. But we also have to reach out in new ways to non-traditional students. I stay up at night thinking of new directions, and I’m thrilled to hear ideas from others.”