March 1, 1999

CSU certificate programs prep professionals for marketplace change

To maintain competency (and employability), individuals in the workforce of the next century will need to accumulate learning equivalent to that associated with 30 credit hours of instruction ” every seven years.

” Transforming Higher Education, 1995

FORT COLLINS ” Since the beginning of the century, the land-grant institution now known as Colorado State University has, by its charter, served the needs of those involved in agriculture and the management and development of natural resources.

But as the economy in the region has diversified, so has the land-grant mission. The latest offerings from the Division of Educational Outreach represent a response to the changing economy of the community and the region at large.

“We are pioneering three new areas in this division,” explained Gailmarie Kimmel, manager of Credit Programs. “They are extended-education certificate programs, degree-completion programs, and single-credit workshops that follow the business training model.”

This spring, the program offers courses toward a 12-hour Marketing-Practices Certificate and a nine-hour Professional-Communication Certificate. These inaugural programs will be followed in the fall by two others: one in accounting and another in nonprofit management. And future plans call for a certificate program in cross-cultural communication.

These programs are part of a comprehensive rebuilding strategy, Kimmel said. The division was pared down by almost 60 percent five years ago in an attempt to find the core from which it could be redefined as a self-supporting enterprise within the university.

“Because we receive no public money, we have had to be inventive,” Kimmel said. “We have looked to the needs of the business community in designing affordable credit courses that are different from our Lifelong Learning Noncredit courses and even from our certificate programs such as paralegal training and supervisory development.”

The primary difference between the standard certificate courses and the extended education courses is that the latter are composed of clusters of courses that carry university credit. For example, the Marketing-Practices Certificate is a four-course program offered by the Department of Marketing in the College of Business. It begins with a required course in the principles of marketing and may be completed with three (out of seven) elective courses. Upon successful completion of the certificate, the student will have earned 12 credit hours.

Kimmel points out that these programs have been devised to meet a variety of educational strategies. Some participants plan to balance a major course of study with the certificate. Theresa Ramos-Garcia, director of community relations for Allnutt Funeral Service, is enthusiastic.

“I am getting a graduate degree in public relations,” she explained, “but I wanted to get some training in marketing. I was able to use the first course in the Marketing-Practices Certificate toward my degree. I can later complete the certificate without having to start a new degree in the College of Business.”

Ramos-Garcia points out the prerequisite “Principles of Marketing” was designed to introduce the concepts of marketing to those with no prior experience and then to move rapidly into the principles.

In addition to those who seek specific education without starting a new degree, there are many others who, for one reason or another, did not complete a bachelor¹s degree and need one for promotion or for a personal sense of conclusion. Certificate programs can lead to degree completion for the student who must take evening classes.

Responding to a paradigm shift

“One role of our division is to assist businesses and individual employees in our geographical area,´ said Arietta Wiedmann, director of extended studies at CSU.

This mission represents a fundamental change in the relationship of the university and the business community in which it exists. Historically, businesses did much of their training inhouse, primarily because business and manufacturing practices tended to change slowly. Likewise, employees could generally count on developing their basic skills incrementally and taking them from entry level to retirement.

That entire paradigm has undergone a drastic shift. Ordinary manufacturing skills no longer apply. Even ongoing, traditional agricultural enterprises must look to add value in order to survive. Computer literacy has become a baseline for employment, but that baseline slips away like mercury under the thumb.

As a result, both employers and employees have had to look for new ways to stay ahead of the curve, as well as to seek out opportunities for capitalizing on an expanding, apparently generous, economy.

“For our part,” Wiedmann said, “we are attempting to frame our educational content so that it is flexible enough to meet a fluid business environment. We can supply employers with a portfolio of accredited study that springs from specific business needs.”

Wiedmann also points out that the division is paying attention to a changing global marketplace that will present some interesting challenges and opportunities.

One challenge is the prospect of a single European currency ” the euro ” that is poised to test the supremacy of the U.S. dollar. It is perhaps the strength of the dollar that has allowed Americans to ride into foreign markets with inadequate cross-cultural business skills. To serve a need that is bound to become more critical in the coming years, the division will offer a certificate course in cross-cultural communication, aimed at business people who have faced the frustration of dealing with the conventions of commerce abroad.

“Next fall, we will also offer a certificate course in accounting, a skill that small-business owners with liberal-arts degrees might not already have, and a certificate in nonprofit management,” Wiedmann said.

The certification in nonprofit management will support a new partnership between the business community and local foundations, Kimmel said.

Competing for students

It has not been lost on those developing certificate programs at CSU that the community colleges (e.g. Front Range Community College and Aims Community College) and satellite programs from Regis University and the University of Phoenix have been aggressively pursuing the certificate-education market. However, Wiedmann believes that there are ways these institutions can work in partnership, both to serve the community and to sustain the economy.

“We have initiated some discussion with the community-college systems,” Wiedmann said. “The questions we have to answer are, How can we collaborate? How can we not duplicate our efforts?”

Meanwhile, adults who want certification and credit in areas such as marketing, business or cross-cultural communication, accounting, and nonprofit management have new opportunities to prepare themselves for the daunting demands ” not to mention the excitement ” of an economy that looks just like the Fourth of July.

For further information regarding credit programs in the Division of Education Outreach, contact Gailmarie Kimmel at (970)491-2965 or gkimmel@learn.colostate.edu.

To maintain competency (and employability), individuals in the workforce of the next century will need to accumulate learning equivalent to that associated with 30 credit hours of instruction ” every seven years.

” Transforming Higher Education, 1995

FORT COLLINS ” Since the beginning of the century, the land-grant institution now known as Colorado State University has, by its charter, served the needs of those involved in agriculture and the management and development of natural resources.

But as the economy in the region has diversified, so has the land-grant mission. The latest offerings from the Division of Educational Outreach represent a response to…

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