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Continuing education in the California State University system: A case study exploration of the role and practices of one extended education unit


Higher education is experiencing a time of unprecedented disruption. Growing public dissatisfaction, declining state and federal funding, increased state and federal regulation, and technological innovations threaten the academic core. The current climate provides new opportunities for core academic departments to partner with market driven continuing education units to reach new audiences, create relevant programs that students demand, and generate new revenue to offset reduced state funding. This study documents how staff and administrators within one continuing education (CE) unit describe best practices within their division. But this study also found that very little is known by the faculty within the traditional academic core departments about the CE unit or about how partnering with it could benefit them. Further, many faculty and administrators in the academic core hold negative perceptions of the CE unit. The result is a lack of translation of knowledge and opportunities that could be used by core academic departments to respond and adapt to disruptive external forces. In light of these findings, several recommendations are offered to assist the university in harnessing the resources of the campus CE unit to engage external constituents in the development of programs that respond to a real need and position the university as an intellectual, social, and cultural resource within the community.

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