Community college's continuing education program is lauded

HCC's is one of the best in North America, say independent consultants

Described as `outstanding'

March 21, 2000|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Howard Community College's continuing education program is one of the best in North America, according to independent consultants who audited the department.

Learning Resources Network, the largest nonprofit organization focusing on continuing education, studied HCC's Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development for six months and pronounced it an "outstanding program."

"There were lots of positive things," Gregory Marsello, the nonprofit's vice president for organizational development, said yesterday. "There are things they're doing very well -- they're doing things better than most."

Marsello, who coordinated the audit from July through December, said his organization reviewed everything from finances to registration to see how the division is doing and how it could improve. His team also surveyed instructors, staff members and students.

The report -- the first audit of the continuing education division -- outlines 17 key recommendations for improvement.

"We got a lot of useful information from it," said JoAnn Hawkins, HCC's associate vice president for continuing education and work force development. "It was a wonderful staff development process. We learned a great deal about how we operate."

Among the auditors' recommendations is to make one person responsible for marketing the continuing education division because it is so large. It serves about one-third of the full-time-equivalent students at HCC.

Hawkins said she plans to hire someone for the position by July 1.

The auditors also recommended that the college focus more aggressively on repeat customers -- students who return for more courses -- to determine how to increase that enrollment.

"They're working on that," Marsello said.

He said the continuing education division's strong points include a wide range of programs and clear, up-to-date information in brochures and on the Internet.

Every year, more than 12,000 people take classes offered by the continuing education division. Courses range from basic skills and high school diploma completion to foreign languages, technical training and licensing and certification.

The division also runs Kids on Campus, year-round enrichment classes for children in grades two through 12.

The audit report will give staff members in the division a blueprint for the next few years, Hawkins said. "We wanted to make sure we are growing the in right direction," she said.

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