CLAS Office of Lifelong Learning and Outreach to Make a Difference in the Community
Levine-Clark spearheads new efforts and refocuses old ones
This year, CLAS Associate Professor of History Marjorie Levine-Clark took over as Associate Dean for Planning and Initiatives. She felt strongly that "and Diversity" should be added to the end of her title, because fostering the College's strategic priorities around diversity and inclusion is an important part of her responsibilities. In addition to revitalizing the CLAS Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and overseeing the Council's establishment of a regular slate of diversity focused events (like this semester's very successful Interdisciplinary Exchanges), Levine-Clark made the title change happen; she is now Associate Dean for Planning, Initiatives, and Diversity.
Another main concern of Levine-Clark's is CLAS's relationships with the wider community. With this in mind, she led an effort to create the Office of Lifelong Learning and Outreach (OLLO). This office brings together formerly disparate initiatives under one banner to focus CLAS energies on important missions: to broaden educational access to non-traditional and underserved groups, and to better connect CLAS faculty, staff, and students to the Denver community. Learning, as conceptualized by the OLLO, is an on-going process that begins in childhood, develops in K-12 education, advances through undergraduate and graduate work, and ripens in the post graduate years. Says Levine-Clark, "Lifelong learning happens both inside and outside of classrooms, in formal and informal settings, and through traditional and nontraditional formats. OLLO supports students at all levels in finding programs that provide enriching learning experiences and contribute to their knowledge as informed citizens of their local, national, and global communities." A central aim of OLLO will be to foster integrative learning, an emphasis of the Learning Enhancement Taskforce (profiled in the October issue), of which Levine-Clark was also a member.
By collecting the College's outreach efforts in the OLLO, Levine-Clark hopes to increase awareness of the excellent work that CLAS faculty, students, and staff bring to the Denver community and beyond. "We want to increase our partnerships," Levine-Clark says. "There are a lot of people and organizations out there who need to know more about what we do."
The most established program that now falls under the OLLO is the CU Succeed program. Directed by Danny E. Martinez, and coordinated by Fatimah Ben-Masaud, CU Succeed offers high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through enrollment in CU Denver courses in their own high schools. CU Succeed provides students with exposure to the rigor of college courses at a reduced tuition rate. All courses are taught by CU Denver-approved teachers, and students receive college credit with a letter grade that appears on a CU Denver transcript. Each year, the program serves more than 4,000 students in over 90 high schools and 43 school districts throughout Colorado. Started in 1990, CU Succeed is one of the longest running and most successful programs of its kind in the state.
CLAS's commitment to K-12 outreach will be showcased by the OLLO, which will work to increase participation in the wide variety of programs that CLAS sponsors or supports. Department-housed programs for K-12 students, like National History Day in Colorado (profiled in this issue), bring hundreds of students and their parents to campus each year, garnering great exposure for the university. For the first time this year CLAS also became a sponsor of the Colorado Destination Imagination (DI) program, which brought over a thousand participants and supporters to the Auraria campus for its state competition on April 12th. Says Levine-Clark of DI, "This program shows off the best of the liberal arts and sciences. Students develop skills in team work, inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, oral and written communication, and integrating the sciences and the arts. And, their projects are really amazing." Outreach beyond campus includes CLAS sponsorship of the Denver Metropolitan Regional Science and Engineering Fair (happening each year at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science); the region's primary science competition for middle and high school students. In the future, the OLLO will be looking for ways to develop better infrastructure for scientific inquiry, with initiatives like the Hyperlab (profiled in this issue), to help encourage high school students to stay engaged in STEM. Finally, because K-12 outreach involves more than reaching students, the OLLO will be looking for ways to assist in expanding the efforts of several longstanding programs directed at helping area educators as well. The Denver Writing Project (profiled in this issue) provides professional development in writing for teachers throughout the state, as well as bringing small groups of middle and high school students to campus. OLLO will continue to look for ways to help promote the efforts of these programs in the community.
Continuing and Professional Education
The Continuing and Professional Education (CPE) Office, also known colloquially as Extended Studies or Distance Education, will now fall under the umbrella of the OLLO. CPE provides for-credit courses, certificates, and programs (undergraduate and graduate) as well as non-credit courses for professional development or personal interest. CLAS's most developed CPE program, the Center for New Directions in Politics and Public Policy, offers a Master's Degree in Political Science with an emphasis in politics and public policy. A Leadership Certificate focused in the areas of politics and public policy was recently approved as well. These programs help students develop the political acumen necessary for being effective leaders and agents of change in neighborhoods, communities, governmental jurisdictions, and nonprofit entities.
The OLLO will be looking to collaborate with CLAS faculty to develop further exciting CPE opportunities. The newly announced CU South Denver campus, housed in the Wildlife Experience, will create new opportunities for CLAS to become more geographically accessible to the South Metro Denver community. CPE fosters specialized programs for businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations, some of which provide continuing education units (CEUs) to practicing professionals in fields that require state licensure and professional development. For individuals passionate about life-long-learning for its own sake, non-credit, personal enrichment courses offer an easy and enjoyable way for non-traditional students to gain access to CLAS's excellent faculty. Senior-citizens and others have the opportunity to audit CLAS classes via the CPE Auditing program. In the future, CPE will be moving with the university as it explores the potential for technology to expand lifelong learning in exciting, previously unexplored ways.
Capping off a slate of ambitious and far-reaching initiatives, Levine-Clark is especially proud of the CLAS Speakers Bureau project, set to launch in the fall of 2014. The Speaker's Bureau is an outreach initiative that matches CLAS scholars to community needs. Expert faculty will be available on a volunteer basis to provide lectures or workshops in their areas of expertise to local schools, businesses, and organizations. Levine-Clark has been gathering information for the past year on the vast array of subjects that will be included on the Speakers Bureau website. Levine-Clark says it makes sense that we make ourselves more available to share our knowledge with our Denver community: "I actually got this idea after talking on a career day at my daughter's middle school about what historians do. I had such a great time sharing my passion for my subject and listening to the students' questions. I thought we should have a clearinghouse where people and organizations who want speakers can easily find CLAS faculty and interesting topics." Faculty interested in participating who have not already reached out to Levine-Clark are encouraged to do so, and any community partners interested in reserving speakers are encouraged to contact Levine-Clark as well.
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In the coming 2014-2015 academic year, Associate Dean for Planning, Initiatives, and Diversity Marjorie Levine-Clark looks forward to the OLLO becoming accessible to the CLAS community and beyond through developments on the CLAS website. In addition to launching the Speakers Bureau, a new segment of the site will house information on upcoming OLLO events, easy-to-access resources for lifelong learners and much more. Those who rely on CLAS and CU Denver to help them achieve their lifelong learning goals have a powerful ally in Levine-Clark and the Office of Lifelong Learning and Outreach.