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, the educational experience and you know she said you had a -- you covered a particular interesting space and might be some of those you talk to, to start to fill in our knowledge about that. So, I wonder if you could just maybe start by telling us a little bit about you and what you’re up to and the program that you run. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Sure. So, you know, we are the continuing education kind of arm of Harvard University. So, we’re charged to opening up Harvard to the local community and through around the globe. Most of our students are working and going to school part-time, usually taking just one or two courses in the evening, more balancing family and work and so a lot of -- so I’m in charge of -mostly I’m in charge of the undergraduate degree program. So, I work with students who maybe have gone to school for one year or one and a half years and had to -- to leave school for whatever reason and are now back. They’re usually working full-time and they want to finish their undergraduate degree and they want a high quality experience, it’s going to be their time, their money, they wanted to be something significant so they’re choosing to come to Harvard and to do it in the evening and through distance education of course we’re seeing like other schools are large increasing enrollments around distance ed. And certainly not just from people from other states and other countries. We’re right here in Cambridge we want their convenience of being able to study online and still work and go on business trips and care for children and all that sort of things. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, I do oversee a lot of the professional masters programs as well and these are people who already have a bachelor’s degree and they’re coming back for some professional education, the master’s degree and environmental management or IT or easy in studies or journalism things like that. Who are either changing careers or who have reached to point in their career where they need some more credentialing to move up, or simply interested in the topic and once we’re in more -- but you know I think a lot of people are thinking about the environment more and want to change into that or thinking about journalism and wanting to make an impact in, either the governments and commenting and so and we provide high quality education at a fairly affordable price. We have a lot of our instructors come from the university or they come from local institution so like MIT and Brandeis and they come and they teach in the evening. And our -and our course of action it’s pretty much based on what the instructor www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -1-
wants to teach, we don’t have a core curriculum that we go out and hire people to teach we say which our expertise, what would you like to teach, we’re looking for something in environmental management, what can you bring to the table and so, you know we have a great -what’s wonderful about it is that you have a lot of students who want to be here and then you have a lot of faculty who want to be here teaching courses that they really want to teach so it’s great -- it’s wonderful synergy in the classroom. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Nice. That sounds really exciting. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, it’s really and, you know I think what makes us very unique is that we’re open enrollment so, you can come and just take a course or you need to do today is the first day of registration actually so you can jump online and find the course you’re interested in and just register. We don’t require anything else, if you want to join a program you need to take courses for that first and do well. So, like for the undergraduate program you have to take three courses, earn grades to D minus or higher in those three courses, one of them is a required writing class, the other two could be whatever you’d like. And as long as you can do the work then you’ll be admitted into our program, we don’t look at CTs or prior college work we say, you know, democratically if you can do the work then we want to admit you. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Most of our students are 31, 32 years old looking at a CT courses, not something that would be at all informative to the process. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: And, also students have been to school ten -- ten years ago or so, I mean again looking at those kinds of transcripts to evaluate students teams not at all what these people are today, they’re very different people. And so we want to judge them where they are and where they are is -- is what they can do now and we certainly want to make sure that they have strong writing and research skills, so a lot of the masters program require a research course at the beginning as well to make sure that they’re entering the program with strong writing and critical thinking and research goals and our writing courses are small, they’re limited to 15 students so people getting a lot of attention. So, it’s a perfect kind of gateway into the program and you know students really responded as they -- and especially adult students they want to be judge in who they are now and not who they were when they were 15, 16 and it’s -- it’s, you www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -2-
know, is a perfect match and it works very, very well. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think one of the big things that we -- I mean we have one of the highest retentions rates, I mean in the end of graduate program I’m looking at around an 88 to 89 percent retention when we get our students they stay, they don’t leave -- they had the quality of the teaching, the academic advising and the ease that we make it for them, giving their working schedules, you know, they find it a way to complete their degrees so I mean I think that speaks a lot to the success of the program, you know. [CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s very exciting based on what -- what we’ve discovered in our last month, it’s a -- it’s a pretty sharp program you’ve got going. How -- can I ask how you guys were able to come to -- to develop this program to make it so accessible and dynamic and --[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Well, I mean we have, you know, we’re lucky that, you know, at the turns of century a lot of innovation was going on around education there was kind of a whole revaluation where people were saying, you know, these big universities need to start to getting back to the community and luckily so we’re -- we’re celebrating our centennial this year so we have been around for a 100 years. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, you know at the beginning president of Harvard was very much part of this movement and he have established the extension school. And from the beginning we were designed as an undergraduate program. So, with open enrollment classes and we were kind of charge with the idea of pretty much educating teachers. There was a lot of people, a lot of population was growing and there wasn’t enough teachers and people needed to work as teachers and get proficient at it. So, we were -- that’s pretty much our history. [CHRIS FINLAY]: So -- sorry, the -- so the extension schools has been around for 100 years? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: A 100 years, yeah and --[CHRIS FINLAY]: Wow! And what could you tell me the philosophy of that is like, do you guys have like a mission statement or something that’s guided you through that 100 years? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, I mean I think the mission has been to, you know, kind of open the gates of the resources of this very www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -3-
rich university to local working people. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Yes. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: And so that’s what we have been doing. And as we have grown, I mean certainly with a very small enterprise, you know what 10, 15 courses, you know, a couple of 100 people and now we’re offering 650 courses, you know, we enroll over 15 -- you know, around 13,000 or 14,000 students a year from 89 different countries and you know, so I mean it’s certainly the expands, you know, you know 25, 35 years ago continuing education was just not as popular, but certainly now, you know going back to school, finishing your degree and, you know our master’s programs came in around the 70s, so we started off with the masters of liberal arts in 1974, ‘75 and then -- then we started adding, we’re pretty much of liberal arts school very much after the -- you know, kind of mission of Harvard College, is that at the end of graduate level you get a balance liberal arts degree and is that the graduate program where you get a more professional degree and but we offered the masters of liberal arts for many, many years, 20 or so years and then we started adding some professional degrees. So it’s a masters of liberal arts in environmental management. I’m not sure if the liberal arts in information technology. And we kind of built on the courses that we were getting from faculty. We had a lot of IT people came here so it just made sense that we could offer Masters in NIT. So I mean it is that’s our principal -- our principal is obviously as all continuing education schools are -- we also provide supported funding too to the -- through the parent organization we get a lots of money back to Harvard, so they can, you know, we help build buildings, we help, you know, fund the library we, you know, we do things to help the infrastructure of the college, so that’s what our mission, our mission also is to make sure that Ph.D. candidates have teaching opportunities a lot of our, you know, TAs and teaching fellows and things like that our Ph.D. candidates at the college so we’re hiring those people. It’s a place where faculty at the college can also innovate their courses, try something online, do something different here, try other course. So it’s kind of works like that. But you know, I mean we’re lucky we’re in Boston I mean there’s a -- there’s a lot of people who want to teach and there’s a lot of colleges, I mean universities where we can pull from and so it’s -- it’s very helpful where we are. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah, it’s a nice -- nice resource pool too. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah. And it wouldn’t working a lot of others but --www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -4-
[CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s interesting. So, are there other, I mean I’m really festinated by what you guys have been able to build and it seems like you’re really putting sort of what -- what we’re starting to call like the needs of the student come first rather than and it really making the discussion about the institution it’s sort of saying, well, you know having all these, like how the students need it, which doesn’t actually seem to be a guiding principal for a lot of universities. I -- I would think that people would sort of have inspire to -- to your program in a way. And I wonder if there is places that you’re working with or -- or people who also find to be working at your level of engagement --[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think that, you know, like, you know traditional programs are -- were traditional problematic but you know continuing ed programs have to be innovative or much more so then full-time day programs where you have a captured audience right you have only so many people that you could admit try to admit all those people and they’re -- once they are here, they are here. You don’t have the need to be innovative once students are there it’s not as -where continuing ed not only that you want to, you know, have people -- here you want people to stay and come back and take more courses and you also want them to finish their degrees. And you also want them to tell their friends to come and you know, so it’s -- it’s much more entrepreneurial, it’s much more of the slightly more business on model and that you, you know, you got to figure out where the students are at and how we can do ever something of quality, you know, different times, different I mean you know different modes and you also need to think more than just logo you have to think, I mean no continue education program is going to grow by just thinking that they’re going to capture the local audiences especially in Massachusetts it’s just way too much competition. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know, you need to think about how you’re going to get students in California, in Illinois and Wisconsin and -- and you know, in Europe as well. So you have to be just more interested in that and of course I think people who are trying to continuing at I just feel a little bit more, you know, open and democratic about its case and its -- I mean I don’t -- I came to what thinking that you know someone at 15 who you know is a superstar and they had parents who are really supportive of that, you know, gets to go on to a place like Harvard, right? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: But it’s you know you’re working class and your -- your parents don’t understand anything about college and www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -5-
you want to superstar at -- in high school because you didn’t have that kind of support but you’re very smart and you want to learn more, you know where do you go? I mean they’re -- we’re here to make sure that those people don’t get lost. I mean they have a lot to contribute, they have a lot to -- they want to learn a lot about things they don’t -- and also because our program is focused on a liberal arts as well as professionals and our students come not just to learn business or to learn accounting, you know, they want to learn about, you know, catholic literature and you know, ancient medieval art and you know, the things that they feel they were missed out on was gone through. And I also think sometimes people think of continuing students as people who weren’t able to cut it the first time around and that’s certainly not our experience I mean we just hear the stories about how difficult it was to go to school right out of high school. And how, you know, a parent guide and they had to go home to work or, you know, or they just -- they knew it wasn’t as meaningful for them, they -- they felt like I’m here because someone told me I should be here and I’m -and I’m really not making any really solid meaning out of this experience, so let me go out and work and see if I can find what I really want to do and I think that takes a lot of courage to say I’m not going to follow the crowd, I’m actually going to step out and try to figure this out and then come back when I’m really understanding it where those people are going to go? So I mean there’s sense that we’re here for all that we’re here for the people who decided to, you know, be ballet dancers and couldn’t go to school and the people who, you know, the parents guide and lost money and you know there is a whole group of people that need to be educated not just the ones that, you know, goes to the track the way that we -- we like people to go through. And so there’s a commitment to making education more accessible, but there’s also the need that we have to, you know, we have to fund ourselves, you know, we’re not getting any kind of money from endowment money or any of that I mean most continuing programs you have to survive on your own. So, you have to be innovated, you have to find the way or else you just not going to survive and you know the parent organization is not going to, you know, spend money on something like this -- this has to be a moneymaker for them, for them to support it. So you know, we need to make sure that we are -- where the students are for those reasons. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Makes a lot of sense, do you want to have something? [ALEX TROITZSCH]: Yeah, I just -- Hi, Suzan this is Alex. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Hey. www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -6-
[ALEX TROITZSCH]: I just would like to ask you like your students, are they looking for degree like -- say like finishing the bachelors or masters degree or do you also have like large number of students that think about life long earning that stay actually longer than? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, I would -- I would say that most of our students are that, most of our students are coming taking one or two courses for their own enrichment or for their professional development. So we have a lot of -- you know, most of our students are already have a bachelors degree so I think it’s like 75 percent already have a bachelors degree and then we have another 20 percent that have a masters degree and you know like five or seven percent that have Ph.D. So it’s a pretty educated population in general that come to the Harvard Extension School. And yeah, a large segment, you know 70 percent or so are here just for their own benefit taking one or two courses either in, you know, as I said liberal arts area that they always want to learn a foreign language or creative writing class you know, art history, you know government maybe they want to learn more about the supreme court and what’s happening there, and tautology, you know, whatever as well as IT and accounting and management we have all of that as well so, yeah there is a large pool of people the majority of them I would say are here to -- to do that and then we have about 10 to 20 percent of the students who are here to finish a degree or to start a degree just, you know, the masters program all of it has to be done here so you have to complete your whole masters program here. But the bachelors program we’re transferring about half of the credits so you can finish the degree completion program. You can start from graduate -- and most students come in with about a year and a half of transfer credits but we see students that all agents here one other things is that we don’t say you have to be at certain age like a lot of continuing ed programs you have to be 25 to earn a degree and least you know we have kids here, we have 15-year-old, 13-year-old, we have 8-year-old, you know we’re -- we’re very much back away from the idea that we’re going to put a -- put a selection process on so we’re here you come you can do the work and then you’re admitted and wherever you are, whoever you are if you’re a home school kid, you want to get their associates degree then we’re here for you as long as you can do the work if you’re you know, retired in 75 and you never went to school before we’re here if you can do the work. And we make sure that our -- that our faculty members hold them to high standards and they’re surrounded by people who are educated or surrounded by people who are here because they want to be here and they’re putting in the efforts and they kind of rubs off on everybody, you know, the level of www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -7-
academic achievement arises I mean everyone is here surrounded by Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, there’s a sense you’re walking in the -- the same pathways that you know William James and Henry David Thoreau walks through I mean there is that that rising of expectations that happens here at Harvard that may not happen in other places that we also capitalize on students, you know, not all of them but the majority of them rise to the occasion and do the work. [CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s really interesting to -- to hear about sort of setting the expectation and it’s something we’ve a heard a lot about actually in -- and not really directly actually or overtly stated, it’s a -that this setting of that expectation and then both of teachers and student kind of rising to meet that and understanding what they’re engaging with it’s a really powerful component of -- of the learning assets. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: It is, I think that it’s you know, it’s hard, you know, I think especially if you’re at a place a lot of students were there just because someone said it was a good idea to be there. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know, I think that it’s -- it’s you know kind of a natural progression to go from high school to college for a lot of people and they’re a little bit lost and, you know, it’s hard to motivate people and there is also a lot of schools put a lot of requirements on students so they have to take this class and have to take that class and so sometimes they’re in classes that they don’t really want to be in and they’re not really sure why they’re there and then you have faculty who’re teaching in classes that someone told them they had to teach and maybe they’re not that interested in it. So it, you know, those that type of dynamic and I’m sure it works and people find the way to make it work, you know, we don’t have enough, we don’t have a lot of that I mean we have students who are here because they’re putting their money down and their time and we have faculty again who’re -- who’re teaching the courses that they want to teach. So sometimes what makes it difficult right is that if you’re interested in art history we may not have a course that our art history courses every year maybe because someone will be teaching something different. So I mean it’s good and it’s contrive on that dynamic that maybe a really new interesting class that’s you know, coming up and with something and -- but we’ll have in one year we wouldn’t have it the next. So I mean that there is, obviously there is to make it that where you know, you can’t, you can’t commit to the idea that I’m going to do this set of core curriculum and it’s going to be there all the time and our catalogue changes about 25 to 30 percent every year. And there is always new courses coming and other www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -8-
courses leaving. You know so it really as it based on the faculty proposing a course that they want to teach. Certainly there’re core requirements that we have for our programs that we have to fulfill but I mean those -- those faculties have already bought into that from the beginning and so they’re there, they want to be there so. [CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s great. So considering what seems to be the -the power and student centeredness of this approach and sort of the description of and -- and what we have also agree with and then covered sort of students ending up and places they don’t really understand their learning things they don’t understand. What do you think or do you think it’s possible to just sort of spread the approach you guys have to sort of the traditional “colleges” and do you think that would work challenges what are your -- what are your thoughts? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I mean I don’t know, I know I haven’t -- I have never really worked in traditional programs. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, I just know what I read and I mean every application essay that I read, you know, I -- we admit people on bachelors of a 100 or so, you know, I read every application, essay and you know this -- this overall feeling of I didn’t know what I was there for, I didn’t -- I didn’t, you know, I was there because someone thought -- I thought it was a good idea and I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s a theme that people have and -- and that’s why they stop so I mean I don’t know what it is to try to, you know, maybe people you know, are not prepared, they’re not from high school to -- to make that transition, I mean some of them make it perfectly and it’s a great time for them to be going to school. But for others it’s not and I, you know, I think that if we could, you know, lessen up the pressure that you know, at 18 you’re supposed to be somewhere and at 21 you’re supposed to be finished with something and you know if we all could deal a little bit more on brace of that lifelong learning I think people would be more happy about it but I don’t know, I mean I -- I always in my mind one thing is that, you know, why we -- we tried to settle people into majors all the time like you have to choose a major, you can’t be undecided forever and you have to choose a major. And -- and I think it’s kind of at that point where I hear a lot of students said well I didn’t know what I wanted to be and I, you know, I didn’t know what major to choose so I decided to leave. And so I would think that that would be a place where some thought would be, you know, couldn’t people just be generalist and graduate with a general, you know, degree. Why is it that they need to -- to be shuffled into these -- these categories and these lots and that they have to choose a major and have to submit -you know, complete so many core requirements. I mean can’t we say www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl -9-
that people need to graduate with some writing, you know, strong writing skills and public speaking skills and some resource skills, and then they get better cross the curriculum and they can decide and they can put it in about what they want to do I mean unless you’re going to be a doctor or you know some -- some things we really need to have these core courses there should be a place for people who -- who not want to commit I think maybe that would help. [CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s -- I like that people who don’t want to commit, I couldn’t help with thinking of that all the men in the world. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yes. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Except for me though, of course. So you know -- it must be such a different learning experience for the -- the people you’re working with, I wonder if there were times or moments for you where you’re sort of interacting with students and they express sort of a revelation or how learning could be different or anything like that, is there anything particularly pointing that -- that’s come up for you with the student? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Let’s see. I think what happened here a lot is, is that students do kind of have this epiphany that they are smart and they are college material and not only that they are publicly graduate school material and you know a lot of our students, you know, are -- are unsure about themselves, you know, and when they go through this process they start to gain a lot of academic confidence and they want to go on to school I mean I hear a lot of people talk about, well now I want to get my masters degree I want to get my Ph.D. And sometimes that’s not realistic because they’re at an age where that makes it really hard to do then they’re also probably at salary. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Some of our students are probably making more than, than the beginning, professors making you know, I mean or you know to go back into that full-time student lifestyle with family and things like that. I mean not that our students don’t do it, they do but you know it’s a much -- the reality of that hits them after graduation when they start exploring some of these things that maybe it is a little too late, it kind of turn their life upside down for some of these academic aspirations and they find a middle ground somewhere but it is that kind of, I’m not sure I can do that, I don’t know if I belong here, but I’m going to -- but there’s something inside of them that says maybe I can and then -- then they start taking courses and they start to do well and they start to get confidence and then they’re www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl - 10 -
surrounded by people who are putting academics at the center of their life and so they start to get more interested in that and they eat off of that and they start to get stronger academically and then they think maybe this is going to be my life and -- and then you know, some of them do I mean a lot of our students, some of our students go to course law school, in business school but Ph.D. programs, but others find a way to sit -- you know academic life into their work life, you know they continue to take courses, they continue to write, they -- you know they find ways. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: So, that’s kind of cycle that I see --[CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: --- in terms of meaningful and I think it just becomes much more part of their life, you know, they’ll read more, they’ll be interested, they’ll be a lifelong learners. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know a lot of this is about identity, I mean a lot of people were at the field marched, you know and they want someone to say that they’re smart. The degree and you know in this country we certified everything, you know, you can’t feel good about yourself unless you have a piece of paper. And so there is -there is feeling that you know they’re out in the world, they’re surrounded by people who have bachelor’s degree and they don’t and they -- they want to feel part of that community. I mean we can’t -like there’s -- there’s a big identity issue that goes on with continuing especially with the adult that go over here. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I mean these people are probably working at jobs where they should have masters degree so the feeling like -- may I have -- probably I need to tell you that I have my Ph.D. in adult education and I did a qualitative research project on my student so, some of them are just coming through that, you know, interviewing my students about why they return to school so, you know my in-depth qualitative research was about, mostly about wanting an identity, you know wanting to be confirmed always thinking they were smart and -and now they feel like they can claim that identity. [CHRIS FINLAY]: That’s great. Is there a way we could see that report or read your report? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Yeah, sure. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Well, I do that. Well, I do that. Well, I have to www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl - 11 -
check that out. I’m sure it’s got a great perspective or inside that we haven’t yeah, yeah gotten. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: You know, it’s hard though I mean I think about thing that they also talked about was that, you know, they’re doing the undergraduate degree in an age, at a more advance stage 31, 32, 33, 35 you know, and you know they’re feeling like they have to like catch up and that other people are working on masters or other degrees at this time. So, when it -- they’re feeling behind the game, you know, like there’s this like, there’s cultural clock that we put on people, that people should be doing things as times and if you’re not there’s something wrong with you. Adult students have to deal with a lot, they have to deal with -- with that feeling left behind, they have to deal with, you know -- you know, feeling like they’re working twice as hard as traditional students, you know, they’re working and going school and they’re putting a lot more effort into their studies then -then sometimes they feel traditionally students do but they have much more luxuries, you know, they’re going to school full-time they don’t have to work they have parental support they have, you know, all these people helping them and here they’re doing it alone, you know, by themselves, you know, much support, paying for themselves while they’re working and yet you know, they feel the society looks down at them for -- for doing it this way that somehow they’re less than for not doing the traditional way. So you know, it’s not an easy road for -- for continuing as a students, especially in this area and I’m sure that you went out the Midwest and other places it wouldn’t be but when you’re continuing at student at Harvard there’s a lot of identity issues. I mean that you’re constantly being compared to the -- to the brightest and the most richest university in the -- in the one of the -- in the world. So I mean it’s hard to live those true world, it’s hard to be working and coming from a working class background and going to school here and then, you know, having this -- this other place that’s here too, and how do you -- how do you relate to that place, do you belong in this place, you know, should you just keep -- you said you’re great about what you’re doing, you know, I mean so those kinds of issues are per unique here at Harvard and tell you to other continuing -- I mean there’s not a lot of continuing ed programs at schools are waiting on a degree I mean some of them have certainly not in the scale that we have, you can -- you can have a program but you know firstly, if you, you know, Brown has the program if you’re 25 years old and you want to come and but it’s mostly a day program it’s not, I mean Brown is not open to continuing as a students, I mean you can take some non-credit courses there or whatever but I mean they’re not welcoming people from Providence to come and earn their degree at Brown, right? www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl - 12 -
[CHRIS FINLAY]: Yeah. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: They’re -- they’re nervous so they would be very nervous about that their brand and all of that. So, you know and that -- those types of things that you know we have through the experience here for sure. [CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s great. So, I guess along those lines and maybe you already have just kind of figured out based on you doing your own research, if you had the opportunity to go out and speak to students from not -- not just continuing ed but you know from -- from community colleges or text schools, you know, across the spectrum what -- what would you ask them, what would like to know? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Well, what I would like to know from community college students? [CHRIS FINLAY]: Well, just students from across the spectrum if -you know we’re going out to -- to do this research with students from also to different schools and I wonder if there’re any questions that you would -- you would like to ask? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Well, I mean I think the big thing for me it’s from a very, I mean I’m a proponent of liberal arts education so I mean I would want to know -- I would want to try to help people think about, you know, why are they there and what do they want to learn versus why I want to get -- I want to get training for a job. I mean not that I -- I mean I certainly understand that and I did it myself I understand desire for that but I also know what education can do in terms of transforming someone’s thinking that I’m not just a worker, I’m a thinker and I, you know, and I think that’s really important because I -- sometimes I feel that, you know, especially at community college and school there’s a way to trained -- to trained for a particular job but also not to -- to consider myself just a worker. And then I have other ways I can -- citizen and be an educated citizen and just be an educated person and lifelong learner. So, I think it might be interested in that it would be interested in -- in questions around that based the education as to the -- a way that they trained for a job, are they looking for more out of it, and do they even have, you know, can’t even hope that it would be more than that. Are they getting any -from the institution that they -- they could be more than that as a institution just giving them the message that, okay a radio, you know, you’re going to be a technologist and you know, these are the things you can learn or in the classes they’re asking people to think critically about -- about what it’s like to be a worker and -- and so I mean I don’t www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl - 13 -
know, those are the kinds of things I’m interested in. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I mean I’m certainly interested in the ways that we can keep -- keep people in school if they want to be in school I mean I find it very sad that if someone wants to be there and they can’t and they leave I don’t feel upset if someone feels this is not the right time for them to be at school and they need to leave I think that that’s a very brave and an important thing to do, but if they really want to be there and they’re -- they’re leaving then I, I mean I want to know more about that, why? Is it just financial, are they just not fitting in, are they just not finding other students by themselves, other ways of connecting? No. But our students in terms of the student experience in the life I mean our students are fairly busy people so I mean they talk a lot about wanting community here but it’s hard to form community I mean these people are juggling, you know what family, work and school when are they going to come and have time to come and have, you know, a reception or you know, things like that. So I try to build community around things that are -- that are meaningful to them like, you know we have -- we developed faculty ed program where our students can work one on one with the faculty member in the research setting. So they can get research experience and they can, you know, connect with the faculty member that way that has been incredibly successful even from people who are working. And if they’re thinking about going on to graduate school it’s great thing they want to get to know faculty member better, you know, it’s -it’s things like that I find work with continuing ed students versus trying to have parties or trying to connect them to a social engagement that is they just don’t have the time for that. And you know they have to make choices, they have to decide and I’m going to go and spend a couple of hours and some students do, but it -- but it doesn’t get the numbers but if we could find ways that I’m connecting particularly with faculty so I find that important part of the process. I mean we know a lot from the research that it’s -- the students can connect with faculty that more likely to sticks with it. And so, anyways I can get them to -- to do that, you know, the faculty ed programs has been great. [CHRIS FINLAY]: It’s great. Suzan, I want to be respectful of your time I just have like three more questions, would that be okay? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: Okay. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Okay. So I guess along those lines, what are some of the -- the big learn, like maybe the big challenges and big things you’ve learned to really make this community work or -- or make it, www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl - 14 -
make it work best? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think my biggest thing was to -- to not assume that because they were working that they wouldn’t have time for traditional things and I don’t mean social things but I think the thing like the faculty ed program or you know I think they were -- when I started working in continuing ed 25 years ago there was the thought that you know, you know just wanted to come and do their classes and they weren’t at all interested in other things. And I was -- I think that you need to look at what the day school provide in terms of support services and think about each one of them and figure out if they are pertinent to the adult population. You know, the faculty ed program is the perfect example because that was one where I proposed that and everyone though that that would -- you know, adult students don’t have time to do that, they’re not going to do that, they’re not going to, you know, work for $10.00 an hour for a faculty member. They -- you know, it was very much positive they don’t have -- they can’t do that, they don’t want to do that, they’re here just for job training they don’t -- they are not interested in our academic life. And you know working in the -- you know, ground up you know, I’m an advisor as well as the Dean, I meet with students all the time so I hear what they want and you know, so that was the program that Harvard College offered. I thought how it work there and I was like we should have it here that is something our students should have they should have all the resources they need if they want to go on to graduate school we need so that they have the resources that they need to do that and also academic services, I mean we didn’t offer any writing workshops or any help issue or running in to trouble or you know, we figured adult students can take care of themselves. Well, no, they need -- they need workshops and they need, you know, services and they need clear services so we, you know, we have to build up what’s right. You know but you don’t -- you don’t have to build a whole career centre for a continuing ed students, you can a find the way to do it piecemeal because there are a lot of -- already have jobs here who don’t need career services but there are -- there are adults that don’t so you have to figure out a way not just to purchase wholesale what -- what our program has during the day but look at each service and evaluate it and then offer it on a small scale to continuing education students to keep them, to give them a little bit of a safety net when they needed and to keep them motivated and to find ways for them to connect with faculty so they can go on to graduate schools if they want to because you can’t go on a graduate school unless if strong -- there is a recommendation from faculty without research experience and you know, you can’t assume that these -- these students are here just for job, they’re here for a lot of different reasons. www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl - 15 -
[SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: And making you know independent study where they can work one on one with the faculty member and a tutorial setting and working on a research project that was something that they had during the day that I figured we need to have that here being able to take courses during the day, one or two courses during the day and transfer it to their program here, you know, that works out very well. [CHRIS FINLAY]: Nice. [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I think that’s kind of not assuming that they wouldn’t make time for academic not assume they don’t need a safe -- some kind of you know, support services and finding ways to doing it that’s not expensive and that meets their needs and you know one of those things here too is, I mean we’re very clean staff so you have to be, to where it multiple hats and do multiple things and you know people have to work pretty hard and continuing it. You know there’s not a whole lot of staff, you know, we have to keep the cost down so you have to have people who are pretty committed and are willing to -- to do a bunch of good things during the day and you know to run things and to you know, to add on to their responsibilities without adding onto their salary. So, you know, there has to be a little bit of a mission when you hire people, you know, you had -- when I -when I look for someone I have to have find that they really are committed as well as or have strong skills but you know, you have to kind of have people who are interested in the mission of the school and that’s why they want to work here. And I think we’re doing something incredibly special, we’re making a very high quality education with -with you know our students have access to all the libraries here in Harvard. I mean it’s an amazing place for very affordable price and way in is let you do the work, I mean it’s you know if more schools are like that more people would be educated and we would have a more engaged citizenship but I mean I think we always want to feel like we’re selecting just the top of the top people want to feel like I’m special and, you know, I’m one of 100 and people that got admitted to share or you know, the idea that you know that a college education is -- has an exchange value it’s not a used value, right? [SUZANNE SPREADBURY]: I very much believe the education have a used value that it change people to think and you know whether they do it Bunker Hill Community College or whether you do it here. You know, so it when they get out there in the job market it’s not this consumerism it’s not something where you know, it’s -- the selection process where it’s, you know, it’s a commodity, you know, and how www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl - 16 -
much somebody got, you know, got through the -- the clearing house and was able to, you know, be at the top of the top. You know that works for a very small number of people in this population, it doesn’t in it, you know, you wouldn’t be able to survive that way. I mean education is getting way too expensive it’s going to become a lead commodity that only the very rich are going to be able to do. And if we don’t make some changes and you know support programs like this and at other institutions like Brown and like you know, MIT and like you know, and I don’t know what we’re going to end up with.
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