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ODU's College of Continuing Education & Professional Development Provides Employees the Credentials and Skills They Need to Thrive

In the words of founding Dean James Shaeffer, Old Dominion University's new College of Continuing Education and Professional Development has as its goal giving students tools "they can use on Monday."

The College began operation this fall as a central hub for all of the credit and non-credit professional development courses offered by ODU.

"We're trying to position ODU as the University where people will go to pursue their professional development," Shaeffer said. "What we've done is put all the continuing education units together on campus, so now we are a one-stop, no matter what your professional development may be."

Included under the umbrella of the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development is the career switcher program, the executive development center, the English-language center, and project management.

"We are going to be in the business of offering non-credit customized credit, as well as for-credit - whatever is needed for someone to pursue their professional development," Shaeffer said.

After working at five different universities across the country, Shaeffer relocated to Norfolk from James Madison University because he was attracted by the opportunity to build something that could act as a pivotal link to the community at large.

"I see our responsibility to provide access to education, and that extends beyond the traditional classroom. Education equals advancement, and that helps all of us," Shaeffer said.

The new college is self-supporting, so will need to create relevant, innovative programming in order to flourish, Shaeffer said. Applying an entrepreneur's mindset to the College is in line with what post-secondary education should be considering nationwide, Shaeffer said.

"We've done a really good job in higher education providing students what they need to access colleges and universities. The question is, how do we provide that value for students seeking to improve their credentials, but make it less expensive," he said.

Leaving a certification program with an additional credential can help an employee advance in their chosen field. And Shaeffer said ideally, that learning experience will be catered to students' needs. The College of Continuing Education and Professional Development is headquartered at the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center, but classes are held on the Norfolk campus, online, and on-site at businesses and organizations around the region.

Old Dominion University would like the college to become a key point of entry for businesses, industry, manufacturers, military, non-profits and governmental agencies - providing workforce training to employees, and a pool of well-trained workers to fill skilled trade jobs.

As a new college, there will likely be an evolutionary process for the first few quarters, Shaeffer said.

"Whatever has been working well will continue to work. We're going to cut costs in terms of how we do business, but also look for places to strategically invest," he said.

ODU's Board of Visitors approved the creation of the college late last year and the university's administration immediately launched a nationwide search for a dean. As founding dean, Shaeffer, who started at ODU on July 25, is overseeing the formal launch of a college envisioned as Hampton Roads' primary source for advanced workforce development.

For information about the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development, see: www.Odu.edu/continueyoureducation.

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