On September 1, 2020, Jack Rice began his appointment as the dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Elizabethtown College. We were able to catch up with Dean Rice and discuss his vision for the program at Etown.
Welcome to Pennsylvania. Tell us a little about your background. What brings you to Elizabethtown, and what are your first impressions of the College and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies?
Thank you, glad to be here. I take great pride in characterizing myself as a career educator. Born in Scotland, raised in Canada, with a quick sojourn in Australia thrown in; I found my way to the U.S. in 2014, when I joined Loyola University Maryland. At Loyola, I became interested in online, graduate and continuing education and I’ve brought that passion with me to Etown. The College and the community have been incredibly welcoming. There are not too many colleges that can say they have been involved in adult education for 50 years. It’s a proud tradition in SCPS, and there is a true commitment to non-traditional learners.
What trends are you seeing in higher education, specifically as it relates to workforce development?
Higher Education is at a pivot point. Generational changes, accelerated by technology and shifting demographics, point to a future with fewer “traditional learners”. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for colleges. Moving forward, successful higher education providers will embed themselves into the fabric of a more diverse network including businesses, community organizations, high schools, non-profits, public libraries, accelerator programs, etc. Technology frees us from the constraints of time and space, but it does not change our focus. All schools must continue to embrace the obligation to develop human potential. So, the goal is the same, but the audience and our approach must change.
I am very excited about our partnerships with local organizations to provide targeted skill building and to customize pathways to degree completion for their employees. Every organization we work with has unique strategies and operating systems. Our challenge is to unbundle higher education to provide pathways in, rather than barriers to learning.
We’ve heard a lot about Etown EDGE. Can you describe this new platform and how you see it impacting the community?
EDGE is the name of our micro-credential platform. Learners today want short, on-demand content, and employers understand that organizational learning must be targeted and direct. On EDGE, a learner can hop on in the evening and be learning in 5 minutes. The feedback is immediate and embedded. HR Directors and Learning and Development professionals are enamored with EDGE because they are not signing up for expensive subscriptions and weeding through content that may be irrelevant to their needs. We partner with organizations to provide solutions that can be deployed quickly and at scale.
Additionally, our degree students are enjoying EDGE as a way for them to augment their coursework and expand the number of credentials they can add to their resumes. There are options on EDGE for credits, as well as non-credit certificates.
EDGE is very new, but we feel it moves us in the direction we want to head, which is to be learner-centered and on-demand. This emerging generation of learners moves more quickly than ever before. We want to provide them with tools that enable their success. Our equation at SCPS is: Access plus Community equals Empowerment.
To learn more about the new micro-credential program (EDGE) and the degree options at Elizabethtown College’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies please visit SCPS at Etown.