Category Archives: Academic Leadership

Harnessing Boomer Talent by Dean Cathy Sandeen

Back in 2008, I conducted some research about needs and preferences of continuing professional education students, segmented by generation.  At the time, one result in particular stood out for me: a surprising percentage of respondents from the baby boomer segment indicated they were interested in a “post-retirement career.”

This makes sense. Baby boomers likely will live way past traditional retirement age. Most find great meaning in work and may not want to give that up completely. Some may want to move in a different direction with a new career involving more creativity, a lifelong passion, or with greater positive social impact.

Since 2008, many members of the boomer generation found their retirement portfolios greatly diminished and/or they were laid off from their jobs in declining industries.  This group will continue to work out of economic necessity. See this interesting blog post by Kerry Hannon on why one should consider working until the age of 70.

From the employer side, there would be a tremendous workforce shortage and knowledge capture crisis if all 76 million baby boomers retired “on schedule.” It makes sense for employers to figure out how to harness all available talent. This may require envisioning flexible, part-time, seasonal, or contract employment options.

That brings me to Empowered UCLA Extension, the program featured in the video above. This program was developed specifically to serve the needs of baby boomers with an academically robust, quick, and effective way to gain relevant skills in areas experiencing employment growth. We partnered with a Silicon Valley start-up, headed by entrepreneur, Steve Poizner. This venture allows us to leverage UCLA Extension’s proven professional certificate programs by offering them to a national audience through online delivery of a complete package incluidng career assessment, educational programs, and career search support. And one more thing: We will be the first to offer these services via an iPad app, custom designed by Empowered.

Initial certificates include:

  • College Counseling
  • Financial Planning
  • Global Sustainability
  • Healthcare Management
  • Human Resources
  • IT Management
  • Marketing and New Media
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Project Management
  • And more to follow in the future.



The Other 40% by Dean Cathy Sandeen

I have written many posts about the importance of a four-year degree, the economic value of education, and the need for liberal arts skills. I also have written about President Obama’s completion agenda to increase US educational attainment at the secondary and postsecondary levels. I remain steadfast in my support of and advocacy for all these ideas.

I also wrote about “Industrial Darwinism,” an observation that employment in growing industries tend to require higher level thinking. Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce predicts that by 2018 over 60% of US jobs will require postsecondary education, particularly a college education.

However, a question continues to trouble me: What about the other 40% of jobs? And, what about the individuals in those 40% of US jobs that do not require a college degree?


Manpower Group conducts an annual survey of the 10 hardest jobs to fill in the US. This year the list included: Skilled Trades (e.g. welding and construction), Drivers, Mechanics, and Machinist/Machine Operators. Those same jobs appeared regularly in previous years as well. Yes, that’s right. There are well paying jobs out there that do not necessarily require a college degree.

To further reinforce this dynamic, check out this great visualization by GE of US Job Trends from 1960 to 2011. Note as we move from 1960 closer to 2011, manufacturing jobs decrease dramatically (no surprise) and other sectors emerge, grow or contract. But the “Trades, Transportation, and Utilities” sector increases to become the largest, encompassing 25 million workers in 2011.

Such jobs are important to our economy and I submit that they have not remained static, but like everything else, have morphed and changed over time. The majority of jobs in the 40% require high level technical skills and higher level thinking—skills not taught in high school or not easily learned on the job.

It’s difficult to think of one job that has not become more technical and complex.

  • Manufacturing uses robotics.
  • Delivery truck drivers use tracking devices. 
  • Auto repair involves complex computer systems.
  • Custodial work requires handling and disposal of hazardous materials.
  • Childcare workers require knowledge of human growth and development.
  • Customer service and communication skills span most every job.
  • Bilingual abilities are required in most regions.
  • Let’s not forget the skills needed to start a small business.

Because of this, I like the shift in our thinking and rhetoric toward postsecondary education in all its forms including certificates and certifications as well as four-year degrees. And this broader notion of postsecondary education encompasses a way to serve the workforce in that 40% of non-college jobs.

The bottom line is this: To remain competitive the US needs to figure out how to provide postsecondary education at some level to nearly all the US workforce, those in the 60% that will require a college degree as well as the other 40%.


Please Judge Us by Our Covers by Dean Cathy Sandeen

Energy. Connections. Whimsy. Diversity. Imagination. Warmth. Color. Light. Dreams. Surprise.

These are the words that come to mind, capturing the essence of UCLA Extension as conveyed through the expressive works of art that appear on the cover of each UCLA Extension quarterly catalog.  Here is a small sample of the complete body of work.

Image          Image          Image          Image

For over twenty years UCLA Extension has engaged true masters of graphic design to create unique designs for its catalog. I must give credit to InJu Sturgeon, retired Creative Director of UCLA Extension for her vision and tenacity in creating this program.


Here’s a video documenting the design of our current UCLA Extension catalog cover for Winter 2012.

Designed by typographic conceptualist, Andrew Byrom, this cover showcases Byrom’s St. Julian typeface, conceived from furniture forms.

Since moving to the US about a dozen years ago, Byrom, an academic book jacket designer for publishing houses such as Penguin, dreamed of joining lifetime heroes, graphic designers Louis Danziger and Deborah Sussman in creating breakout UCLA Extension covers.

“This was such a big deal for me, I wanted to push things a bit,” said Byrom, who has a deep interest in typeface design. After manipulating 15 pieces of furniture, Byrom was hoisted several feet into the air to find the perfect angle. The tables used in the cover to spell out UCLA were also on display (and used by attendees) at TEDxUCLA last year, where Byrom spoke on the typography he sees in everyday objects.

 The Liverpool, England-born faculty member at Cal State Long Beach and UCLA Extension instructor, spent more than 6 months putting together the photograph, working with furniture designer Leslie Denham to construct functional pieces of art out of simple materials.


This cover, by Augustin Garza for Winter 2007, was the cover when I first arrived at UCLA in December 2006. (I fondly call it the “Exploding Palm Tree” and a giant framed copy of the design sits on the wall just outside my office door to this day.)

Circling back to the title of this post, we all know the old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” We disagree, at least in the case of UCLA Extension. Given the quality, excitement, and dynamism of our catalog designs—and the reputations of the designers—it’s quite all right with us if you judge us by our covers.


Face Reality and Take Charge of Your Next Step by Dean Cathy Sandeen

I participated in two interesting discussions last week that underscored something I have been thinking about lately.

First, at the UCLA Extension Dean’s Advisory Board meeting, we heard a presentation by Board member Ed Leamer a faculty member at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

Professor Leamer  explained that in previous economic downturns, unemployment increased as industries reduced their workforce. But once conditions improved, displaced workers eventually were rehired into their previous industries.

The current economic downturn is quite a bit different.  Large numbers of jobs in construction and manufacturing have disappeared and they will not be coming back. Other industries have completely changed as well. Think about print journalism, printing in general, advertising, and the music industry.

My second meeting last week was part of UCLA Day with Local Government,” an advocacy day spent meeting with various elected officials and staff at Los Angeles City Hall. I met with a group of executive directors and board members from the local unemployment services/workforce system.

One senior human resources director from a large local firm mentioned he has encountered a number of people in his professional and personal life who have lost jobs and who have not faced the reality that those exact jobs will not reemerge. Almost every industry now requires higher level skills and a greater use of technology. Many unemployed individuals are sitting back and waiting for the world to adapt to them. They are not doing anything to adapt themselves for reemployment in today’s environment.

It is extremely difficult and unsettling for many people to think about going back to school when one has been out of school for 30 years or more.  This dynamic is even more apparent for those who entered the workforce directly from high school.

This brings me back to the title of this post. Facing reality and next steps.

There are many options for someone to build upon past experience and to upgrade knowledge and skills quickly. For many, I would recommend a serious look at rigorous professional certificate programs. We have seen individuals transition

  • from banking to logistics
  • from mortgage broker to starting a waste recycling company
  • from information technology professionals to the healthcare field
  • from sales and marketing people to nonprofit organizations

The key is to get help and advice

  • What transferrable skills do you have?
  • What industries project employment growth?
  • What do you care about?

Then, find a program that can help you connect all the dots and get you from A to B. You can find employment that equals or exceeds your previous position.

Naturally, UCLA Extension offers many options. The most important thing is to face reality and take that important next step.


What I learned from The Innovative University, Part 3: Relevance to professional and continuing education

My 3rd of 3 posts on The Innovative University: most continuing and professional education divisions within universities already practice many elements of the “disruptive model” of higher education described by authors Christensen and Eyring: Some of these include:

  • Full year-round operation
  • Modular programs that build upon each other
  • Online courses and degrees
  • Higher compensation and term contracts for faculty
  • Broader definition of faculty scholarship and teaching emphasis
  • Metrics related to desired outcomes (e.g. graduation rates, cost per student)
  • Increased enrollments and access
  • Reduced campus amenities
  • Lower cost

Some additional components of innovative DNA among continuing and professional education divisions include:

    • Variety of programs, including non-degree certificates
    • High access/open enrollment
    • Financial accountability and transparency due to high degree of financial self-support
    • Relevance and connection to regional workforce needs
    • Innovation in terms of program, format and business processes
    • Partnering and outsourcing expertise
    • Faculty development
    • Agility

There’s a lot that continuing and professional higher education leaders can contribute to a conversation about such “disruptive” ideas as accountability, quality, access, relevance, and affordability in higher education. I hope they are brought to the table.

Or seen another way, given that the continuing and professional education  units have integrated these practices all along, the practices may not be quite as disruptive as initially thought. Some part of higher education have been incorporating these practices all along.


What I learned from The Innovative University, Part 2: Traditional and disruptive models

Continuing my thoughts from my last post on The Innovative University, Christensen and Eyring thoroughly describe the history and development of two very different private institutions: Harvard University and Brigham Young University (BYU)-Idaho (formerly Ricks College).

According to the authors, Harvard University has hands down become the traditional model for most of higher education. BYU-Idaho has become a recognized innovator, offering a disruptive model of higher education.

First, what is “disruption”?

Based on Christensen’s research in a number of fields, disruption occurs under two major conditions: “growth in the number of would-be consumers who cannot afford the continuously enhanced offerings [in a given product segment] and thus become non-consumers. [And] the emergence of technologies that will, in the right hands, allow new competitors to serve this disenfranchised group of non-consumers” (p. 16)   Classic examples include transistors that entered the market through cheap radios and personal computers that got their start through a low-end, amateur market segment. Both technologies eventually came to dominate their respective markets.

Circling back to higher education, Christensen and Eyring proposed the following elements they believe define the traditional model of higher education(e.g. “Harvard model”) adhered to or emulated by most postsecondary institutions (p. 136):

  • Face-to-face instruction
  • Specialization/departmentalization
  • Long summer recess
  • Graduate program dominance
  • Private fundraising
  • Competitive athletics
  • General education and majors
  • Academic honors
  • Tenure and rank for faculty
  • Admission selectivity

Specialization, selectivity, and many extracurricular amenities contribute to high cost. As institutions seek to move up the higher education classification system (e.g., community colleges that begin to offer four-year degrees or regional comprehensive institutions that strive to become research universities), costs continue to increase.

In conrast, some elements of Christensen’s and Eyring’s “disruptive model” of higher education include (p. 308, 322): 

  • Full year-round operation
  • Modular majors
  • Online courses and degrees
  • Higher compensation and term contracts for faculty
  • Broader definition of faculty scholarship with teaching emphasis
  • Metrics related to desired outcomes (e.g. graduation rates, cost per student)
  • Increased enrollments and access
  • Reduced campus amenities
  • Lower cost

 These elements have been integrated at BYU-Idaho with positive results. (We should acknowledge that BYU-Idaho is owned by a large religious institution that can dictate changes to a large degree. It may be more challenging to fully implement these ideas elsewhere.)

Some of us may recognize many of these elements exist in programs offered by for-profit educational institutions. These providers serve formerly non-consumers of higher education, adults who were not able to access traditional higher education for one reason or another. Disruptive innovation in action. (With recent scrutiny and negative reports of many for-profit institutions, unfortunately many of these elements may become suspect in and of themselves.)

 I do not believe it’s an either/or formula: traditional or disruptive.

 And “one size” does not necessarily fit each and every institution. Institutional diversity is a major strength of U.S. higher education and should continue.

 The main take home message from the book: In what ways might these two lists of elements foster a robust dialogue and offer tangible actions (taken as a whole or more likely in components) that could lead to high quality, high accessibility and holding the line or decreasing cost in higher education?

More to come in a future post.


What I learned from The Innovative University, Part 1: Context

In a previous post I mentioned the book, The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and co author, Henry Eyring, an administrator at Brigham Young University-Idaho. Given the current challenges to U.S. higher education today, this thought provoking book is definitely worth reading and discussing.

This is especially true in my home state of California renowned for its Master Plan for Higher Education that for many years guaranteed a high quality, low cost college/university degree for every citizen of the state. (As a first generation college graduate who earned her BA and MA degrees at California State University campuses, I am a grateful beneficiary of the “Plan.”) Now, in 2011-12, with base tuition exceeding $12,000 per year at University of California campuses and close to $5,000 per year at California State Universities, the notion of “low cost for all” hardly applies.  Student tuition fees now exceed per student state allocations (as in true in many states in the U.S.) Affordability is an issue.

Accountability is also an issue. The number of reports, commissions, initiatives, laws, and regulations related to assessing various outcomes of higher education has proliferated in recent years. Some include the Spellings Report,The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Voluntary System of Accountability, National Survey of Student Engagement, The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), University of California’s annual accountability reports, not to mention regional accrediting bodies and other state and federal regulation.

The good news is the U.S. higher education system remains the envy of the world. In virtually any ranking of universities globally, U.S.-based institutions dominate the list.

The Times Higher Education (UK), 2010

This very brief context is the foundation of The Innovative University. The main question to me is: How can U.S. higher education maintain its unquestioned quality while also improving affordability while better measuring our outcomes and results?

To be continued . . .