Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter

Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Even Before Pandemic - UNLV NewsCenter Posted: 05 Oct 2020 12:00 AM PDT Even before the coronavirus pandemic propelled UNLV into remote learning in the spring, online courses at UNLV were prevalent.  "There's been a steady decrease in the number of students that have never taken an online course," said Elizabeth Barrie, the director of the Office of Online Education . She recently presented during The State of Online Education webinar event. It highlighted some of the initiatives and cross-campus partnerships that contribute to student achievement and shared how faculty prepared for online learning through the summer. She noted that 95% of students who graduated in spring 2020 with an undergraduate degree had taken at least one online course. And, compared to past years, there has been an increase in the number of students who have taken more than 30 credits, or two semesters, online. 

SUNY Oswego again recognized as top public online Master of Business Administration - NNY360

SUNY Oswego again recognized as top public online Master of Business Administration - NNY360

SUNY Oswego again recognized as top public online Master of Business Administration - NNY360

Posted: 16 Feb 2021 04:00 AM PST

OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego's online Master of Business Administration continued as the highest-ranked public school offering in New York state and among the nation's top online master of business administration programs in U.S. News & World Report's 2021 "Best Online Degree Programs: MBA" released Jan. 26.

Oswego was one of four schools in New York state in the top 100 (ranking #62 overall), and the only public college program in the state on that level.

"This ranking reflects many dimensions of our faculty excellence that include their student-centric approach, flexibility, globally recognized leadership and expertise in their area of teaching," School of Business Dean Prabakar Kothandaraman said. "Their continued pursuit of cutting-edge content and state-of-the-art pedagogy have always come in for praise by our MBA program alumni, and that is what is reflected in this ranking."

"Our MBA program success is grounded in the outstanding faculty in our program, the specialized student support we provide to MBA students and the collaborative effort between many departments on campus to serve our faculty and students," said Irene Scruton, director of MBA programs and assistant dean of the School of Business.

Understanding the specific needs of working professionals furthering their careers through the online MBA is a significant strength, Scruton said, as Oswego's program has higher retention rates than average for national online programs.

"The majority of our MBA online students are working professionals with significant career and personal responsibilities," Scruton noted. "Our MBA program is experienced with that perspective and our team and faculty are able to offer customized student support for their program success."

This has meant adapting to any number of factors, including the way the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the professional and personal lives of those students.

"Our student-centered approach was displayed this past year during the pandemic as our faculty and our team worked with students individually, especially those in the healthcare industry, to address their needs so that they could continue and complete the program," Scruton said.

The School of Business also boasts an AACSB accreditation that reflects a rigorous and industry-relevant curriculum with a strong alumni network for students, she added.

Team effort

Since most of Oswego's online MBA students will never visit campus, a team effort to deliver services is another key ingredient, Scurton explained.

"We collaborate with campus departments such as Extended Learning, Graduate Studies, EXCEL, Career Services, Student Accounts and the Registrar, who all are also committed to providing that personal connection to our campus for our online students so that they can succeed," Scruton said.

Ongoing recognition "is really a reflection of our institution's commitment to creating worthwhile learning experiences that prepare our graduates to be leaders in their industry," said Kristen Eichhorn, SUNY Oswego dean of graduate studies.

"The strong reputation of our online MBA continues to grow," Eichhorn noted. "Students in our MBA program feel the deep commitment from our faculty to personalize the graduate experience and appreciate the opportunities to connect with alumni and industry professionals. It is rewarding that our intentional efforts to keep the MBA experience relevant and current is being recognized."

An impressive ranking effectively answers questions applicants might have about whether schools understand needs of students from various backgrounds, including working full-time; the quality of teaching and advising; and how students, alumni and the industry feel about their programs, Kothandaraman said.

"Through its strong showing in the rankings, the School of Business has positioned itself exceptionally well for our potential students who are looking for a high-quality business school to pursue their MBA," Kothandaraman said.

"Our online MBA program ranking affirms our high degree of commitment to have the same faculty members who teach on-campus programs also teach online, the passion with which our Graduate Studies division and concierge advising professionals help to ensure the success of every student and the tremendous emphasis our alumni place on the low-cost, high-value proposition offered by SUNY Oswego's MBA programs," he added.

When U.S. News listed the top part-time MBA programs in spring 2020, Oswego was also among those listed.

Other recent honors include Oswego making the Princeton Review's Top 50 Online Programs for 2021 (-33, also the highest of any New York state public college) and making the ranking service's Best Business Schools for 2021: On-Campus MBA Programs. The Oswego MBA also ranked -30 overall and top in the state on business school website Poets and Quants' most recent top online MBA rankings.

About Oswego's MBA

Oswego — the first comprehensive college in the SUNY system to offer an MBA degree, starting in 1997 — has increased the options students have for specializing within their graduate business studies, offering MBA programs in health services administration, management and public accounting. The college also offers a variety of graduate programs and five-year options that combine an MBA with such bachelor's degrees as in broadcasting, public accounting or psychology.

MBA delivery options include classroom-based in Oswego and/or at SUNY Oswego's Syracuse campus or blended classroom-online programs, as well as the online MBA.

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Westchester Businesses Take a New Approach to Continuing Education - Westchester Magazine

Posted: 06 Feb 2021 12:00 AM PST

Adobe Stock

In the COVID-19 era, continuing education plays a larger role than ever for companies trying to adapt quickly and come up with new ways of doing business.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in continuing-education programs in Westchester has risen significantly as local colleges and universities grapple with the new workforce needs of the county's institutions and employers. Many unemployed and underemployed workers are eager to get the new skills, certifications, and degrees that will help get them back into the local economy.

"Continuing education will evolve to meet the needs of people who will need to change careers," says Dr. Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester. "Many of these employees, in areas like hospitality, will have to find new careers — there is no doubt about it. People will have to find new areas of opportunity." Local colleges and universities are poised to "develop programs so that people can learn new skills fairly quickly," and they are doing just that, she adds.

At Manhattanville College, student demand is high for professional certifications in areas like project management and cybersecurity. Overall graduate program enrollment has also grown during the pandemic. Photo by Sirin Samman

When the pandemic slammed into the county early last year, the Workforce Development Committee of the Westchester County Association (WCA) worked closely with local hospitals, colleges, and universities to identify critical positions that needed to be filled and get more front-line healthcare workers, as well as students and recent graduates, into those jobs.

Now, Jason Chapin, director of workforce development at the White Plains-based WCA, is working with the committee to prepare and train people for jobs as the economy looks to open up again. People who are hunting for jobs "should be getting the certificates and degrees that employers require now," he says. "We want people to be ready now, not when the first wave of hiring occurs."

Westchester boasts 15 colleges and universities, with a total of about 70,000 students, Chapin says, adding, "That's a huge talent pool." With about 29,000 students, Valhalla-based Westchester Community College (WCC) is what he calls the "biggest player in town."

"One-third to 40 percent" of these college students in the county are first-generation immigrants, he says, noting, "that's a huge part of our talent pool."

But a lot of people who are seeking training for new jobs "are struggling with support issues, such as childcare, housing, and transportation," Chapin adds, so he and the committee are working with such groups as Nonprofit Westchester, the Child Care Council of Westchester, United Way, and the Housing Action Council to help meet those needs.

Healthcare is the largest sector in our region, but it's not just nursing and other patient-care jobs that people should be thinking about. Non-medical jobs within the healthcare sector will also be in demand, including those in information technology, food service, security, analytics, sustainability, and human resources, adds Chapin.

Photo courtesy of BCW

"Continuing education will evolve to meet the needs of people who will need to change careers. Many of these employees, in areas like hospitality, will have to find new careers — there is no doubt about it."
— Dr. Marsha Gordon President & CEO, Business Council of Westchester

For healthcare companies involved in patient care, "they're just trying to do the basics that are really important — they are so overwhelmed," says Kerry Flynn Barrett, a human resources consultant and former vice president of human resources at Northern Westchester Hospital, in Mount Kisco. "It's all about infection control, infection control, infection control."

A lot of that training and educational work is done internally, Barrett says. "[Healthcare institutions] have fully approved policies and procedures that are very specific," she explains.

Hospitals are also moving employees around internally, to keep them on payroll and on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, she says, citing the example of an administrative assistant for a newly idle elective-surgery physician who may now be working at a nursing station to help handle the barrage of phone calls from anxious families of COVID-19 patients.

Barrett also has clients who are in areas related to healthcare, such as insurance. These companies want to know "how they can provide continuing education to help employees do their best work while working remotely. That type of training and education is really important to them," she explains. This may involve training on how to maintain appropriate work habits while working remotely, including Zoom etiquette, she says. (No, it's not okay to take a Zoom call in bed in your boxer shorts.)

Photo by Sirin Samman

"[Employees who have been laid off or who did not finish college] are not necessarily going back for a four-year degree. They may be thinking: What can I do in three months, in six months? Updating their technical skills, short- and long-term, seems to be a high priority for students now."
— Dr. Laura Persky, Associate Dean, School of Professional Studies, Manhattanville College

"We're seeing a need for professional certifications within a degree," says Dr. Laura Persky, associate dean of Manhattanville College, in Harrison, and head of its School of Professional Studies. For example, students may want to get certified as being fluent in the project-management framework known as Agile, or they may want to earn certification in a cybersecurity program.

"[Employees who have been laid off or who did not finish college] are not necessarily going back for a four-year degree," she says. "They may be thinking: What can I do in three months, in six months? Updating their technical skills, short- and long-term, seems to be a high priority for students now."

Photo by Sirin Samman

As for what specific skills are in currently demand, Persky says companies are looking for workers who have "the ability to be tech-savvy, to adapt," as well as proficiency in "change-management and innovation."

Although short-term education may be the priority, Manhattanville's overall graduate program enrollment has also grown. "We were all pleasantly surprised that graduate enrollment was up in the fall," Persky says. "People have been willing to continue or even start new with online classes." Classes are mostly synchronous, which means live, online in real time, she says. "People are interacting with each other; it's as close to an actual classroom as possible."

At Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, "we saw applications slow to a crawl for a couple of weeks," when the pandemic first hit full-on, in March, says Adam Castro, vice president of admissions. It began to bounce back in April, "and now we have a really successful freshman class, and our new student graduate program enrollment is significantly larger."

Photo courtesy of Pace University

"There is an increased demand for certifications in industry-specific skills, such as construction management, graphic and web design, and paralegal studies."
— Susan Donahue, Executive Director, Talent Development and Continuing Education, Pace University

In the fall of 2018, Mercy had 906 freshmen and 989 in the fall of 2019, followed by a spike to 1,021 for fall 2020. On the graduate level, the numbers are 622 for 2018, 710 for 2019, and 786 for last year.

"We were pleasantly surprised," Castro says. "We were worried that the COVID-19-influenced application slowdown would persist even longer and lead to lower enrollment."

Similarly, New Rochelle's Iona College saw a 15% spike in year-over-year new student enrollment in the fall of 2020, says Diana Costello, director of communications. Iona has also launched a new Bachelor of Science degree program in nursing to help meet the growing demand for registered nurses.

Local firms have reached out to Pace University to collaborate on professional-development curriculums for employees. Photo courtesy of Pace University

At Mercy, adult learners have been most affected by COVID-19, "perhaps because of work and family challenges related to the pandemic," Castro notes, adding that it's also interesting to see how the pandemic, as well as social justice issues, like the Black Lives Matter movement, has affected the classes students are choosing. "On the grad side," he says, "we doubled enrollment in mental health counseling. That says a lot about the pandemic and what people are seeing and experiencing in quarantine."

Similarly, the number of Mercy graduate students seeking psychology coursework has tripled, he says. There has also been a notable new interest in the fields of school counseling, marriage-and-family counseling, and human resource management. Among undergrads, "interest in criminal justice, psychology, and business entrepreneurship really grew," says Castro.

Another field of study having a potential resurgence is real estate. Andrea Marais, associate dean of strategic marketing and enrollment at Fordham's School of Professional and Continuing Studies, notes, "Our applications for our graduate programs in real estate have significantly increased. We have seen a 46% increase in applications for the spring semester, which is not surprising, as this often happens in a down market. People decide to use their time to expand their skillsets and increase their marketability."

Photo courtesy of Pace University

Marais also notes an increase in applications for the school's post-baccalaureate pre-med and pre-health programs. "The big unknown is whether their applications will turn into actual students," she says. So many factors are at play — the economy, the physical health of the country, the unemployment rate. But education is always a good investment, and we think that 2021 will be a good year for graduate and adult education."

Westchester Community College, which is part of the State University of New York system, "is always monitoring and analyzing labor-market data to ensure alignment with workforce needs," says Teresita Wisell, vice president for workforce development. Like community colleges nationwide, WCC has seen a dip in enrollment in the wake of COVID-19. "But we're seeing more adult students," who are defined as ages 25 to 64, Wisell says. In fact, the proportion of adult students shot up 28% in the fall of 2020 compared with the previous fall.

"We have pivoted to fully remote, short-term, workforce-training programming, which reaches a broader audience of learners," she says.

Photo courtesy of Mercy College

"On the grad side, we doubled enrollment in mental health counseling. That says a lot about the pandemic and what people are seeing and experiencing in quarantine."
—Adam Castro Vice President of Admissions, Mercy College

Students are particularly interested in degree programs that can lead to in-demand jobs, Wisell adds. After she lost her job at Lord & Taylor in Eastchester in March, for example, Iliana Camilo was able to secure a state Department of Labor scholarship that allowed her to enroll in the Clinical Medical Assistant program at WCC. "I got a full scholarship," says Camilo, 33, who lives in Yonkers. "I will graduate in May and then be eligible to take the state exam."

Other in-demand programs include cybersecurity, health-information technology, X-ray technology, and respiratory care. There is also growing interest in short-term certification programs in healthcare and IT, including "Python, Data Science, CompTIA, and data visualization, as well as programs in short-term skills training in Microsoft Office," explains Wisell.

Mercy College saw a spike in enrollment for its now incoming freshman class, and graduate student numbers are also up. Photo courtesy of Mercy College

WCC is also seeing a rise in interest in entrepreneurship, Wisell notes. Attendance at the college's annual Grow Your Business Conference for entrepreneurs, in November, was up more than 50%, and the event was expanded from one day to three. Additionally, the college is reaching out to form partnerships with local businesses. For example, WCC has a new certification program in medical coding and billing that it runs in partnership with Westchester Medical Center.

At Pace University's Talent Development and Continuing Education department, "there is an increased demand for certifications in industry-specific skills, such as construction management, graphic and web design, and paralegal studies," says Susan Donahue, executive director, talent development and continuing education. In addition, corporate partners have reached out to Pace for "dedicated professional development curriculums on building fundamental business skills for their employees, such as negotiation skills, financial analysis, and contract management."

Photo courtesy of WCC

"We have pivoted to fully remote, short-term, workforce-training programming, which reaches a broader audience of learners."
—Teresita Wisell, Vice President for Workforce Development, Westchester Community College

"A lot of local government agencies and corporations and hospitals are good about sending employees for continuing education," says the BCW's Gordon. "Here, at the BCW, for online conferences and other professional development, we are very open to employees doing that from home."

In many fields, ongoing continuing education is a given. Twice a year, Grant Schneider, a management consultant and president of Armonk-based Performance Development Strategies, LLC, teaches a human resources course at Fordham University in the Bronx that helps HR professionals prepare to take an exam for certification from the Society for Human Resources Management. It is nearly always paid for by their companies, he says.

Accounting firm Marks Paneth transformed its in-person continuing-ed program (above) into a virtual one during the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Marks Paneth, LLP

In the field of accounting, "you're required to take a certain amount of continuing ed," says Christopher Cacace, partner-in-charge of accounting firm Marks Paneth LLP's Westchester office, in Purchase. "Most of that is done in-house, and all of it is now done remotely. We have a training room at our office in the city, and we now have the ability to broadcast it to all of our offices."

"For us as a tech-and-IT service provider, it's always important to keep our tech staff continuously educated," adds Robert Cioffi, COO and cofounder of Yonkers-based Progressive Computing, which has about 30 employees who provide outsourced information-technology services for small and midsize organizations. "Even pre-COVID, we believed in continuous education for all."

Photo courtesy of Marks Paneth LLP

"[In the field of accounting,] you're required to take a certain amount of continuing ed. Most of that is done in-house, and all of it is now done remotely. We have a training room at our office in the city, and we now have the ability to broadcast it to all of our offices."
—Christopher Cacace Partner-in-Charge, Westchester Office, Marks Paneth LLP

Once the pandemic hit, Cioffi adds, "We said that we may have more time on our hands, so let's strengthen our muscles so that when business does return, we'll be ready for it."

That mindset seems to be the prevailing one when it comes to continuing education in Westchester today.

WPI Provost and Senior Vice President, Winston Oluwole Soboyejo, to be inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows - WPI News

Posted: 16 Feb 2021 06:55 AM PST

Citing important contributions to the development of multifunctional biomaterials and in broadening participation of minorities and women in STEM, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the election of Winston Soboyejo, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Provost and Senior Vice President to its College of Fellows. Soboyejo was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows, which comprises the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country.

AIMBE's mission is to recognize excellence in, and advocate for, the fields of medical and biological engineering in order to advance society. The College of Fellows represent professionals who are regularly acknowledged for their contributions in teaching, research, and innovation and have successfully advocated for public policies that have enabled researchers and business-makers to further the interests of engineers, teachers, scientists, clinical practitioners, and ultimately, patients.

"I am extremely honored to be recognized by the AIMBE and to join such an accomplished group who are truly breaking new ground in the fields of medicine and biological innovations," said Soboyejo. "Our continued commitment to research and education across the globe will have a lasting impact in addressing the challenges we face today and in the future."

Soboyejo's medical and biological research focuses on biomaterials and the use of nanoparticles for the detection and treatment of disease. Recent projects include the use of nanomaterials for targeting and treating cancer and a shear assay technique for the measurement of the mechanical properties of biological cells. His work in identifying drugs that reduced the sizes of hard-to-treat breast cancer tumors in mice without inducing the toxic side effects that are typically associated with conventional chemotherapy was published in Scientific Reports in May 2020.

Soboyejo has also made impressive contributions in building global research and educational partnerships. Under his guidance, WPI works collaboratively with stakeholders from 20 African countries and over 150 development partners from around the world to explore global best practices and develop strategies to improve STEM opportunities for students though the MS4SSA initiative. He has also helped implement an online learning institute with the goal of assisting African universities in restarting classes guided by WPI's online delivery techniques. During the summer of 2020, 16 WPI faculty and staff trained over 3,500 participants from 109 universities across Africa. Soboyejo has also partnered with the Pan African Materials Institute (PAMI) and the African-led Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Technology (PASET) to bring outstanding PhD scholars from Africa to WPI to further their research efforts.

Soboyejo is the author or co-author of four textbooks and nearly 400 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He has had over 180 presentations published in conference proceedings and has edited 20 conference proceedings and journal special issues.

The election to the College of Fellows of AIMBE follows Soboyejo's honor of being named a member of National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  He is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Materials Society of Nigeria, the Nigerian Academy of Science, and the African Academy of Science.

A formal induction ceremony to the AIMBE College of Fellows will be held during the Institute's Annual Event on March 26. Soboyejo will be inducted along with 174 colleagues who make up the AIMBE Fellows Class of 2021. For more information about the AIMBE Annual Event, please visit www.aimbe.org.


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