Taking it Statewide
Area colleges expand their geographic reach
When you talk to Rochelle Regenauer about the regional education centers that Concordia University Wisconsin maintains around the state, you hear the words “flexible” and “flexibility” a lot.
Regenauer is executive director of centers and accelerated programs at Concordia, and as such she deals with a much different student population than the young resident students on the university’s main Mequon campus.
Concordia has nine centers around the state and another in St. Louis, offering both undergraduate and graduate classes to students who would have trouble commuting to Mequon. At these centers, says Regenauer, students are generally in their 30s, much older than the students right out of high school who can be found at the main campus.
“Most of them already have a career, a family and a mortgage, all the obligations that come with life,” she says. These students, she adds, are the ones that “don’t necessarily go to football games... the ones that are coming back and saying, ‘You know, I need to do something different, I need to add something on,’ or ‘I need to fine-tune my skills in this area.’”
Higher education has evolved drastically in recent decades, and Concordia’s centers – and the accelerated adult education classes that are offered there – are a response to that evolution. And the evolution, in turn, is a response to the sharp changes in the American workplace. “Years ago,” Regenauer points out, “it was a normal thing to finish school, get a job and stay there until retirement,” but now it’s more common to have two or three careers by the end of your working life.
Hence the number of students eager to improve their skills and knowledge to prepare for career or job changes – or even for technological changes in the jobs they already have.
Concordia has designed its program to be flexible for these students. The accelerated learning program is organized around weekly four-hour classes, with an online component, that last for just six weeks for undergraduate courses – or eight weeks for many graduate courses. Thus, people with families and jobs can dedicate just one night a week to their classes and tend to business on other days. And Regenauer points out that undergraduates can put together eight six-week courses in a year, moving them
along rapidly toward their goals.
The centers – part of an institution with an overall, all-campus enrollment of over 7,700 – are convenient for students living around the state. Concordia operates courses at two centers in Milwaukee (Miller Park Way and Midtown), plus individual centers in Mequon, Madison, Appleton, Beloit, Green Bay, Kenosha and Waukesha.
The St. Louis center, Regenauer says, is located there because a strategic need was identified to support the educational requirements of that community, and because of Concordia’s relationship with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, headquartered there.
Also, Concordia is liberal in accepting credits from other higher learning institutions – and awarding credit for knowledge gained in the workplace prior to Concordia. There’s a procedure for qualifying this experience for credits, Regenauer says, but “if the individual has the knowledge and takes the time to do the work to prove they have the knowledge, it’s a nice way for them to [have] significantly less expense to earn a degree.”
Numerous degrees are available through the centers, including accounting, bachelor of nursing, business man-
Concordia has nine centers around the state and another in St. Louis, offering both undergraduate and graduate classes to students who would have trouble commuting to Mequon.
agement, criminal-justice management and health care management. Master’s degrees are available, too, in fields such as business administration (MBA) and organizational leadership in administration (OLA), as well as education and educational leadership and counseling. Not every center offers every degree. Still, students can expand their options by turning to Concordia’s online-learning programs, where they can take more courses.
This is where flexibility especially comes in. Regenauer gives the example of a student who might take courses for one six-week period at one of the centers, but then want to be home to have a baby or take care of a newborn. Such a student could spend that second six-week period taking online classes at home, and then return later. Or a working student might undergo a job transfer to another state, or relocate because of a spouse’s transfer. This sort of student would be able to continue online until they had the degree.
This kind of flexibility is popular with members of the military who are students at Concordia, Regenauer says. “They might not know if or when they’ll get deployed,” she says. “So if they’re [learning] face to face ... and suddenly they get deployed, they can either take a break, or they can take online classes from overseas if need be. They’re able to continue on without worrying about the transfer policies” of other schools.
Bottom line: “When it comes to the centers or our online education, and the personal attention you get, that’s what we’re proud of,” says Regenauer. “Focused on each student’s education success, we want everybody’s experience to be a good one.”
Concordia is not the only institution of higher learning that has a presence beyond its home campus. Cardinal Stritch University has multiple locations in Wisconsin – in Madison, Brookfield and at its main campus in Glendale/Fox Point. As of 2016, 3,100 students were enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs offered in Madison and Brookfield, as well as online. Online is a key means of delivering education at Stritch as well as at Concordia.
Stritch boasts a “mission-focused
approach” that helps students of all ages find success in the classroom and in their careers. “The modern university must be responsive to the needs of all its students, extending classroom hours and expanding its offerings to locations convenient to the student’s workplace and residence, including the ultimate convenience, classes at home through on-demand, online programming,” said Dr. David L. Shrock, Stritch’s acting president.
Stritch touts its service to the state. With more than 70 percent of graduates choosing to reside in Wisconsin after graduation, Stritch alumni are leading nonprofits, schools, small businesses, health care organizations, corporations, entrepreneurial ventures, and more.
At Mount Mary University, meanwhile, the emphasis is on fostering creativity for the young women who attend this leafy campus on Milwaukee’s far West Side. Mount Mary’s website has a special section on campus life, that gives, among other things, “10 ways to make a difference on campus.” They include joining clubs and musical ensembles, running for student government and volunteering for community service projects. As for the latter projects, the school takes pride in extending its influence beyond campus, giving students service-learning opportunities, letting them get to know and volunteer at such local institutions as Growing Power, House of Peace and the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
Cardinal Stritch University has multiple locations in Wisconsin – in Madison, Brookfield and at its main campus in Glendale/Fox Point.
Mount Mary University
Cardinal Stritch University