Tak­ing it Statewide

Area col­leges ex­pand their geo­graphic reach

Milwaukee Magazine - - Culture - BY B.L. HO­GAN

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.

Con­cor­dia Univer­sity

Mount Mary Univer­sity

Car­di­nal Stritch Univer­sity

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