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January 12, 2009

Lifelong learning at Shepherd

Across the country, universities are responding to increasing interest in lifelong learning by working adults. The employed adult population is changing the shape of American higher education, calling for greater convenience with scheduling courses, greater diversity of delivery of instruction, and more applicability to the needs of workers and their employers.

Shepherd University has catered to adult learners since 1975 when the Regents Bachelor of Arts (R.B.A.) program was implemented. Designed for adult learners, the R.B.A. program has produced more than 1,200 graduates. In fact, the R.B.A. is now Shepherd's most popular degree program with 103 degrees awarded (out of 642) during the 2007-08 academic year. The program's flexibility, emphasis on areas of study rather than majors, and credit for life work through portfolio evaluation are attractive features for working adults.

Shepherd continues to grow our graduate studies program, which was implemented in 2004 when Shepherd attained university status. The program currently has 48 students enrolled in five master's degrees and has awarded 84 master's degrees in its first four years. And with a new continuing education component approved by Shepherd's Board of Governors in September 2008, an array of workshops and programs is being planned and developed.

The R.B.A. and master's programs offer working adults the opportunity to retool their careers or gain the knowledge and skills to enter a new one. The current economic climate and changes in the workplace are placing a renewed emphasis on lifelong learning and professional competitiveness.

One of the things I learned during my first year at Shepherd is the significant interest among the University's stakeholders in Shepherd's graduate studies program. Planned growth of academic programs will include greater flexibility in programming for working adults. This year we will begin a series of crossroads conversations on campus around the strategic plan. These will, among other things, examine adult education and how Shepherd can better serve the community and the local economy through flexible scheduling and delivery of classes. Lifelong learning will continue to be part of the lives of busy working adults, and Shepherd hopes to play a vital role for our community.


Shepherd University | Office of the President | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000
304-876-5107 | 800-344-5231