Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) played a prominent role at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Annual Conference this March. Washington, D.C. based, UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education and has served most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America for more than 100 years.
At the association’s annual signature event, Nelson C. Baker, dean of GTPE and professor of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was named UPCEA president for 2019-20.
“Nelson is an innovator and leader in our association and our field,” said UPCEA CEO Bob Hansen. “I greatly respect his vision for the changes needed in our field, and I look forward to partnering with Nelson and his board as we support all UPCEA member institutions in their service of lifelong learners.”
Baker has been an UPCEA member since 2004 and previously served on the UPCEA Board of Directors as Secretary-Treasurer. As incoming president, he looks forward to advancing the association’s mission to serve adult learners and support member institutions as they navigate change in higher education.
“In these ever-changing times, we must be agile and innovative to be able to meet the needs of our learners, institutions, and communities. As the demand for learning continues to grow along our lifetime, both in careers and society, and the number of traditional college students declines, higher education faces new challenges,” he said. “Having served these learners for decades, professional and continuing education units are on the forefront of this evolution. With significant experience and our passion for lifetime education, our units are ideally poised to take the lead in shaping the future of higher education.”
At the conference, Baker also took part in two panel discussions. The first discussion, which focused on reinventing higher education, explored some of the most promising emerging models of postsecondary education. The subject of the second panel discussion was driving growth and innovation with international mobility of learners and programs. Panelists examined how leaders in professional, continuing, and online education are innovating to serve international markets.
Patrice Miles, GTPE’s assistant dean of business operations, was honored at an award ceremony at the conference. She received the prestigious Walton S. Bittner Service Citation, which is given to express appreciation to a member for outstanding service in professional, continuing, or online education at his or her institution and service of major significance to UPCEA.
“Serving contemporary learners with innovative and impactful education is at the core of professional, continuing and online education,” said Mary Angela Baker, director, Center for Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, Salisbury University, and Chair, UPCEA Association Awards Committee. “This year’s award recipients exemplify the breadth and depth of the contributions UPCEA members bring to the field.”
Miles is Chair of the UPCEA Business and Operations Network. The mission of the group is to share best practices and emerging trends related to the business and operations as well the strategic imperatives of professional, continuing, and online units at post-secondary institutions.
In her acceptance speech, Miles said, “This is truly an honor. UPCEA constantly strives to provide opportunities and innovative ways to advance the promotion of continuing education. It’s been a wonderful experience and growth opportunity for me to work with such a powerful network of experienced people and trusted advisors.”
At GTPE, Miles works closely with the executive leadership team to align the division’s strategic business objectives for academic programs, while creating and sustaining effective processes to support superior customer service. The role aligns with her passion for lifelong learning, and the UPCEA award has a special meaning for her.
“What we are doing in higher education, and professional education more specifically, has a huge potential to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “As a first generation college graduate, I understand the power of education to transform lives. My parents, as farmers in rural Arkansas, were not able to pursue a formal education but they knew how important it was and worked hard to provide that opportunity for me. Now I have the opportunity to pay it forward for someone else and I’m honored to be able to do so.”
Chris Walker, assistant director of marketing, Mont Rogers, marketing research analyst, and Stephen Fain, marketing manager, delivered the presentation Marketing-at-Scale: Optmizing and Personalizing the Learner’s Journey in the World’s First Degrees-at-Scale. In their one-hour session, they discussed how Georgia Tech brought the Online Master of Science in Analytics and the Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity to market through the cornerstones of a rock-solid enrollment marketing plan utilizing research, personas, messaging, and a digital-first strategy emphasizing personalization.
Walker pointed out that UPCEA is a community of learners serving learners. “As members, we are encouraged to openly share work with each another, learn from our successes or failures, and help each other advance our mission,” he said. “For example, being able to shine a light on the research and marketing for our online master’s programs struck a chord with attendees wanting to understand the ‘how to’ approach behind our success, and particularly for those members trying to develop their own research and data-driven strategy to marketing.”
Bob Hansen (UPCEA), Patrice Miles, and Nelson Baker pose together after Miles received the Walton S. Bittner Service Citation. Baker was also named UPCEA president during the annual conference.
Mont Rogers, Stephen Fain, and Chris Walker delivering the Marketing-at-Scale: Optimizing and Personalizing the Learner's Journey in the World's First Degrees-at-Scale session.