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October 20, 1997

UC Extension keeps pace with changing times

By Mike Lassiter
UC News Office

Global demands on education are growing and diversifying, and the University of California Extension is meeting the challenge, UC Regents were told last week during their meeting at the UC Davis Medical Center.

UC officials and representatives from major corporations described how eight University Extension divisions act as a bridge connecting communities around the world with the educational opportunities afforded by a prominent research institution.

"The sheer size of UC Extension is overwhelming," said Julie Gordon, UC coordinator of intercampus academic program delivery. "You can't even get your arms around one million enrollments, so I try to break it down into individuals--the hazardous waste worker, the public official, the small businessman--who benefit from these programs. You can then begin to realize how University Extension reaches and provides opportunities for such a wide range of the population in California and beyond."

University Extension provides a spectrum of educational programs, such as the part-time master's degree in computer engineering, online programs for attorneys, and a network of professional education offered at more than 700 corporations. Total enrollment in these and more than 50,000 other UC Extension programs surpassed one million during the past three years alone.

"Our state has the nation's highest concentration of information-age, high-technology, and telecommunications industries, and they are dependent on having educated personnel," said Mary Metz, dean of University Extension at UC Berkeley. "Being well-educated is not enough and being educated once is not enough in this rapidly changing world. These companies want continuous professional development and education for their employees."

According to Metz, all the Extension divisions are trying to satisfy an increased demand for programs tailored to specific organizations as well as in-house training both for groups of employees and individuals at a growing number of companies.

Professional development courses now account for almost 60 percent of University Extension's enrollment statewide and are the most rapidly growing segment of the curriculum. More than 380 certificate programs are offered in such fields as land use and environmental planning, software engineering, and creative writing.

Some UC Extension programs are integrated with the regular course work offered at the UC campuses, such as Berkeley's Fall Program for Freshmen and UCLA's Winter Bruins, which offer courses for first-term students who have been accepted to the university.

University Extension has created a variety of different ways to offer courses, including in-house training for government and industry clients, short courses with "fast-track" instruction, and course work built around one- or two-day conferences, online instruction, and other forms of long-distance learning.

Curriculum also is offered in all parts of the world, in English and often in the native language of the country. In one example, UC Davis Extension helped central Morocco achieve water efficiency with training conducted in French.

University Extension attempts to serve the diverse population of California through such programs as UC Santa Cruz Extension's accounting courses in Mandarin and Vietnamese and UCLA Extension's Early Childhood Education Certificate Program, presented in Spanish in the Pico-Union section of Los Angeles.

Among other unique courses and programs offered by the eight University Extension divisions are:

UC's University Extension was founded in 1891 to fulfill a government requirement that land-grant universities provide extension programs to bring resources to the public. Professors at that time traveled from Berkeley by ferry boat to San Francisco where they taught the first University Extension courses, including English, history, mathematics, and philosophy.

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