University News

With new office, Continuing Ed looks to expand

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Office of Continuing Education’s new home at 200 Dyer St. will facilitate a planned expansion of its adult and professional programs and help the University increase its engagement with the community.

The building — a sleek space fitted with seminar classrooms, meeting rooms and a soundproof multimedia recording studio — is so new that it still has a “new car smell,” said Karen Sibley MAT’81 P’07 P’12, dean of continuing education. “Just a couple weeks ago, I would have to tell people not to lean on the walls because the paint was still wet.”

Continuing Education began working in the new space last month after moving out of their former smaller space in Graduate Center. The Office of Residential Life will relocate to the Grad Center space in the upcoming months.

 

Accommodating expansion

The move was motivated by a need to grow.

Continuing Education — which runs adult and professional programs including an on-site Master of Arts in Biology program for Pfizer employees, the Summer Session for undergraduates and the Summer@Brown program for pre-college students — was not able to “function strategically” in its old home, with its office spread across three floors and some employees at a separate location across the street.

Continuing Education also hopes to institute new programs in “information technology, biotechnology, communication and other multidisciplinary areas,” Sibley said.

The University is making a name for itself in the world of professional continuing education, and there is more room for growth.

In 2009, the department established a 15-month IE Brown Executive M.B.A. program set on two campuses — the Instituto Empresa’s Madrid campus and Brown’s. It was designed to leverage the liberal arts strength of Brown and the management studies strength of IE to create a unique, interdisciplinary degree.

“There’s definitely an increase in demand, so we should be doing our best to improve supply,” Sibley said.

 

Engaging the community

A location off College Hill also gives Continuing Education the ability to engage with the broader community.

“We’re forward-facing into the community,” Sibley said. “It’s really exciting to be here, to become familiar with all the health care, nonprofits, legal systems in the area.”

One program designed to serve the community is the 200 Dyer St. Speaker Series. It will feature lunchtime and evening lectures, scheduled so they are easy for working professionals to attend. The new building offers the ideal space for hosting speakers and panels, and with lecture-capture technology, these events can be uploaded to the Internet for others to view.

Depending on attendance, Continuing Education will assess if the program should be sustained or if other outreach programs should be tried, Sibley said.

The University has long been considering various options for engaging with the community, said Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president, who has been instrumental in the University’s expansion in the Jewelry District. “I think that idea is an attractive one … it’s one that a number of us have had in different forms for a while,” he said.

“We don’t know exactly how it’ll play out,” he said. “So there’ll be a lot of testing of ideas and pilot programs before we find out what works and doesn’t work.”

With Brown and Johnson and Wales University — which is considering building a new residence hall in the area — making early investments in the Jewelry District, others besides the start-up companies already there may see the neighborhood as a site for expansion, Spies said.

“I think the vision that a lot of us have is that that will grow significantly over time.”

The Jewelry District is already the site of the Alpert Medical School, the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, the Advancement Office and Computing and Information Services.