Since joining the Wittenberg community last fall, Barbara Randazzo, executive director of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS), has wasted no time setting a vision for the division, which supports graduate programs, the undergraduate organizational leadership major for nontraditional students, summer school, the Center for Musical Development, and the College Credit Plus Program (CCP).
Formerly the School of Community Education, GPS has provided a bridge between the university and the local Springfield community for years, serving as the entry point for adult and nontraditional learners to return to Wittenberg and begin or complete their degrees. It also provides music lessons, professional workshops, and certification opportunities for the youth and adults.
Now after six months on the job, Randazzo takes a look at what’s up next for GPS through a special Q&A:
Question: Tell us about GPS, its mission, and goals.
Randazzo: The School of Graduate and Professional Studies has evolved over the past few years, with a name change from the School of Community Education, and an increased focus on the expansion of graduate programming and in-demand educational offerings to the community.
We deliver educational services to nontraditional students at any point in their educational journey. We serve our Wittenberg alumni with options for their graduate education, plus we have a focus on the business and non-profit community. We want to ensure we are offering the programs needed to support the success of these constituencies.
Using the expertise of the university’s faculty and other qualified professionals in continuing education, GPS expands the reach of the university with offerings that support the university’s mission to challenge students to lead personal, professional, and civic lives of creativity, service, compassion, and integrity. I have discovered that Wittenberg has always believed that a love of learning should last a lifetime, and opportunities for lifelong learning should be available to all. GPS is committed to bringing this belief to fruition.
Question: What programs are offered at GPS?
Randazzo: GPS offers three graduate programs in the Master of Science in Analytics, the Master of Arts in Coaching, and the Master of Arts in Education. We also offer the undergraduate major in organizational leadership. GPS administers the College Credit Plus Program and the Center for Musical Development.
Question: What are your personal goals for GPS?
Randazzo: In GPS, we have a fantastic staff of higher education administrators, faculty and graduate program directors who are committed to offering the most relevant and challenging master’s programs. My goal is to bring us together as a team to grow our current three fantastic programs to their fullest potential, and work has already begun along these lines. I would also like to see new programs developed. These should be programs that are needed in the market and verified by market research. We can then marry that market need with the expertise of our tremendously talented faculty here at Wittenberg. I want GPS to be a place within the university where innovative programs are launched and effectively administered for the overall benefit of students and the institution.
Question: How many students are at GPS and what are your goals for the expansion of GPS?
Randazzo: We currently have 65 nontraditional undergraduate students and 41 graduate students. We also have 36 College Credit Plus students. We are focused on the graduate population first. Our goal is to increase the population of students in our current graduate programs to 65-70 in the next two years.
Question: What do you see as market trends and jobs of the future that may need to be addressed by Wittenberg and what programs or opportunities do you see coming in the future?
Randazzo: While many of the jobs of the future do not exist yet, I believe that skills in the STEM area, data science and management, and, of course, people skills, will continue to be in demand. The health care field is exploding right now and is on track to continue that trend, as new ways of providing health care to the population are created.
At Wittenberg, we are offering an undergraduate major in data science and a graduate program in analytics, so we are well positioned for that projected market growth. The addition of the nursing program is another plus for the university. We will continue to look for opportunities for programs that fit our strengths and have a strong need in the market. Areas to explore include graduate programs in health care administration, addictions counseling, public health, accounting, business, and leadership.
Question: What skills do you feel our students need to have in their tool kit, and how are we preparing our students for the future?
Randazzo: Students in both undergraduate and graduate education should be practicing their creativity, their ability to curate knowledge from multiple fields to find solutions to complex problems, and their ability to adapt to new technologies in their field of interest. Students in any major should explore new skills in data management, coding, new software programs, and presentation skills.
Wittenberg’s liberal arts curriculum is ideal for the practicing of these skills. At the undergraduate level, students are encouraged to take classes from multiple disciplines and find their passions. They are encouraged to build their skill set for the future. Our graduate students are being introduced to the latest tools in data science and challenged to use them to make decisions and advance their organizations.