Offering the same breadth and depth of programs and services, Wittenberg’s School of Community Education is excited to be operating as the School of Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS).
Since it was first established decades ago, the School of Community Education provided a bridge between the university and the local Springfield community, serving as the entry point for adult learners to return to Wittenberg and begin or complete their degrees. It housed several community-oriented programs such as music lessons, summer camps, and professional workshop and certification opportunities.
“In transitioning from the School of Community Education to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS), in no way did the school lessen its commitment to the community,” said Michelle Van Dyke, who currently serves as the director of GPS and has been a part of SCE/GPS since November 2015. “We still promote new and ongoing community initiatives such as the Center for Musical Development and opportunities for lifelong learning. However, with the new name, we hope to better emphasize Wittenberg’s growing commitment to fostering professional education and development in our community.”
Van Dyke explained that the first part of the new name, “graduate,” speaks to Wittenberg’s commitment to become a leader in graduate education. Although the master of arts in education program has been a staple at the university, Wittenberg has only recently started branching out and building new graduate programs, including the master of science in analytics program, which began in August 2016, and the master of arts in athletic coaching program that started in August 2017.
“As graduate programs begin to grow across campus, GPS will serve as home to the overall general administration of graduate programs – housing, marketing, admission, and policy initiatives for all current and new graduate programs,” Van Dyke said. “The second part of our name, 'professional,' affirms our commitment to renewing and improving Wittenberg’s approach to welcoming and engaging adult students as they pursue undergraduate degree completion and lifelong learning opportunities.”
The growing prevalence of community colleges and online learning options also played a role in the school evaluating its programs to ensure that they are continuing to meet student needs and expectations.
“We have had to reevaluate what makes Wittenberg a distinctive educational opportunity for adult students,” she said. “We believe Wittenberg continues to offer adults in our community an exceptional education while remaining extremely affordable. We want to reenergize our image in the community and hopefully establish a stronger presence as a leader in adult education. The final part of our name, 'studies,' speaks to the educational aspect of what we do. We believe in promoting learning in all aspects of life.”
While the majority of Wittenberg’s programs are geared toward traditional undergraduate students, ages 18 to 22, GPS serves as the entryway for all educational programming for students and adults outside of the traditional student age window.
“The name changed to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies to encompass all of our students taking classes,” said Kevin Steidel, program director for the master of science in analytics and assistant professor of practice. “We will continuously be looking at more summer offerings, as well as more master’s degree fields and industries with needs that we can fill. The goals are to increase enrollment, retention, and provide a revenue stream to the university. The staff in this department is working hard every single day to understand and meet the needs of our students.”
The School of Graduate and Professional Studies houses several different programs, including:
Adult Degree Completion – The GPS office manages, admits, and advises all undergraduate students over the age of 23. Some of these students are first-time college students, while others transfer from community colleges or are seeking to continue their education after military service or professional work experience.
Organizational Leadership Major (GPS students only) – Organizational Leadership is a multidisciplinary, applied-learning major designed to provide highly motivated adult students with a broad perspective on the best practices for managing complex social, cultural, and professional issues they will likely encounter in positions of leadership in today’s society.
Graduate Programs – Wittenberg offers three graduate programs: M.S. in analytics, M.A. in education, M.A. in athletic coaching.
College Credit Plus – In partnership with the State of Ohio, this program allows high-achieving students to attend Wittenberg and complete college credit while still in high school.
Center for Musical Development – CMD offers a variety of musical engagement opportunities for the Springfield community, including private lessons and group instruction for all levels of experience.
Summer @ Wittenberg – The GPS Office is responsible for building the summer schedule and promoting summer class opportunities; it also sponsors the Summer Incentive Grant for traditional students.
A full listing of programs and opportunities offered through GPS can be found on its website: www.wittenberg.edu/academics/gps.
Specific GPS graduate program videos can be found on the following webpages:
Adult Degree Completion: https://vimeo.com/239657678
MA Education: https://vimeo.com/239666153
MA Athletic Coaching: https://vimeo.com/240569223