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Five Minutes with ACHE

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  • March 25, 2019 10:51 AM | Amy Johnson (Administrator)

    In my family, March Madness, is serious business. Several years ago we started a NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament tradition.  We go out to dinner the day after the selection show, taking along pens, blank brackets and varying levels of basketball knowledge.  There are only three of us but we typically take 15 blank brackets with us in case one of us makes lots of mistakes (that’s usually me). The family member who wins the bracket pool gets two highly coveted prizes; their name on the Johnson Family Bracket Trophy and the privilege of choosing the location of the selection meal the following year. 

    This year as my bracket started looking bleaker, I started thinking about alternative ways to complete a bracket that had nothing to do with a team’s basketball skill.  Because I think about adult learners often in my work, I began to wonder how these 64 schools would perform if we created a bracket based upon the percentage of adult learners these institutions serve. Who would win in the first round to advance to the thirsty thirty-two? Who would be in the final four? Would they be small private schools or large flagship institutions? Why would they be the winners? My curiosity motivated me to find the answers.  

    Here are some observations I made while competing this bracket. 

    • To make it to the final four, more than 25% of a school’s total population had to be adult learners. At Gardner-Webb and Houston, 28% of the population is 25 and over, at Liberty over half of their student population would be classified as “adult,” and at Arizona State, the overall champion, more than 64% of their students are adult learners.
    • Each of the final four teams have intentionally built structures that support adult learning. At Gardner-Webb, a small private school in Boiling Springs, NC, the institution has both the GOAL degree-completion program and a large number of online course offerings. Both adult-oriented programs are advertised on the landing page of their website, signaling to adults that they belong at Gardner-Webb.  The other teams in the final four have large online offerings.  At Houston, students can enroll in more than 1250 online courses. At Liberty, students can earn a bachelor’s degree online from 13 of its schools in areas including aviation, graphic design, and cybersecurity. US News & World report ranks Arizona State #2 in the nation for online learning.  The university website also notes that more than 90% of online learners have transferred work from other institutions. All of these schools are promoting their offerings directly to adults.
    • If we back up to the first round of “play”, it is notable that for many schools, branch campuses are important for advancement.  While serving fewer overall students than the main campus, the outreach function of the branch campus often makes for higher percentages of adult learners at locations removed from the main campus. The branch campus is often also less intimidating and easier to navigate than the main campus as well. 
    • While LSU loses in the second round to Maryland in this year’s adult learner race, look for them to advance further next year. Setting a goal of 30,000 online students by 2025, LSU is looking to make a name for itself in the online learning space. I expect them to advance much further in future “tournaments.”
    • At 37 of the 64 colleges and universities in this year’s tournament, adults make up less than 10% of the entire student population.

    Wondering how your school fared in the adult learner bracket, you can see the full results below.


    I'll spend a lot of the next few weeks cheering on student-athletes. Because of this exercise, I'll also be cheering on those schools who are making the best efforts to serve adult learners.  I hope you will be cheering for those schools too.  


    Amy Johnson
    President-Elect, ACHE

  • January 18, 2019 10:46 AM | Amy Johnson (Administrator)

    As we wrapped up 2018 and to reiterate a few items, we have many exciting events coming up this year from our regional conferences this spring, to continued and new partnerships and other initiatives, to our Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado from Oct. 14 -16, 2019. With our Denver 2019 theme of Partnerships: Innovation & Collaboration,we have great keynotes already lined up, an exciting program in development, and volunteers to help make this another fabulous event. The Call for Proposals for ACHE Denver 2019 will be coming out soon! So be sure to be on the lookout for that, and other opportunities to get involved in the new year not only with your regions, but nationally as well. Also, in the upcoming months we will have a membership drive within all regions. Your input will be valuable for this initiative.

    We have so many individuals from various colleges and universities across the country and beyond as members and we appreciate all you bring to ACHE! Many of you are also working on various committees that make ACHE a premier organization. These committees include: Awards, Budget and Finance, Committee on Inclusiveness, Constitution and Bylaws, Nominations and Elections, Conference Planning, Regional Leadership, Research, Resolutions, Digital Programming and Communications, and the Advisory Council of Past Presidents.

    As we begin 2019, it is my honor to share with all of you that Dr. Rick Osborn, Dean at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), is our new Executive Vice President (EVP) and ETSU is our new home office! With change comes so much opportunity and we have so much to look forward to in 2019!


    Dorothy Williams, Ph.D. 


  • December 14, 2018 2:39 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Closing out 2018 and looking ahead to 2019

    As one year is closing and another year is on the horizon, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday season!  Take that time to reflect, refresh, and relax. As I share with others, life is like a busy pie – we are involved with family, whatever this may be, work in and/or out of the home, education, community work, ACHE, and so much more. So, it is important to take time to enjoy yourselves and those around you during special times.

    We have many exciting events coming up next year from our regional conferences this spring, to continued and new partnerships and other initiatives, to our Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, October 14 -16, 2019. With our Denver 2019 theme of Partnerships: Innovation & Collaboration, we have great keynotes already lined up, an exciting program in development, and volunteers to help make this another fabulous event. As Ms. Tina Marie Coolidge shared in her recent Five Minutes article, the Call for Proposals will be coming out in early spring. So, be on the lookout for that, and other opportunities to get involved in the new year not only with your regions, but nationally as well. We will continue the Emerging Leaders Institute again this year with a twist --- and we will be having this event in Denver as well. So, stay tuned for that, an online newsletter, webinars in development, continued outreach, and more.

    And with other great news, we will be moving to a new temporary home office for ACHE effective mid-January. It is my honor to share with all of you that Dr. Rick Osborn, Dean at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), will be our new Executive Vice President (EVP) and ETSU will be our new home office. 

    While not new to ACHE and many of you have the pleasure to know Dr. Osborn, we greatly appreciate his leadership, taking on this role and having such a great institution to be our new home. Many of us have moved through our lives and with moving comes adjustments. I know we will all transition smoothly especially under the leadership of Dr. Osborn as our EVP.

    A special thank you to Dr. Belinda Biscoe, Dr. Nina Barbee, Ms. Julie Tate, and so many others at the University of Oklahoma as they served as our home office over the years. Their energy, commitment, and living the mission of ACHE will always be appreciated.

    Through my years with ACHE, I have met so many wonderful people, have grown personally and professionally, continue to have that passion for education all while understanding the importance of what we all do. With change comes opportunity.

    I look forward to this journey as your 2019 ACHE President and all we have ahead of us for 2019! 


    Happy Holidays! 

    ACHE President 2019

  • December 07, 2018 2:26 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    This is the time of year where we find ourselves wrapping up the end of our terms and planning for next term – after enjoying a winter break, of course.  It’s so very easy to get caught up in the momentum that each term brings and not pause and reflect on what we’ve experienced or plan for what great opportunities are available for us to experience in the future. 

    The conference theme for the 2018 ACHE conference was “Keeping the Beacon of Continuing Higher Education Burning Bright” and the theme for the 2019 ACHE conference is “Partnerships: Innovation & Collaboration.”   At the 2018 conference we enjoyed keynote presentations that focused on resilience/engagement and mindfulness, collaboration through times of organizational change, and a fabulous presentation that focused on data related to the students served by ACHE organizations and factors that impact online learning success.  The bridge is now being built to prepare for the 2019 conference in Denver, Colorado where the theme is partnership. 

    As an active member of ACHE, serving as Vice President, it is a busy year for me.  I will be working closely with regional leadership and supporting our President and her team as they prepare for the 2019 national conference, as well as supporting our President elect.  I am here to serve - that is the power of servant leadership! 

    Each and every one of you reading this is a member of your region, as well as the national organization. There is so much opportunity available for you to engage and be active in the organization before the next national conference. 

    • There is the opportunity to engage in your region – contact your regional leadership and see how you can get involved! 
    • There is opportunity to attend a regional conference, network, and build relationships with like-minded colleagues from your region.  For more information about each regional conference, please visit the region page.
    • There is opportunity to volunteer for the 2019 national conference.  I remember when I first got engaged with ACHE, and it began in my region, then the national conference, and now I have the honor and privilege to serve as Vice President for the organization.  To get involved with the 2019 national conference, please contact the program co-chairs: Patti Spaniola, and Amy Jordan,
    • There is an opportunity for you to submit a presentation proposal for the 2019 national conference.  Stay tuned for an email with information about the Call for proposals!

    Getting involved is an endeavor that you can commit to at a level that accommodates your availability.  I’ve had the honor to co-chair three national conferences, and with each, the bond that is created by partnering with my fellow co-chairs is priceless.  The relationships you will build by being engaged in the organization will enhance your professional network, as well as result in friendships that will last a lifetime.

    Top left: Amy Johnson, President Elect; Dorothy Williams, President; & Tina Marie Coolidge, Vice President

    Top right: Tina Marie Coolidge & Jeni Maple, 2018 Conference Co-Chairs

    Left: Tina Marie Coolidge & Amy Johnson, 2016 Conference Co- Chairs

    Now is the time, as we bridge from the 2018 national conference to the 2019 conference, to dip your toes in the water and truly embody the themes of the 2018 and 2019 conferences: keep the beacon burning bright by being an active member, by being innovative and collaborative, by supporting the 2019 conference, and by engaging with your region over the course of the next year!

    My service to ACHE is one of the greatest personal and professional decisions I have ever made.  Through my service and leadership in the organization, I have grown and continue to grow as a professional, and each and every one of you make a positive impact on that development.  Join us, get involved, enhance your professional and leadership competencies, and be a part of ACHE and the organization’s mission to promote lifelong learning and excellence in continuing higher education.  If you ever want to talk about how to get involved, please feel free to contact me,

      Tina Marie Coolidge
      ACHE Vice President

  • November 30, 2018 10:30 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)


    Whether you have been working in higher education a few months or many years, the need for professional development is critical. Professional development means to explore, invent/reinvent, and embrace changes that will excel the work of serving adult and non-traditional students. As we grow in our roles and expand our duties, many job functions are new to us. I have found the ACHE conferences are a wonderful opportunity to network and share best practices among colleagues. The 2018 ACHE Annual Meeting and Conference confirmed my belief.

    Recently I began my duties as Director for Business Development for the College of Computer and Information Sciences at Regis University. I wanted to attend the conference to gain insight and input from my ACHE colleagues on growing strategic partnerships and talent pathways. I was not disappointed.

    Alex Read, Program Development Strategist, College of Continuing Education, Sacramento State presented, “Secrets for Creating Successful Contract Training Programs.” Alex shared his insights which helped me to refine my college’s needs assessment process and overarching strategy when working with our industry partners on education and training needs. In addition, Alex made himself available to chat with me by phone and share a recent article he co-wrote on the topic of contract training.

    This is just one example of the professional development afforded me through ACHE. It was an honor to receive the ACHE Memorial Staff Development Grant and attend the 2018 ACHE Annual Meeting and Conference. Thank you!

    Leslie Brezina

    Director of Business Development
    College of Computer and Information Sciences
    Regis University

    The ACHE Memorial Staff Development Grant

    In 2015, ACHE lost two champions of continuing higher education just prior to the Annual Conference and Meeting in St. Louis: Charlee Lanis of East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, and Don Devilbiss of Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. But Charlee and Don were not just champions of the students they served. They were also champions of supporting their staff in obtaining key professional development needed to do the important work of serving adult and non-traditional students. In honor of the spirit and character of Charlee, Don, and other ACHE champions of Continuing Education (CE) who have passed away, the ACHE Board of Directors authorized establishment of the ACHE Memorial Staff Development Grant in order to assist with funding CE unit staff to participate in professional development activities.

    Each year, ACHE will award one grant in an amount not to exceed $1500 for a CE staff member to attend an ACHE professional development event - to include the annual or a regional conference, leadership training, or other type of activity as seems appropriate to the needs of the selectee - in order to further their professional development growth and hone their skills.

    To learn more about the ACHE Memorial Staff Development Grant, please visit the Grants and Scholarships page of the ACHE website.

  • November 23, 2018 9:42 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Dear ACHE Members,

    As ACHE begins our transition from our home office at the University of Oklahoma, we had sent out information for submitting an RFP (Request for Proposal). Yet, at this time, we are putting the RFP on hold in order to further strategize the direction of ACHE and how a new home office will be able to serve these needs. 

    We appreciate your patience as we work out more details and further information will be forthcoming. 



    ACHE President 2019

  • November 16, 2018 12:19 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    The 80th Annual ACHE Conference and Meeting provided many opportunities for members and guests to engage in meaningful dialogue about the future of continuing higher education.  Dr. Kristen Lee, author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress and Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking, opened our conference with a keynote presentation.  Here are her reflections on the conference:


    Burning Bright with ACHE

    It was such an honor to start off ACHE’s 80th conference. The “Keep the Beacon Burning Bright” theme resonates so deeply with me. As educators, we have unprecedented opportunities and challenges, and being able to share lessons learned from my incredible students at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies was a true joy.

    The opening quote I shared spurred on a lot of meaningful conversation with so many of you:

    "The illiterate of the twenty-first century
    will not be those who cannot read and write,
    but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."

    - Alvin Toffler

    I was deeply moved by the stories shared about how you are working to stay nimble and provide meaningful opportunities for students to bring impact in our world. There was such a strong appetite to find ways to embody agility, mindfulness and connection within our respective contexts. It was uplifting hearing the ways the ACHE community is taking this on, and to see the power and potential of our shared vision.

    Education has the power to liberate and transform. My hope is that the time we spent as a group will continue to uplift and motivate us towards change agency and elevating the human condition. There’s so much at stake, and it is energizing to see such a steadfast commitment to keeping the beacon burning bright for all.

    Reflections from Dr. Dorothy Williams, ACHE President 

    I have had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Dr. Kris over the last year, and she is a magnificent person. Not only were we honored to have her as a keynote at our Emerging Leaders Institute in Chicago this past June, but her presence at our ACHE Conference made an impact on so many. I hope you all had the opportunity to chat with her after her keynote while she signed her books for us.

    As President of ACHE this year, I have been thinking a lot about Dr. Kris’s presentation, and she has inspired me and many others to take action. You may ask, take action how? Well, all too often in our busy lives we may tend to forget about ourselves. We all are committed to what we do in higher education, no matter our positions and we may forget the little things that keep us going. Therefore, some of my key take-aways included, as she has shared, to be resilient in our complex world, to engage, and to be mindful. As she states, “Mentalligence helps us find the thinking and behavioral agility to work towards better outcomes for all.”


  • November 09, 2018 10:29 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Autumn is a season that represents great change.  As chlorophyll deconstructs in the leaves of our trees; we see the landscape anew.  The mountains in my region alight with red, yellow and orange color. Fall is also the time when we await election results, bringing with them the possibility of great change.  And this year, with the release of the RFP for the ACHE home office, we’re on the precipice of transformation within our organization. As I’ve been reflecting upon this transition, I’ve discovered there is a lot to learn from students about what it’s like to successfully navigate change. Here’s what they’ve been teaching me:

    • Pure honesty is both shocking and refreshing.  I have a student in my class that has a disability that limits his ability to filter, shade, or spin his comments.  All of his responses are direct and there is little doubt about his stance on any issue we may be discussing.  This student has emboldened his classmates however.  Because he is so direct, he has given his classmates the freedom to be similarly straightforward and forthcoming.  As we begin a transition to a new home office, I hope you will feel free to approach me and other ACHE leaders about the ideas you have for our organization.  Give us honest feedback about what you think we do well, what needs to change, and how we can best serve your needs as members of this organization.  As leaders in ACHE, we find that kind of feedback energizing.  
    • Learning about yourself can be hard. This semester I’m working with first year students who have spent a lot of the semester challenging themselves.  Some have discovered that their intended major isn’t going to work for them.  Some have had entrenched beliefs rattled.  Some have discovered they loved something completely out of their comfort zone. And many are finding it overwhelming to define themselves outside of the confines of their nuclear families.  Our organization will face similar challenges as we move through this new change process.  We’ll learn some difficult things about ourselves; we may redefine our mission; and we will certainly look for ways we can grow membership and appeal to higher educational professionals that have not previously looked to ACHE to fulfill their professional development needs. Dee Fink defines learning as change and significant learning as change that is sustained over time.  We’ll need to engage in a process in the coming months that encourages just this kind of sustained learning.
    • A little experience goes a long way. This summer I taught in a grant-funded bridge program for students of color.  The program strives to give students a jumpstart on the first year of college.  It also provides students with continued support throughout the first two years.  We studied together for three hours each day for three weeks – we bonded. While my commitment to the work of the grant was complete at the conclusion of the course, I wanted to continue to spend time with these students and track their progress.  I host dinner for these students once a month.  During these meals, students in the program tell me about how much the summer program helped them be prepared for fall coursework, get to know the campus, and have a built-in support system. This small amount of experience has really helped them be better students.  Similarly, ACHE past-presidents have agreed to help the organization through the home office transition.  We are so lucky that so many past-presidents remain actively involved in the organization and care deeply about its success.  With the leadership of the executive team and the experience of the council of past-presidents, I am quite sure that the organization will be stronger in years to come.
    • Abundant laughter is a really good thing. Each year at mid-term, I ask my students to tell me what we should start, stop, and continue doing in the course.  This year several students said, “Continue laughing abundantly.” For me, one of the joys of working with ACHE over the years has been the strong collegial relationships I have formed with colleagues from across the country.  I have also appreciated that the organization, while taking seriously the important work of serving the higher education needs of adult and non-traditional students, has also been a place where we can laugh together and celebrate together.  In a year of change, maintaining this sense of collegiality is more important than ever.  I know we’ll be laughing together a great deal as we move forward.
    • And finally, we’re better together! Research about belongingness is becoming more and more pervasive in the literature about student success.  I try to cultivate a sense of belonging in my classroom.  I come early to class and mingle with students as they arrive.  I ask students about writing they have done in class.  I spend a little time every Friday just asking students about their lives.  We play games together where they work in various groups and get to know one another.  Part of the reason for this focus on belonging, is because navigating change is easier when you have a team of support.  My students can navigate the changes they are experiencing in the first year because they have faculty who care about them, peer mentors who are devoted to them, and one another to lean on.  As we navigate change in ACHE, it will be important to be able to count on one another.  After the recent Newport conference, it is clear that I need ACHE.  The organization helps me better serve my institution and my students.  Each year I leave the autumn conference feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on new challenges in the organizations.  Because ACHE has a “better together” philosophy, we can all use this period of transition to make the organization stronger.

    If we keep these principles in mind, I know that in October 2019, we’ll be better next fall.

    Amy Johnson
    ACHE President Elect

  • November 02, 2018 3:04 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    It was such a pleasure to meet with so many of you at our 80th Annual Conference held in Newport, Rhode Island earlier this month! From our membership, visiting organizations and our exhibitors, the energy, the ideas, the camaraderie and more are what makes ACHE such an incredible organization. It is all of you!!!! 

    As I begin my presidency, I am honored to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Boozang and others who have preceded me. For while this role is about leadership, it is also about teamwork. The upcoming year will bring new initiatives, programming and more. And as shared in Newport, our 2019 Annual Conference will be held in Denver, Colorado, October 14-16, 2019.

    We are well into the fall season with many of us experiencing the changing colors. And with the changing seasons come other changes as well. In January 2019, the University of Oklahoma will no longer serve as our ACHE home office. We greatly appreciate the commitment and support that Dr. Belinda Biscoe, Dr. Nina Barbee, and so many others at the home office have given to ACHE over these years.

    As a result, a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new home office will be sent out to all membership institutions within the next week so we can continue on our path of success. I ask for you to contact your institutional leadership to determine if there is interest at your respective institution. Please look for the RFP information in your inbox. We have an RFP committee that will review the RFPs as we move forward in this new direction.

    As stated on our website, “As an organization of colleges, universities, and individuals, we encourage professional development, research and exchange of information for its members and continuing higher education as a means of enhancing and improving society.” This new season we are going through is exemplary of that statement and we look forward to working together to continue the great work of this wonderful organization.



    I look forward to an exciting year!

    ACHE President 2019


  • October 26, 2018 10:00 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)


    Keeping the Beacon of Continuing Education Burning Bright
    was full of collegial networking, professional learning, and fun!

    Click here or on any of the pictures below, which are just a sampling of the photos available, to see the full 2018 ACHE Conference Photo Album.

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