Light Bulb Moment: How Ideas in Higher Ed Evolve Over Time

Ideas, like people, change over time.  

What starts as a thought scribbled on the back of a napkin can evolve into a world changing innovation.  

On this episode of the Illumination podcast, host Amrit Ahluwalia is joined by Jeet Joshee, Associate Vice President and Dean of California State University, Long Beach. The two discuss the continuing education trends Joshee has seen in the last decade and whether CE units should be centralized. 

For many institutions, continuing ed is the leading online education provider, Joshee says. As a sort of testing ground for what works and what doesn’t when moving virtual, CE is often responsible for developing the skills faculty need to transition to online ed.  

“Certainty, the reason for that is the increased number of adults needing education and training,” Joshee says. “Mainly, the ‘some college, no degree’ population.”  

Nearly 40 million Americans who have enrolled in post-secondary education have not seen it through to the end, leaving without a credential.  

Getting those students back in the classroom would transform not only their individual lives but also the national workforce. Continuing education is now seeing the need to serve that population of students, Joshee says.  

A report from the Public Policy Institute of California suggests that 38 percent of jobs in the US will require a college or university degree by 2030 but only 33 percent of workers— around, more than1 million people, will have earned a credential.  

Now, California is on track to close that credential gap, according to the PPIC.  

Joshee says continuing ed played a significant part of that success.  

“Our campus has 40,000 students, usually around 18 to 21-year-old,” Joshee says. “Our growth strategy at Long Beach is ‘how do we tap into the adult market, the ones who need the degree to advance their career?’”  

The school’s leadership is on board with the idea as well. Joshee says it doesn’t matter if a student is coming straight out of high school for a four-year degree program or joining continuing ed after 15 years in the workforce; leadership is just as happy with either so long as they earn their credential and contribute to the local economy.   

Returning students is a critical issue for institutions of all sizes. More than 25 percent of first year students across the United States don’t come back for a second year. That number jumps to 41 percent among community colleges. Additionally, only 62 percent of students earn their degree within six years of first enrolling. Continuing ed is in a unique position to be the stepping stone that students need to get back to their institutions.  

But many campuses are not set up to foster that type of student success.  

“Our systems are set up for the 18 to 21-year-olds,” Joshee says. “Our student services are open from 8:00 until 5:00, but that’s when most adult students would be working.”  

To combat this, CSU Long Beach has a group of administrators tasked with identifying and finding ways to combat barriers to adult learning. They’re working towards becoming more accessible to every learner. 

The level of accessibility can also be impacted by just how connected the CE unit is to the main campus or how centralized it is. Although there may not be a one-size-fits-all model for each and every institution in America, a balance of centralization can help with the organizational structure of the unit.  

“It depends on the institution, their culture and their structure,” Joshee says. “But more importantly, it’s key to understand why is this a debate? Why does this keep coming up? What is the motivating factor behind it? To me, the best model is a programmatically decentralized but operationally centralized.”  

Continuing ed units should work with colleges, faculty and departments to capitalize on that expertise. Programmatically, working with all the departments and experts in a centralized effort can bring everyone’s expertise together. As the names suggest, centralization may bring colleagues together, while a decentralized system may keep colleagues from knowing each other.  

“Sometimes, we are competing with ourselves in the international education sector,” Joshee says. “I have been to conferences and met multiple people who work at the same institution but different colleges, and they don’t even talk to each other or meet up at the conference. If they do meet up they say they didn’t know the other was coming. To me, that’s such an inefficient way of doing things.”  

There are benefits to both centralization and decentralization. The former is ideal for collaboration and a sense of continuity across a campus, while the latter focuses primarily on the individual course being more independent.  

Restaurant Reccos from the Illumination Podcast


As the world continues to re-open and the pandemic continues to dwindle down, more and more people are taking to the road and skies to travel. Joshee recomends anyone making their way to Long Beach stop in at The Boathouse on the Bay, an upscale restaurant right on the water with views of the marina. 

Those looking to pop in somewhere for a drink can go just next door to Ballast Point Brewing, a craft brewer with an award winning collection of IPAs, amber ales, and porters.  

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Student Lifecycle Management

Last updated: June 10, 2022


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