Renee Herzing

Given the extraordinary regulatory and political challenges facing career education, what improvements/innovations does the sector need to implement to remain a leader in higher education?

First and foremost, we need to stay focused on our students and their needs. The external environment can be very distracting for us as leaders, as well as to our staff and faculty, and we need to remain focused on what is important and what has led to our success: putting students first. Focusing on our students and committing to continuous improvement will result in innovation.

In terms of improving our leadership in higher education, we need to work together as a sector to change the dialogue. This is the focus of Steve Gunderson, the new President of ASPCU, who is the right leader to make this happen. The country needs the workforce we create and adult students need our pro-student-success model. The economic value we provide society needs to be the discussion point, and every institution has an obligation to make this happen by being part of collective work of APSCU and by working to have members of Congress in their schools to meet students.

Please explain the innovations you’ve brought to (or observed in) career education. What led you to recognize the need for these innovations? What has been their impact on students and higher education?

Key industry innovations of our sector are the career-focused curriculum with strong employer input, “taking education to the student” by having many small local campuses in different locations for commuter students, and flexible scheduling and delivery methods, which include the major educational revolution that online learning has created. Herzing was founded on and continues to develop the above innovations because it is what our students need, and we have always kept the dialogue open with them about how we can serve them better. The impact of these innovations has been a tremendous increase in educational access. The door to higher education has been opened wide for adult learners, and our country’s economic success depends on the revitalization of their workforce skills.

What quality about career colleges or their students motivates you personally?

Our students are all champions of the American dream when you think of all the commitments they are juggling and the tremendous obstacles some of them have overcome to be successful. Most of our students have to work while in school, and many have children to support. I am forever inspired by the work-study-parenting combination that they manage – and how little sleep they function on. They believe that through hard work, they can make life better for their families and their communities. My job – all of our jobs – is to prove them right.

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