In this episode of Work in Progress, I’m talking about dual mission institutions with Carrie Besnette Hauser, Ph.D., president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and Marion Fedrick, president of Albany State University in Albany, Georgia.
Here’s a phrase you’ll hear us say a lot at WorkingNation: “the best solutions to education and workforce issues are local.” The nation’s 400-plus dual mission colleges and universities are doing just that.
What’s interesting about these schools is that they offer a blend of two- and four-year degrees under one roof, along with certificate programs in various industries with local employers helping drive the curriculum. And they’re very affordable.
Sometimes they’re the only game in town, so to speak. “We are most often in rural communities or in places where there aren’t a collection of other institutions.,” explains Hauser. “In our case, we operate almost like a system. We have 11 campuses. We are accredited as one institution, but we serve essentially the mountain ski resorts of Colorado. We were founded on this premise.”
Albany State University is an HBCU located in rural southwestern Georgia. “I still get chills after running this institution for over five years, because it means so much in the communities where we live,” says Fedrick. “(The) work that we’ve been doing over the last five years is to make it seamless for all students to actually go from those certificates to two-year degrees into our four-year degrees. We have master’s degrees at Albany State, as well.”
Local Career Focus
So, what type of education and training do dual mission schools offer? The answer: is it depends on what your community needs.
“We prepare a lot of our students to go right to work. And it’s because businesses have told us what they want and what they need,” says Fedrick.
“We have a Marine Corps logistics base – it’s the fourth largest logistics base in the nation – and they are right here in Albany. We’ve partnered with them on different degrees that they want (including) supply chain management,” she tells me.
Fedrick adds that about 45% of the student body is studying for health care professions. “Nurses, physical therapists, dental hygiene, (medical) coding – we have all of those degrees. Some are certificate degrees, others are associate degrees. We have a bachelor’s degrees in nursing as well.”
Hauser explains that
“We don’t offer a lot of programs because they don’t have relevance in these communities,” says Hauser. “We train nurses. We train law enforcement officers. We train teachers. We train people that are part of the backbone of these communities.”
Some of the programs are unique to only Glenwood Springs and the surrounding area. “We have one of the few avalanche science programs in the country, which would make sense for us. The reason that we offer a blend of degree programs, and types of degree programs, is because they’re not offered in other places.”
The Value of a Dual Mission Institution
Colorado Mountain College was recently named a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Albany State University is the largest Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Georgia.
A dual mission college or university is more affordable, thereby expanding access to education and good jobs in the community at different paces for different people.
Hauser explains it this way. “We’re open access and we do have such interest in these diverse, welcoming environments for anybody. That’s innate to the work that we do, and why we think this dual mission model is so very relevant, critical, and important right now, particularly post-pandemic. We’ve had people come back, they’re retraining,” says Hauser.
“The quicker, the better for a lot of these programs. And so it doesn’t necessarily mean that a four- or five- or six-year bachelor’s degree is the right choice. It might be a quicker step. Let’s try to stop always thinking and defaulting that this is an 18-year-old, or somebody that’s kind of coming in with an upward trajectory. When they may be coming in at some chaotic step-in, step-out model as well.
Fedrick seconds that idea and says dual mission institutions offer even more. “We get a lot of students that are in high school. And as they’re in high school, they can take our classes as well. So some of them are graduating high school and college in the same month with a associate’s degree. Again, what we’re trying to do is get them prepared to go to work pretty quickly because that’s the need of the community, and frankly of our families, in the areas that we live in.”
You can listen to the podcast here, or find and download it where you get your podcasts.
In November, Colorado Mountain College will be hosting the annual Dual Mission Summit it Glenwood Springs, Colorado. You can learn more here.
Episode 241: Carrie Besnette Hauser, Ph.D., President & CEO, Colorado Mountain College and Marion Fedrick, President, Albany State University
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts