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Cathy Sandeen to Lead ACE Adult Learning and Attainment Initiative

October 09, 2012

UCLA Extension Dean to Shape Multipronged National Agenda Aimed at Ensuring More Adults Obtain College Degrees

ACE announced today that Cathy A. Sandeen, a longtime leader in serving nontraditional learners, will join the Council as vice president for education attainment and innovation.

Sandeen has been dean of continuing education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) since 2006, overseeing an organization that serves 50,000 part-time nontraditional students per year and encompasses 400 staff, 2,500 part-time faculty and a self-supporting, $75 million annual budget.

UCLA Extension, a large academic unit within the university, was an early adopter of online teaching and learning and has integrated online courses into its curriculum for more than 15 years. Sandeen, who is well-versed in how technology can increase student access and success, recently negotiated a partnership with a Silicon Valley start-up called Empowered Careers, which re-trains baby boomers affected by the economic downturn so they can find jobs and restart their careers.

Sandeen has held positions at the University of California for 22 years. Her previous positions include serving as vice provost and dean of the University Extension and Summer Session at the University of California, Santa Cruz and as assistant dean for educational support services at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry. She was a 2010-11 ACE Fellow, participating in the nation's premier higher education leadership development program preparing senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities.

"Cathy Sandeen is a higher education innovator who is well positioned to help ACE and our member institutions shape the type of ambitious national adult learning agenda that is needed to return the United States to preeminence in postsecondary educational attainment," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. "With the generous support of the Kresge Foundation and our other partners in this effort, ACE will continue to move forward in this vital area of increasing the numbers of adults who enter or re-enter school and obtain a college degree."

"In her new role, Cathy will convene national leaders from across higher education, business and government in the effort to design the key elements of a national adult learning and attainment agenda," said Gretchen M. Bataille, ACE senior vice president for Leadership and Lifelong Learning. "ACE and our partners and member institutions are committed to forging progress in the national education arena and offering more adult learners an accessible pathway to a degree."

"Postsecondary education in this country is at a critical inflection point, with the economic and social imperative to educate our citizens greater than ever," said Sandeen, who will join the Council on Jan. 2, 2013. "We must develop new ways of thinking, organizing and achieving optimal outcomes in innovative ways, and I am excited to have the opportunity to assist ACE with its cutting-edge initiatives to improve postsecondary attainment."

Sandeen holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and an MBA from UCLA's Anderson School of Management.

A Kresge Foundation grant of $600,000 announced earlier this year is helping support ACE's national adult education agenda. ACE also is committing additional funding from the Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation and Hearst Foundation to its overall adult education initiative and will spend a total of about $1 million to propel action on a national scale.

As part of this new initiative, ACE will survey existing best practices and create innovative methods to help more nontraditional adult students gain college degrees. The Kresge Foundation grant, as well as Ford Foundation funds, also has enabled ACE to award grants to six higher education institutions for innovative adult education demonstration projects.

Other aspects of the initiative will include surveys conducted through ACE's Center for Policy Analysis on the use of prior learning assessment by higher education institutions, the military, employers and adult learners in obtaining postsecondary credentials, and a series of focus groups with college and university presidents, other academic leaders and adult learner groups to examine how to remove barriers to adult postsecondary attainment.

ACE has long led the national movement to recognize and promote adult learning in higher education. Founded to address the educational needs of returning World War I veterans, ACE created the GED® test after World War II and has established programs to evaluate military and corporate training for college credit recommendations.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jonathan Riskind  ▪ 202-939-9453  ▪


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