Regis University Wins Award for Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins Program
Tags: Jesuit, jesuits, Regis University
Regis University’s College for Professional Studies (CPS) has won the national-level University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s (UPCEA) Outstanding Credit Program Award for the “Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins” (JC:HEM) program.
The national award, voted by the UPCEA National Awards Committee, recognizes a credit continuing education program that is “original in substantive ways” and that aspires to and or demonstrates “excellence in achieving its educational objectives.”
“Congratulations to JC: HEM for such a wonderful program – this program truly demonstrates the mission of Jesuit education and Regis University,” said Roxanne M. Gonzales, CPS academic dean and professor. “I applaud the commitment and determination of our faculty and staff for their involvement with JC:HEM and by doing so help make a positive difference for those at the margins of our society.”
JC:HEM is an initiative of the Society of Jesus that brings Jesuit higher education to those at the margins of society. JC:HEM works with the Jesuit Refugee Service that has enabled more than 300 refugees to study courses online and on-site in partnership with a global network of Jesuit universities. Those refugees can earn a diploma in liberal studies and pursue community service learning tracks for a certificate of completion that benefit daily life in the camps.
According to Marie Friedemann, CPS associate dean, CPS faculty members are among those teaching the online courses in Kenya and Malawi. Friedemann notes that in fall 2010, CPS faculty and staff initiated the credentialing process, making Regis the first credentialing university for JC:HEM. CPS faculty and staff developed the curriculum and delivered the courses in January 2011, then faculty began teaching the online courses in February 2011. In addition, 15 other Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States are also involved with JC:HEM.
Friedemann, who has been extensively involved in JC:HEM, shared that one of the many challenges of the project involved computer literacy, as some of the students in the refugee camps have a fair amount of computer literacy while for others computer and online learning is less familiar.
“So part of the initiative involves enhancing that familiarity with computing, internet services, and library,” said Friedemann. She added that from cultural sensitivities and social structures to values and linguistics sensitivities and meanings, “we are walking into a completely new arena” and that “we are going to do as much if not more learning that the students. But it’s exhilarating.”
Regis University also recently hosted the first international JC:HEM “Think Tank” where 120 Jesuit Catholic higher education leaders and innovators and Jesuit Refugee Service staff from around the globe participated, with a goal of charting the future of the program.
“This is an award of the highest distinction and honor in our profession,” said Bilita Mattes, chair of the 2011-2012 UPCEA Awards Committee and associate provost for Strategic Markets, in a congratulatory letter to Fr. Michael Sheeran, S.J., president of Regis University. “On behalf of the Awards Committee and the leadership of UPCEA, we thank you for the innovation and potential impact that your program brings to continuing and professional education. Jesuit Commons truly provides a model to which colleagues at other institutions can aspire.”
Sandra Gabrych Dickey, chair of the Film/Video BFA program at Regis University in association with the Colorado Film School, created a video describing the JC:HEM program.