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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA Outreach College offers new courses

Cecilia Lisset Alvarez
Cecilia Lisset Alvarez // The Daily Wildcat Rita Martinez-Purson, assistant dean of the Outreach College, speaks about the start the Outreach College program at the University of Arionza, which was in August 2012.

The UA Outreach College is offering new non-credit professional development and personal enrichment courses. The courses start today, but enrollment will be open throughout the fall semester.

These types of courses have been offered in the past through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Arizona Youth University, but this is the first time courses will be targeted at adults who are looking to either further their education or seek out opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities.

Rita Martinez-Purson, who has been a continuing education dean for 27 years, was brought to the UA to revamp this program.

“There is a demand for these programs because the economy is changing so much that people that lost work back in 2007 and 2008 need new skills as they start getting reemployed,” Martinez-Purson said. “They may already have their college degrees, but they need additional certification and skills in order to compete for the jobs.”

For those looking for professional development, the UA is offering courses to gain renewal of certificates in areas such as accounting, web design and legal research and writing. More than 200 courses are being offered in a wide variety of categories.

There are also almost 50 personal enrichment courses available to cater to a broad spectrum of interests. Subjects covered include archaeology, hiking, financial planning and many different languages. A course called “Break Bread with a Professor” allows the students to meet with a professor and learn more about the professor’s native country in an intimate setting.

These programs have been in development since August of last year, and the university is hoping that all its hard work will unite the school with the community, Martinez-Purson said.

“We are going to be very interested in what the community is interested in, so we would love feedback from the community,” Martinez-Purson said. “These programs have to be very relevant in order for them to be viable. We need it to be relevant to what the community needs.”

Katie Eklund, an assistant professor in the department of disability and psychoeducational studies, said she sees this as a “win-win situation” for community professionals and students getting ready to search the job market.

“It could be a nice networking opportunity for students to be able to connect with professionals who are in the field that they are interested in going into one day,” Eklund said.

Courses and their prices are listed on the UA Outreach College’s website in its course catalog.

Amira Ahmed, a pre-law psychology senior, said she had mixed emotions about the new outreach program.

“I feel like it might be a little bad for college students because these people are already experienced in that area of study and coming back to gain even more experience, making it harder for students to compete for jobs,” Ahmed said. “But I feel like it could also be a good thing because most people these days aren’t very experienced in the fields that they’re going in, so in a way it will be good for the community.”

-Follow Katie Bickell @KatieNewsAZ

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