Looking Ahead to New Continuing Education Offerings

Mark your calendars: 2024 is the year St. Michael’s Continuing Education division will introduce an enhanced slate of offerings for everyone from the travellers hoping to pick up some basic phrases to people seeking advanced skills to enable career progression.

Dr. Michael Salvatori, who joined the University of St. Michael’s College last fall as Director of Continuing Education, is now immersed in the practical issues of expanding the division. He’s looking to find the ideal administrative software to handle everything from registration to providing transcripts while also gauging interest in various topics and chatting with potential instructors.

“Right now we are asking what needs we can best meet,” says Salvatori, a St. Mike’s alumnus who has had a lengthy career in education, most recently as Vice President of Niagara University in Ontario. He is currently speaking to a broad array of stakeholders, including Catholic teachers’ organizations and groups interested in Catholic leadership, to determine how St. Mike’s can capitalize on its unique strengths to serve the broader community.

While many courses will have a Catholic lens, he is quick to note they will speak to anyone interested in ongoing education because they will focus on issues such as integrity and ethics, and human dignity, which are of interest to all.

“The university’s mission statement notes that we are grounded in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. We will use that tradition to unpack topics that reflect universal values,” he explains.

Salvatori envisions Continuing Education having three streams: professional learning certificates and diplomas; stand-alone courses for professional development, often tailored to a specific need; and general interest courses aimed at lifelong learners. Programs will include a variety of delivery options, including on-campus courses, online courses, and courses delivered off-site.

SRS 2022-23 Cohort
SRS 2022-23 Cohort

The first stream will be aimed at working professionals and designed to support career progression leading to a diploma, certificate, or micro credential, with the potential for laddering into degree programs. These extended programs may run anywhere from six months to a  full academic year. Along with existing programs, such as the Advanced Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability and the Diploma in Interfaith Dialogue, Salvatori sees numerous other possible additions, including a Certificate in Catholic Educational Leadership and Additional Qualifications courses for certified Ontario teachers.

The second category will be developed in concert with various agencies and organizations to support career progression and/or skill acquisition in areas of interest as identified by an organization or employer.
These classes could be delivered in a partner organization’s workplace, including, for example, professional development workshops for various school boards. Examples of potential topics include ethics in the contemporary workplace; political acuity and working with elected officials; emotional intelligence; and identifying bias.

The final stream may be the form of continuing education with which most people are familiar, and that’s the branch dedicated to people interested in lifelong learning. These offerings will include experiential learning options, often directly related to areas that reflect St. Mike’s academic specialties. These brief, non-credit sessions will be offered in both on-campus and remote formats. Some of the ideas that have been suggested include language learning for fun, travel and conversation; how to write and publish a blog or create a podcast; AI; and discovering the art, architecture, history and thought leaders of the University of St. Michael’s College.

Salvatori is aiming to cultivate a variety of audiences for Continuing Education, including St. Mike’s own recent graduates.

“What are we doing for those who have graduated recently or who are looking at next steps? We should be asking them, for example, ‘What do you need to support your transition to employment?’,” he says.

The vital information needed to ensure course offerings meet audience needs and interested will be gleaned via surveys, focus groups and broader consultation with a variety of stakeholders, he adds.

Expect more specific news soon on course offerings, Salvatori advises, noting that one of the goals is a formal calendar for the 2024-2025 academic year.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you: What kinds of general interest programs would you like to see? What are the contemporary issues you are facing in the workplace? Email Michael.Salvatori@utoronto.ca.

The renewal and expansion of Continuing Education is an exciting venture for the university and an opportunity both to develop new and innovative programs and to strengthen our relationships with the community, alumni, and our partners. St. Mike’s is excited for the coming year.