The team at LSU Online & Continuing Education is not only familiar with change … they thrive on it. From providing continuing education programs for more than 95 years to launching fully online degree programs in the last decade, the organization is adept at helping a wide range of non-traditional students improve their lives with flexible and convenient learning opportunities to meet their needs.
In the past two years, LSU Online has been busy: increasing enrollment by 64% and doubling the number of programs offered, resulting in more than 40 jobs back to the LSU campus by building a fiscally sustainable infrastructure to support students, faculty and enrollment growth.
AT A GLANCE
Redefining higher education by providing accessible and affordable learning options in high-demand, workforce-relevant fields
Dr. Sasha Thackaberry, Vice President; Charlotte Bencaz, Chief Partnership Officer and Director of Marketing; Lisa Verma, Senior Director, Professional Development, Pre-College, and OLLI
Address: 2148 Pleasant Hall,
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
According to Vice President Dr. Sasha Thackaberry, LSU Online’s philosophy of being agile has been key to quickly scaling the demands of both higher education and the workforce.
“For us, being agile is more than a project management function—though we also do that,” Thackaberry says. “We’ve spent some time creating and investing in a solid yet flexible infrastructure so we can fill in the gaps in skill sets being seen in the workforce.”
By working with professional and trade organizations and monitoring employment data and analytics from a variety of industries, LSU Online determines which programs are needed, then works with LSU world-renowned faculty members to create relevant, high-value learning experiences across online, on-site and on-campus options.
“Our ultimate goal is to improve the professional and financial lives of students and employers who work with us,” Thackaberry says. “One way we do that is by making high-quality just-in-time training or degree programs available in the format professionals need, often allowing employees to conveniently learn wherever they are. Additionally, employers that provide tuition reimbursement or professional development benefits have seen up to +140% ROI for the company.”
In continuing to meet the needs of employers, LSU Online has also created the role of a Chief Partnership Officer, Charlotte Bencaz, to ensure the direct connection between LSU efforts and employer needs for upskilling and re-skilling. Additionally, Lisa Verma, Senior Director of Professional Development, and her team have a rich history of providing online, on-campus, and on-site options for a variety of regional employers.
“We’ve been able to work with employers and associations to identify what professional credentials or military training may translate into college credit, which could shorten the time it takes students to earn a degree and saves money for either the employer or the student,” Bencaz says. Currently, LSU Online offers college credit for military training and certifications through Amazon/AWS, PMP, CFA, CPA, SHRM, Certified Professional Constructors, and more.
“When we create pathways like this for learners to apply credentials to, we are helping them upskill or re-skill to improve their financial situation,” Thackaberry says. “But in doing so, we’re also helping companies adjust to the changing trends in their industry, which provides a tremendous return on the investment they’re making in employees’ professional development. It’s truly a win-win because employers can achieve longer-term organizational goals while seeing their employees meet current career goals and improve their financial health.”
In addition to developing thorough, robust strategies and offering a wide variety of courses, the LSU Online team is dedicated to providing every student with world-class customer service.
“We want our adult learners to focus on developing new skills, not on having to figure out details of registering for classes or searching for the correct office to contact to pay tuition,” Thackaberry says. “Every LSU Online student is paired with a dedicated Learner Concierge to support them throughout their program. Our secret sauce is how we support our students.”