March 2010

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Plans Being Finalized for Online College for Working Families

Since its early days as the George Meany Center for Labor Studies, the National Labor College has been an important part of the lives and careers of thousands of trade unionists, including many IBEW members and leaders.

Today, this unique institution, like its partner—the AFL-CIO—is once again adapting to major changes in the makeup of the labor movement and society.

Next fall, the college, based in Silver Spring, Md., will launch a new online learning curriculum that will combine liberal arts with technical training and cover new subjects like security studies, criminal justice and construction management.

"We listened to our members to determine what kinds of courses and degrees people require to advance their careers," Thomas J. Kriger, the college's provost, told Human Resources Online. The online program is dubbed the College for Working Families.

The developing program will be enriched by the experience of Paula Peinovich—who was appointed interim president of the college after the retirement of President William Scheuerman in January. Peinovich was formerly provost and president of Walden University, a distance-learning graduate school. Before that, she was vice president of academic affairs for Excelsior University, an online institution that has trained IBEW members in the nuclear industry.

With added financial pressures on working families, the online curriculum provides a way for students—including the AFL-CIO's 11.5 million members and their families—to pursue educational credits without having to attend the one-week in-residence sessions required under the current curriculum.

Technical support for the online university will be provided by the Princeton Review Inc. and its subsidiary, Penn Foster Education Group Inc.

Kirk Brungard, executive assistant to AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and former IBEW Director of Construction Organizing, is helping to establish the new program. "With partners like Penn Foster and The Princeton Review," says Brungard, "the new distance learning program fulfills the original vision of NLC founders by making available quality, affordable and accredited higher education to millions of rank-and-file union members and their families."

Tuition for the College for Working Families, requirements for entry into the program and course offerings are being finalized.


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