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K-State Today

April 8, 2011

Education dean goes the distance for continuing education

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

A long-term commitment to continuing education for educators and nontraditional students, especially in Kansas, is earning the dean of Kansas State University's College of Education national recognition.

Michael Holen is receiving the University Professional and Continuing Education Association's 2011 Conferences and Professional Programs Community of Practice Faculty Service Award. The honor is presented to an individual who is not a member of an extension or continuing education department for outstanding contributions to conferences and professional programs or other continuing education endeavors. It was presented at the association's annual conference, April 6-9, in Toronto.

Holen was recognized for his support in the development of a variety of distance education programs in education to meet the needs of place-bound adult learners, particularly in rural areas of Kansas. These programs include distance-accessible courses specifically meeting the continuing education needs of teachers, coaches, administrators and counselors; an online academic advising master's degree and certificate program; online adult and continuing education master's degree; online reading specialist teacher endorsement program; an English as a second language teacher endorsement program; and ongoing professional development conferences on current topics in education.

"Dr. Holen is a strong advocate of reaching out to underserved populations, promoting awareness of educational needs and developing opportunities to meet those needs through distance education," said Gail Shroyer, professor and chair of the department of curriculum and instruction at K-State.

Holen's leadership was instrumental in the creation of K-State's English as a second language program in 1999, according to Socorro Herrera, professor of curriculum and instruction and director of K-State's Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy. The distance-based program is offered by the College of Education and facilitated by the Division of Continuing Education.

"Dean Holen's ability to forecast the changing demographics of the state of Kansas and the needs that many educators would face has lead to one of the most successful and replicated English as a second language programs in the country," Herrera said. "Through this program and his leadership, more than 1,500 classroom teachers have qualified for ESL endorsement, with more than one-third of these teachers electing to pursue a master’s degree program at K-State via distance or continuing education."

K-State's successful online graduate certificate and master's degree programs in academic advising also have benefited from Holen's leadership, said Kenneth Hughey, professor and chair of the department of special education, counseling and student affairs.

The online graduate certificate in academic advising, launched in 2003, is a collaboration between the College of Education, Division of Continuing Education and National Academic Advising Association. To date, 225 students have earned the certificate. The online master's degree is academic advising began in 2008 and has had 78 graduates.

"This honor is really a testimony to the many talented and creative faculty members who have transformed ideas into action," Holen said. "They have done the real work to assure our college responds to the needs of professional educators across Kansas and throughout the nation."

Holen joined K-State's College of Education in 1971 and served as a professor, department head and associate dean before being named dean in 1991.

His work has earned many honors. He received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service to Minority Education in 1988; was named the national Outstanding Rural Educator by ACRES in 2002; and was recognized as the Outstanding Alumnus in Education by the University of Oregon in 2004. Holen has chaired the Regents' Council of Education Deans three times and served in a variety of roles within the Big 12 governance structure, including as K-State's Big 12 faculty athletics representative from 1999 to 2010. In 2002 the K-State School of Leadership Studies named its Outstanding Leadership Award in his honor.

Holen earned a bachelor's in history from Stanford University and his master's and doctorate degrees in educational psychology from the University of Oregon.