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Lifelong Learning is the New Norm

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PartTimeLifeLongLearnerEducating part-time higher ed students is undeniably complex, and critical for the economy, employers, society, and the non-traditional, working adult student. This is especially true as nations accelerate their embrace of an increasingly diverse, multi-skilled workforce and are committed to lifelong learning to help spur economic growth. Tricia King, pro-vice-master for student experience and director of external relations at Birkbeck, University of London, skillfully addresses these trends with telling research from across the pond.

As evidence, King cites a new report, “The power of part-time,” published by Universities UK (UUK), which emphasizes how part-time study is a “powerhouse for skills” and calls for immediate action to improve and better understand provisions for part-time students. Not too long ago, full-time-study was the standard for most learners — earning a degree first before entering the workforce. As she points out, “There is strong evidence of the social and personal benefits of lifelong learning.” The potential benefits of part-time education also extend to top employers as they compete for talent and boost their employee and leadership development investments.

While there are some nuances compared to the American experience, there are also similarities to how more working adults here are gravitating to more flexible higher education to better accommodate their unique needs. Like those students and graduates that I’ve been proud to meet at APUS, King notes, “Our students are remarkable adults who juggle work and family with study. They struggle and sacrifice to improve their opportunities in life.”  To meet this evolving consumer trend, committed institutions like APUS are providing online, asynchronous platforms with personalized learning options. Consumers are seeking advantageous options for learning and, by doing so, they are helping to determine what education will be like in the future.

Our students, whether active-duty service men and women or those working in other public and private arenas, continue to admirably pursue additional education at whatever time and virtual location best suits their busy lifestyle. Their common purpose is to advance their career within their chosen profession or, often, a new one altogether. As King so unabashedly concludes—I too am proud to champion their collective cause and accomplishment through the availability of lifelong learning.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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