Janis Machala was recently hired as the new Dean of Continuing Education here at Bellevue College.
“Continuing Education is about lifelong learning. Most of our courses are non-credit courses and a significant percentage of our students already have undergraduate degrees. The vast majority of our students are in the 29-49 year old range,” said Machala.
With over 1000 courses annually, over 500 faculty (mostly industry professionals) and serving over 18,000 students, the Continuing Education program at Bellevue College is the biggest program of its kind in the state.
Machala used to work for her own consulting business for 15 years, mentoring and training business owners when they were just starting up and/or growing their business. Machala was also very high up in marketing and businesses expansion roles at Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Wang Laboratories. But Machala always had a passion for education, and her career started in education. “I was on the Board of Trustees at Lake Washington Institute of Technology for six and a half years, which gave such an appreciation for what colleges like BC do in helping change people’s lives,” said Machala.
Machala has a lot of ideas for this program to make it bigger and better. “We’re exploring the ways we can deliver online courses, hybrid courses, distance education across the State and of course are excited about Canvas as the new Learning Management System for all students and faculty across campus. We are one of the best kept secrets out there so we will be kicking up our marketing efforts to broaden outreach and deepen relationships with existing students, which includes the use of social media for more viral recommendations of our programs,” said Machala. She also added that the North campus was going to be pushed and tested to see if it can handle it all.
There is a wide variey of classes in order to reach out to all ages. The classes range from world languages to community programs such as dancing, making jewelry and even learning how to manage personal professional careers. These classes are for everyone too. Machala said that the classes reach out to all well-rounded people with varied interests, including careers, global topics, creativity – the classes hold an appeal for anyone who love learning.
When asked the advantages of participating in the continuing education program over a for profit online program, Machala said, “Our profit goes to a social mission.” She says that the advantages are students feeding into the community’s pocket, not someone behind closed doors. Plus, students will make connections and build a network of peers who all live in the area. The network later on can help students find jobs. It’s all about using these resources that are given.
With Machala in charge of the continuing education program, students can look for it to only get bigger and better as the years pass. Also, students should not hesitate to enroll in Continuing Education classes; the wide variety of classes offered reach a large number of students and are dedicated to enriching educational experiences for everybody.