Cindy Parker, vice president of Johnson & Wales University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS), sat down with the Providence Business News for a feature in its “Five Questions With” series. Parker spoke about the university’s online programming, its expansion, and the local economy’s appetite for online education.
In the interview, Parker spoke about the growth in popularity of online courses and programs, especially for JWU’s College of Professional Studies, the recently updated name of JWU’s College of Online Education. While Johnson & Wales University’s Providence, RI, and Charlotte, NC, campuses are geared towards academic and campus life for traditional students, CPS targets working adult learners. In 2010, the university launched its first online bachelor’s degree program with 40 students. Since then, the College has grown in enrollment to its current level of 2,400 fully online students across over 100 academic programs.
“Currently, the majority of CPS students are employed [and] have family duties to balance, with many representing single-parent households,” Parker says. “Online programming offers significant flexibility for all students to work on their academic studies at times that are most convenient for them.”
When asked about the local economy’s reliance on individuals who receive an online degree or certificate to boost the overall workforce, Parker says, “…it is inevitable that local economies will be more influenced by and responsive to engaging with individuals who earned their academic credentials online.”
To ensure Johnson & Wales University and the College of Professional Studies continues to expand and grow through online programming, Parker discussed the College’s strong employer partnerships and commitment to new and market-driven programs. CPS partners with Guild Education – the nation’s leading education and upskilling company – and to date, the College has enrolled nearly 500 Guild-related employees.
Additionally, CPS works collaboratively with the university’s academic colleges in the development and delivery of online programs. “We are currently piloting a newly developed fully online Associate of Applied Science in professional culinary studies with Guild Education employer partner Chipotle,” Parker says. “We have plans to expand through Guild with additional corporate partners this summer and beyond.”
Finally, Parker spoke about Johnson & Wales’s support of veterans. In its history, the university has a rich legacy of supporting veterans by participating in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program and offering a variety of services – from academic counseling to personal financial planners – to support veterans transitioning from active duty to student life. “These offerings helped earn the university the highest ranking in Rhode Island for Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report in 2021,” Parker says. “CPS’ small classes, supportive environment, and access to digital career counseling through the university’s Experiential Education & Career Services are among the leading reasons for the recognition.”
Parker started at Johnson & Wales University at its former Charleston, SC Campus in 2000. Moving to Providence in 2004, she worked in the Provost Office in a range of roles prior to being appointed as the founding Dean of the College of Online Education in 2013.She was appointed vice president of COE in 2019, and continues in the role as vice president of CPS today.
To read the full article, visit the Providence Business News website.