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Stanford Center for Professional Development joins Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning to extend educational opportunities at Stanford and beyond

September 15, 2016


The Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) has joined forces with the university’s Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL) to foster advances in new technologies, instructional design and pedagogical innovation for all of Stanford’s schools.

The combined organization, which came into effect Sept. 1, allows Stanford to offer extended learning opportunities to many more students and represents a tremendous opportunity for Stanford to continue shaping the future of higher education across disciplines, said John Mitchell, vice provost for teaching and learning.

VPTL promotes teaching and learning innovation at Stanford, provides pedagogy support as well as enhanced physical and virtual learning spaces, and supports Stanford teaching through digital platforms reaching millions of learners worldwide. The two organizations have partnered closely and complement one another in supporting undergraduate, graduate and lifelong-learning programs, including professional education.

John Mitchell

John Mitchell, vice provost for teaching and learning, said, “the union will benefit our residential students and help Stanford reach a global audience of learners.” (Image credit: Rod Searcey)

SCPD is a highly effective organization,” Mitchell said. “Together, we’re better equipped to help each of our schools and research centers accomplish their goals for expanding study in Stanford’s academic disciplines in new ways. The union will benefit our residential students and help Stanford reach a global audience of learners.”

By formalizing this change, Mitchell added, “we’re making it easier for our schools to produce professional education programs from materials they’ve already developed either for campus teaching or MOOCs. And just as importantly, we can more easily use materials developed for professional education to serve campus students better.”

Founded in 1969 and formerly based within Stanford’s School of Engineering, SCPD provides professionals a channel through which they can enroll in Stanford courses and programs while maintaining their careers.

At present, working professionals can pursue a master’s degree in engineering part-time and at a distance, or take classes that lead to a graduate engineering certificate. The nearly 200 individual graduate courses available last year reached over 13,000 students. SCPD also offers professional courses and programs to nearly 50,000 participants a year in collaboration with over 1,000 companies located throughout the world.

“SCPD will continue to offer its existing portfolio of engineering courses and remain a resource to support our initiatives,” said Persis Drell, the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the Stanford School of Engineering. “Combining SCPD with VPTL positions every school in the university to embark on bigger and broader educational initiatives that require a rich mix of capabilities. Now all of Stanford’s schools will benefit from investments in new technologies, instructional design, pedagogical innovation and the insights and energy provided by MOOCs.”

SCPD has been a pioneer in distance education since its founding with roots that date back to the Honors Cooperative Program created by engineering Dean Frederick Terman in 1954. The School of Engineering launched the Stanford Instructional Television Network in 1969, which broadcasted 12 Stanford graduate engineering courses to industry students at four Bay Area technology companies. In 1996, SCPD pioneered online delivery of degrees by offering the first master’s degree online in electrical engineering.  Recent innovations have included the 2008 launch of the Stanford Engineering Everywhere open course initiative and the 2013 launch of ClassX, a modular, comprehensive online repository of Stanford engineering classes available to any Stanford student interested in supplementing their studies.