Dawn Stoneking’s career has been one surrounded by university outreach.
The university named Stoneking the director of Lifelong Learning Jan. 5.
Lifelong Learning, a collection of various programs for both career skills and leisure, starts as early as Pre-K and continues through 12th grade all the way to post-graduation. It even includes post-retirement. Activities include leisure and recreation, the arts, music and skill development.
“Lifelong Learning is pretty broad in terms of educating a whole person,” Stoneking said.
Outside corporations often partner with Lifelong Learning for specialized training that may be needed for employees. If a specific skill is necessary for a certain environment, faculty from both the university and corporation may be brought in for training.
Most programs offered are open enrollment unless it is partnered with a business to train underneath its business umbrella.
Outreach and Engagement also offers a bachelor of professional studies program. This degree has been offered for nearly 20 years and targets adult students who may be returning to school to receive their degrees.
“We try to meet the needs of what our constituents want,” said Mark Bernhard, associate provost for Outreach and Engagement.
The Lifelong Learning program has been around since 1974 and has since expanded to include many other fields.
“It is a piece within our entire division of Outreach and Engagement along with opportunity development, community engagement and, to an extent, distance learning,” Bernhard said. “It is definitely our biggest area in terms of programs offered.”
Bernhard said he was looking for someone with broad-based experience in continuing professional education and distance education. He also sought a strategic thinker with a good understanding of daily operations due to the size of the Outreach and Engagement operation.
Stoneking graduated from Radford University with a degree in social work in 2000. She then worked for Virginia Tech in Outreach and International Affairs for about seven years.
Over three years ago, she became the Assistant Director for Finance and External Initiatives and Enrollment and Degree Management Marketing at Virginia Tech, where she managed projects for the university.
“We had many, many candidates apply,” Bernhard said. “(Stoneking) rose to the top and we’re very pleased that she’s here.”