WMU News

WMU to offer new nonprofit leadership program

June 27, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- Meeting the demand for skilled professionals in the nonprofit sector is the goal of a new program Western Michigan University will offer this fall in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

The Graduate Certificate Program in Nonprofit Leadership and Administration was approved June 27 by the WMU Board of Trustees.

The 18-credit-hour program is intended to meet the professional education needs of people currently filling administrative roles in nonprofit organizations as well as those who plan to fill such roles in the near future. The University has been offering individual courses on a pilot basis for the past year and they have proven to be quite popular.

"The need for this program is driven by the growing demands on nonprofit organizations created by shifts in government funding and in public interest," said Dr. Timothy Light, WMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. "The dramatic growth in nonprofit employment and service provision has had significant consequences for the management of nonprofit organizations, and the need to improve the management skills of many nonprofit managers who have been trained as practitioners."

He pointed out that Kalamazoo and Battle Creek have both percentages of people employed in the nonprofit sector higher than the state average and a 25 percent nonprofit employment growth rate from 1987 to 1992. Currently, there are more than 14,000 individuals employed by nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties.

Classes for the program will be taught on WMU's main campus in Kalamazoo and at the University's Kendall Center in Battle Creek. The program will be offered through the Division of Continuing Education and housed in the School of Public Affairs and Administration.

However, the program's impetus comes from a much broader base. Chairing the committee that developed the program over the past two years were Dr. Susan B. Hannah, associate professor of public affairs and administration, and Dr. Danny H. Thompson, professor of social work. Faculty members from a variety of other units also were involved, including the departments of accountancy, communication, educational leadership, finance and commercial law, management and sociology as well as the College of Fine Arts. In addition, leaders from area nonprofit organizations were consulted.

"This is truly an interdisciplinary project and a collaborative effort," said Dr. James A. Visser, dean of the Division of Continuing Education.

The courses will be taught by senior faculty members from the various areas as well as key leaders in the nonprofit sector, such as Dr. Norman Brown, president emeritus of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Peter Christ, president and chief executive officer of the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

The certificate program of study was selected over a traditional graduate degree program because of its ability to use delivery formats that are more convenient for adult learners than the traditional 15 weekly sessions per semester. All classes will be offered in the evenings or on weekends.

The program may be taken by itself or in conjunction with a graduate degree program. Students applying for admission must: possess a master's or other graduate degree; have current admission to a graduate degree program; or possess a bachelor's degree with an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 and work, voluntary experience or familiarity with nonprofit organizations.

The program eventually could be expanded to WMU's other off-campus locations, depending on market demand and resources, Visser said. WMU also has off-campus centers in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Muskegon and Benton Harbor/St. Joseph.

For more information about the program, persons may call the WMU Office of Weekend and Kalamazoo Programs at (616) 387-4127 or the Kendall Center in Battle Creek at 616 965-5380.

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