Larenda Mielke, an international leader in professional, online, and executive education, has been named SMU’s first associate provost for continuing education. She will begin her new duties Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.
University President R. Gerald Turner and Provost Steven C. Currall created the position to support one of the major objectives in SMU’s strategic plan, to engage the community for lifelong learning through professional training and continuing education, and in response to a report provided by the Task Force on Continuing Education.
SMU has offered continuing education to the community in different ways since the early 1920s. Currently, SMU’s Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) and Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) programs report directly to the Provost’s Office. CAPE includes noncredit courses, and SMU’s seven academic schools offer for-credit and degree programs as well. Existing continuing education programs in SMU’s academic units report through their respective dean to the provost.
“The vision for SMU’s continuing education is to further strengthen our commitment to academic excellence by broadening accessibility to the outstanding instruction offered by SMU’s faculty members,” said Steven C. Currall, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Ms. Mielke’s background in domestic and international programs, as well as her breadth of experience in intercultural communication, research writing, English language programs in a medical school, and leadership, equips her to succeed in expanding SMU’s continuing education efforts. We expect that continuing education will generate financial surplus that will be reinvested in the University’s academic mission. Larenda is the ideal leader to propel the growth of SMU’s continuing education.”
Mielke stated, “It is with great excitement that I prepare to join SMU’s continuing and professional education team. Together we will build upon the ongoing vision of student-centered, external-facing educational offerings to enrich lives, foster innovation, and enhance productivity. Using the latest technological advances in teaching and learning, and harnessing the synergies of a University-wide effort, together we will join with the other exemplary initiatives of SMU to provide an unbridled residential student experience to include those attending SMU online and at a distance, doing our part to galvanize the University upward and outward while contributing to cutting-edge excellence and leadership among our peers.”
As senior director of Executive Education at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Mielke is a member of the leadership team of an internationally recognized program ranked No. 2 in the United States by the Financial Times. She has developed and led continuing education programs in top academic, corporate, government, and medical organizations and has experience in expanding initiatives, course offerings and revenues.
From 2004-14, Mielke held steadily advancing roles at Washington University in St. Louis, serving ultimately as associate dean and managing director of an Executive M.B.A. program run jointly by the Olin Business School and Fudan University’s School of Management in Shanghai, China. In that role, she managed a multimillion-dollar international program and brought Olin’s Executive M.B.A. program ranking to No. 5 in the world, as assessed by the Financial Times.
Mielke received a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in biology from Indiana State University. She holds an M.A. degree magna cum laude in cross-cultural education from Wheaton College Graduate School and an Executive M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School.
Reporting to the SMU provost, Mielke will provide University-wide leadership to prioritize, coordinate, support and grow continuing education. She will oversee CAPE and the MSDS programs, as well as help create an institution-wide strategy to build on notable efforts that some of SMU’s academic units have already developed in continuing education.
In addition, Mielke will work with the new Continuing Education Program Council (CEPC), comprised of the deans of academic units and chaired by the provost. CEPC will provide guidance to the associate provost regarding the overall strategy for SMU’s continuing education and coordinate new proposals as well as revisions to existing programs.
Associate Provost for Student Academic Services Julie P. Forrester chaired the search committee. “We considered a number of outstanding candidates. Larenda, with her combination of experience and enthusiasm for our goals, was clearly the most impressive,” Forrester said. “We’re looking forward to working with her.”
The higher education search firm of Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. assisted the University in the national search.