Opening Doors for 100 Years -- 1913-2013

For over 100 years, the College of Continuing Education at the U has "opened doors" for Minnesotans. Offerings empowered those looking for the credentials they needed to take them where they dreamed of going, the professional development that kept them fresh once they were in their careers, and the personal enrichment programs that helped them see their world from a whole new perspective.

Centennial Stories

Turbulent economic times. A frenetic pace of change in society. A need for professionals to stay on the edge of their profession or risk falling behind. Sound familiar?

Joan T. Smith "fell in love with the U" upon a high school visit and joined the ranks of the University of Minnesota freshman class after finishing high school at the young age of 16. Her father, an accomplished accountant who passed away that year, would have been proud to see her earn a bachelor of science in economics and a master's in accounting. Her mother, an artist at heart who favored watercolor and piano over working in business, knew the importance of following what you love, if only from her own diversion from her passions. Even after her father's death, Joan's mother found a way to put Joan through college. 

"There had been a bit of a practice...on the Iron Range where if there was [a high school] student who was ready to be challenged a bit more, there was an effort made to provide him or her the opportunity to take some courses at a nearby community college," remembers Cyndy Crist, retired system director for P-16 collaboration for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MnSCU). 

From its very beginnings, the College of Continuing Education has been one of the standard bearers for the University's outreach mission--bringing educational and other learning opportunities to people not just on campus, but in the far corners of the state, the country, and even around the globe.

While the College's history reaches back to 1913, one of its current program areas - LearningLife - goes back "only" a modest five decades. Oh, but what a perfect decade it was for the College to start a movement. And, a movement it was, a movement to give lifelong learners the chance to see the world from new perspectives, follow their passions, or create for themselves a new beginning. Over the years, a changing slate of offerings emerged, each specifically designed to meet the needs of the time. 

The University of Minnesota has a rich tradition of individualized, interdisciplinary study--a tradition in which the College of Continuing Education has some of its deepest roots.

From farm reports and football games broadcast in Morse code to education for homebound kids during the polio epidemic; from Garrison Keillor's radio roots to being one of the reasons Rolling Stone magazine thinks the U of M rocks... Radio K (KUOM), the award-winning student-run radio station of the University of Minnesota has covered a lot of (widely varied) ground in its 100-year history.