UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is expanding its annual conference devoted to the best ways to supporting adult learners by including experts from other Big Ten universities and inviting higher education professionals across the country to attend.
The 2021 Penn State Hendrick Best Practices for Adult Learners Conference will be streamed online from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 10, and Tuesday, May 11, through the platform Whova.
Faculty, staff and administrators from any university in the country are invited to attend. Registration is open through May 7.
The conference’s topics are aimed at faculty, staff and administrators who serve adult learners. The schedule has been organized around four tracks: recruitment and retention; teaching; engaging and resourcing; and support services, advising and learning support.
Sessions include talks from experts, networking opportunities for staff, panel discussions with current Penn State adult learners, and presentation of the outstanding service award for a Penn State employee who supports these students.
The keynote speaker is Malissa Ayala, director of Purdue University’s Span Plan, a program that began in 1968 to provide support services to nontraditional students. Ayala, who was an adult learner when she got her bachelor’s degree, will discuss the experience of building a support services program for undergraduate nontraditional students, such as those who began at Purdue when Span Plan started.
Hendrick Conference chairs Ruth Ann Herstek and Chuck Greggs said they wanted to expand the format of the conference, which in years past was open to only Penn State employees. This year, conference will include the four different tracks and as well as speakers, presenters and attendees from the Big Ten and other universities.
“We wanted to bring to together professionals from across higher education to share their diverse experiences supporting adult learners,” said Herstek, the associate director of advising at the Penn State New Kensington campus.
“The tracks will allow participants to create an individual experience by focusing on one track or exploring different topics in any of the four tracks,” added Greggs, associate director of enrollment at the Penn State Shenango campus. “Even though we are virtual this year, we will have built-in opportunities to network with other attendees by areas of interest each day.”
Adult learners are a significant population of Penn State’s student population, with more than 15,000 undergraduates and almost 16,000 graduate students attending the University through one if its 24 campuses, including University Park and Penn State World Campus.
Penn State’s Commission for Adult Learners sponsors the annual conference, which is named in honor of the late Shirley Hendrick, associate dean for continuing education in the Penn State Smeal College of Business and the inaugural chair of the commission. The commission, established in 1998, comprises administrators, faculty and staff from across Penn State who are dedicated to reviewing policies and practices that will improve the adult learner experience at the University.
Visit the Hendrick Conference website to register and see the full program agenda.