St. Gregory’s, State Become Partners in Employee Education
St. Gregory’s University and the State of Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management have signed an agreement that will give government employees college credit for earning professional certifications on the job.
According to the agreement, state employees who earn certifications through the Certified Public Manager [CPM] program, a management-training program for government employees, can turn their real-world work experience into up to 15 hours of undergraduate credit or nine hours of graduate credit when they enroll in business courses as part of St. Gregory’s Accelerated Learning Program.
St. Gregory’s President Greg Main said he hopes the agreement represents the first many with institutions in Oklahoma.
“As a former Secretary of Commerce, I always had great respect for the Human Resource operations in state government,” Main said, “and I think this is a significant move on their part to try to really give the opportunity for significant advancement to their employees.”
Lucinda Meltabarger, Administrator of the State of Oklahoma Division of Human Capital Management, believes equating the skills employees acquire as part of the CPM program with college credit will make it easier for private businesses to recognize the true value of the certifications.
“I was one of those who left school before the traditional four years,” Meltabarger said, “and I always promised myself I was going to go back and finally did. This is a way that our employees can dip their toe in the water from what we do and, all of a sudden, realize, ‘Hey, I can take this all the way to a four-year or a graduate program,’ without feeling like they are starting from square one. It just adds a whole other layer of acceptance and professionalism to the program that we already have.”
As part of St. Gregory’s Accelerated Learning Program, students will take classes just one night a week with other adult learners who have professional careers, according to St. Gregory’s Vice President of
Graduate and Continuing Studies Dr. Bill Mayfield.
“We hire industry experts to teach our courses,” Mayfield said, “so students aren’t just learning from a textbook. The experiential wisdom of our instructors and our focus on a discussion-based learning method, where the faculty and students discuss topics together, creates a very active learning style that can be applied to any real-world working environment.”
Dr. Ron Diggs, St. Gregory’s Graduate Programs Chair and a former state employee himself, was intrigued by the opportunities the CPM program offered state administrators, and he wanted to give those individuals the opportunity to continue their educations beyond what the program offers.
“Working with the accelerated programs here at St. Gregory’s, I thought it would be a great opportunity to merge the two together,” Diggs said. “The CPM program has a lot of good information about diversity in the workplace. They touch on leadership and management and a variety of topics that we have in the classroom. Our programs fit the same types of students they have because they are working professionals.
“A lot of state agencies will give promotions based on graduate degrees, so it’s a great way to help support state employees and supplement the education they’re getting from the state, so we can help them get to that next level as a professional.”
According to Certified Public Manager Program Coordinator Joyce Smith, more than 200 candidates are currently making their way through the program’s levels.
“Any level of government can go through our program,” Smith said. “It’s not just for state employees. It can be for city, county or federal employees. And since this is a national program, a CPM certification received in Oklahoma is good anywhere in the country. That’s why we really appreciate signing this agreement. We think it will be very beneficial to some of our candidates.”