EXCEL Program graduates first associates degree student

Huntington, Ind.—Huntington College will graduate its first Associate degree student through the Excel Program this May 19, 2001. Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old manufacturing associate with United Technologies, says, “I am very excited about graduating. I never thought I would make it to this day.”

Hughes lives in Marion, Indiana and started in the EXCEL Program in September of 1999 with no prior college credits. He was able to earn credits by passing several CLEP and Dantes placement tests and soon he was on his way to earning a degree in Organizational Management. Hughes credits former EXCEL director, Bernie Sprunger, as a great encouragement in his decision to go to school. Hughes said, “She told me I could do it and that she would do all she could to help me.” Though Hughes started out working toward the bachelor’s degree Huntington offers through the EXCEL program, when the school launched the associates program this February Hughes felt like this was an ideal way for him to earn his degree.

The Associate’s Degree program consists of 64 academic credits: 25 in the Huntington College core curriculum, 31 in the organizational management major, and eight in electives. “The new programs is intended for adults in the community who have never been to college, or have few college credits, but believe the time is right for them to finish their degree,” said Dr. Ronald J. Webb, vice president and dean of the college “While the Associate’s Degree can be seen as a final educational experience, and is certainly designed that way, we hope that many would decide to continue on to pursue a bachelor’s degree through our EXCEL program. The College is excited about being able to use our educational resources to meet a growing need in the community.”

Hughes is grateful for the experiences his education has provided. “It has helped me to study with a more critical eye, challenged me to learn about new technology, and has given me a better ability to deal with other people. It has also motivated me get back into the habit of studying the Bible on a deeper level.” He commented, “The one-on-one attention I received during my final project from my advisor and sponsor, Dr. Paul Fetters, was invaluable to my experience at Huntington.” After graduation Hughes doesn’t plan to give up the books all together. He says, “When you’re too old to learn, you’re too old. People should be intentional about adding to their knowledge.”

“By offering a new Associate’s Degree, Huntington College is addressing community requests for a two-year degree that adult students can earn while working full time,” said Dr. Stephen D. Holtrop, assistant dean for curriculum development. “Increasing numbers of adults—both in our area and nationwide—are looking for convenient programs to provide them the college experiences they want.

Hughes encourages anyone thinking about finishing a degree to “Go for it and don’t quit! Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.” For many working adults the time to go back to school has never been better. Employers often encourage—and pay for—employees to pursue college degrees.” Hughes' employer, United Technologies, offers incentives in the form of free tuition and books and an issuing of company stock upon graduation to any employees going back to school.

Since 1993 Huntington College has provided a bachelor’s degree completion program in organizational management through the EXCEL Program and has offered the new associates degree since February 2001. For further information on the EXCEL Program, call (260) 359-4162.

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Heather Barkley
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