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Learning doesn’t end with a degree. We all develop new skills and gain new knowledge throughout the course of our lives. So why not allow the public—and not just college students—to take advantage of a top university’s brightest minds? Find out how a local innovation pioneer paved the way for life-long learning.
Learning doesn’t end with a degree. We all develop new skills and gain new knowledge throughout the course of our lives.
So why not allow the public—and not just college students—to take advantage of a top university’s brightest minds? And how about also serving as a catalyst to help a community evolve into an intellectual powerhouse with a worldwide reputation?
This is the vision of Mary Walshok, the dean of UC San Diego Extension. It’s also the reality she’s helped create throughout the past four decades of converting UC San Diego Extension into a cherished part of San Diego’s education scene.
Born to Swedish parents, Walshok was raised in a progressive household where her father encouraged her to attend law school. However, Walshok turned to education with a goal of finding a way to blend the worlds of work and academia.
She started her tenure as UC San Diego Extension’s women’s studies director and became dean in 1981. She inherited a program that was “basically night school for people working on part-time degrees and those who wanted to take the occasional course.”
UC San Diego Extension continues to offer a wide variety of classes on topics from art history to acting to computer technology. Throughout the years, tens of thousands of people have learned new skills—many of them crucial to their jobs—and discovered unknown talents.
Walshok has pushed for a greater role for UC San Diego Extension. “A big research university can help a community understand and interpret the forces that are changing our lives,” Walshok said.
One of her first tasks was to establish an advisory committee comprised of local leaders who would collaborate on creating curriculum for certification programs. Today, committee members include professionals from Sempra Energy, Qualcomm and Pfizer.
In addition to the career development programs, Walshok believes there are four spheres that research universities have to embrace: economic development, workforce development, international affairs, and civic culture. She highlights these frontiers in her latest book, “Invention and Reinvention: The Evolution of San Diego’s Innovation Economy.” Published last year by Stanford University Press and co-written with Abraham Shragge, the book explores San Diego’s century of transition into a world-class city that rewards innovation and reinvention.
As a result, she established public programs that would benefit the community. These programs are:
Walshok believes that all four of these programs are “the platform on what everything today (at UC San Diego Extension) is built.” Her vision for UC San Diego Extension continues to be a place for people with core values to solve problems and continue making a difference in their communities.
For information, visit extension.UC San Diego.edu