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How WCU is Making Higher Education Accessible for Adults on The Kooler Lifestyle Podcast #48

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00:00:00 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Because Western is the only online asynchronous program in the state to offer licensure. Greeley also does it UNC, but you got to drive to their campus to complete their course with. So we are it and that’s why we’re seeing obviously the growth that we’re seeing and it’s very exciting. Our average age is 41 years old in this program and the average credit amount is about 65 credits. So we’re talking about people are halfway done. Some have associate’s degrees. And then you know, we’ve been able to, we’ve been able to scholarship these licensure students up to 85%. It was the last time we went back to school and they knocked 85% off the bill. But we’re doing that because we have state support and we’re also now interacting with other organizations to line up, if you will, more support.

00:00:46 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work, and serve through my business, Kooler Garage Doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because community matters, and I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles. Our youth and our health. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn. Today, I have the pleasure and honor to sit down with Doctor Terry Shliesman. He’s the Director of the Adult Degree Completion and Professor of Communication Arts at Western Colorado University. Terry, good morning. How are you?

00:01:44 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Morning, Matt. Nice to see you again and I’m doing well. Thanks yourself.

00:01:49 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I’m doing really good. Tell me, where is your office located? Where are you beaming in from?

00:01:53 Dr. Terry Shliesman
I’m in Taylor Hall, one of the few perks faculty have left on this campus as far as, like, what we have control over is office space. And so over the years I’ve been able to command a pretty nice perch that overlooks the Taylor Quad lawn. And that’s where I’m broadcasting from the studios of Taylor 212 E, which also double s as my office.

00:02:18 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:02:19 Dr. Terry Shliesman

00:02:20 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Well, I’m excited to chat with you Terry. I know we’re going to get into a lot of the pieces that are kind of developing and and that we’re excited about it Western and I’ve known you over the years through various different roles. We had some shoulder rubbing going on at our local mentoring organization. And I’ve also known you because in your summer gig you’ve you’ve been a painter and I’ve got some painting history in the background too and and so that’s been really fun. I’m curious. I want to start us off with it. Kind of my typical question. I’m interested in know where you grew up.

00:02:54 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Oh, all right. You want to go that far back? It takes a little while for the needle to find the space on the on the desk here. Just a minute. Well, Matt, I I was raised in central Washington in a small agricultural valley, the kidded ass valley in Ellensburg, WA. So if you’ve traveled from Seattle, E, you’re on I-90 and you have to go through Ellensburg. To get to like Spokane and Idaho and Montana and all of that. So Ellensburg is a home of Central Washington University as well as some of the best hay in the world, Timothy hay, which is shipped all over the world. And so I was raised in a small town with a lot of culture because of some employers, but mostly the agricultural center of central Washington is located there and of course. Washington, Central Washington University. And that’s not a small university. That’s 9 to 12,000 students. And so that’s where I grew up. And yeah, you know, it’s, it was, I hate to say it, I mean, certainly a privileged. I had a privileged background. Once I got out into the real world and found out how lucky I was and how I was raised with the supportive family and, you know, middle class. My parents both worked for university and I was the middle of four children. And we were encouraged to do well in school to be active both in the community and in the cocurriculars and and I probably gravitated Matt Moore towards like the community through jobs. I remember very young like at age 13 and I feel very good about this today. My father didn’t just like write us checks and we had no allowance though we were taken care of. We had to go out and do things right and I know it sounds like I’m walking to school in five feet of snow and. And I’m eating large sandwiches for lunch, but it wasn’t quite that bad. But but he, he, he made us, if you will, in addition to the work we had to do around the house, we had to go get work if we wanted to earn money and we wanted to buy things. And so that was mowing yards. Then, very young, I think age 14, I started in the restaurant industry. So that has served me really well over the years, the notion that you got to wake up in the morning, you got to go get something as far as like wages. And those wages come through solving people’s problems. And I got that right away. So yes, I I can’t say I excelled as a student. I was a very average student, but I was very busy as a student. And what I mean by that is I was I wasn’t very serious about my studies. I was a major distraction for the teachers. And today I would spend probably most of my time at another type of school across the street with some long title associated with it. But basically, I was a troublemaker. And and I’m not proud of that but from that I learned a whole other way of sort of existing in this world. I was smart enough to stay out of like serious trouble. Somehow I avoided all that. But anyway and it’s enough so that today I avoid certain aisles in the grocery stores if my old teachers are in those aisles and and I think it’s because I’m in education now and I really pride myself for doing well in education. But I was at best to see minus student all the way up through about my. Oh, sophomore, junior year in college, which was Central Washington. I was fortunate. I stayed in the same town but lived across town and apartment. And yeah, so, you know, I mean, I was lucky I didn’t have to, like, fend for my life and worry about where my parents were. Or did I, you know, where are my parents? Who are my parents And I? And I, you know, I’ve thought about that many times. Like, why do we get certain structure in this world and why do we not get certain structure? Or certain opportunities. But I’ve I’ve obviously, I’ve been very grateful about that over my lifetime. Yeah. So what I love. Yeah, go ahead.

00:06:44 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What didn’t mean to?

00:06:45 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Cut you off but.

00:06:46 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What I love about what you’re sharing in.

00:06:48 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Front of me. So this give you a 40 minute question right here. Caffeine is kicking in.

00:06:58 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I get that. I’m I’m the same.

00:06:59 Dr. Terry Shliesman
What I what I love about.

00:07:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Your story and and this is something that just hit me. Just the other day with my own son. And you know, we do have this striation in our we have socioeconomic differences, right? And there is a piece where, you know, my message to listeners and I think this is resonating with how you were parented is like, don’t make it easy for your kids, right? There’s a choice. You don’t have to make it easy and in fact, don’t make it easy. My example. Like my son’s getting into what are they called the airline. Like he flies simulator.

00:07:39 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Yeah, sure. Good.

00:07:41 Matthew Kuehlhorn
For him, he’s flying planes on the simulator and you know, I’ve yet to go in and buy him everything that he wants and he’s just using free stuff online. But he really wanted to get the joystick and I was like, I’m not going to buy you a joystick, so. He ended up making one out of his Lego set and it’s freaking awesome. And then he made a second version of it that is even better because he wasn’t psyched with the actualization of it. And so at any rate, it just hit me. I was like, oh man, like I’m glad I didn’t make it easy for this kid because now he’s engaging his brain. He’s putting this engineering component together and and coming up with it. And I’m hearing the same thing to where don’t make it easy so that. You know, we could figure it out. There’s also some pieces around, you know, the seeds or the chick cracking out of the egg. And if we make it too easy, they’re not going to.

00:08:30 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Yeah. It’s a delicate balance and and I would really encourage what your sons do you’re man, you’re going to end up with flight benefits you’re going to look at from that perspective right I.

00:08:39 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:08:40 Dr. Terry Shliesman
You paid your dues. Now you get to travel the world. Sure, you’re up, You know, duct tape to the airplane wing, but you’re going to get to Hawaii for free. I can, Lauren. I can write a book. Standby flight. But no, you’re right. It’s like, how do we put opportunity in front of? And I don’t look at that as just our children. Of course, I’m an education and I don’t mean to say therefore, but our whole gig is how do we put enough challenge in front of a human to in essence, frustrate them and instill a little fear and yet enough support to lift them up and to rise to the occasion? And we can call the quiz a project, an internship, a conversation that happens in a hallway. All of it is about you got this, you can do this. Let’s go for I’m here to help. And that’s what we’re doing with our children every day. Right Though that would say somebody sappy. If I if I told that to my kids who are now long gone, not gone, gone, but they’re out of the house, I wouldn’t even get half through that statement. They’d be like heading downstairs to do something. So. It’s it’s an interesting role to mentor right to, to to have an impression on people. And we do it every single day in our walk of life. And obviously I’m a big advocate for leaving a positive impression behind if it’s possible. There are some people that don’t like me on this planet, maybe they’ll watch this podcast because I had to make hard decisions as manager. And you know, you know what that leads to for some people who aren’t working out. And I get it like I had, I dished out a lot of apps. But you know what? There was a fair chance and and most of the people I really enjoyed working with.

00:10:20 Luke
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00:10:53 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Can I give you one quick anecdote? We have a minute or two left. Don’t wait for this podcast.

00:11:03 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Oh yeah, yeah.

00:11:04 Dr. Terry Shliesman

00:11:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
We’re just getting started here.

00:11:05 Dr. Terry Shliesman
 I had a turning point, and I think everybody has some kind of turning point they can talk to. Maybe not. Maybe most people are on just a line of, like, what we call best fit in statistics, right? It’s just this beautiful, straight, linear piece That’s not my life. I had a a kick up in my junior year. Meaning like my potential went up, my sense of purpose went up. I was in an advertising class at Central Washington University. Matt and I was a marketing minor, so I had to have that advertising class along with all business majors. And I was also a broadcast journalism major. So the class that was dreaded was advertising from Charles Gwatney, who was a retired officer from the Vietnam War out of the Marines. And he actually came up with the Kawasaki led the good times role among other phrases that we still know today. He was in advertising after Vietnam and we were going through this ten week class and in about week six we had a major project that we had to be working on from week two to week 10, right. That kind of a project. And at week six I headed in to talk to my minor advisor who was not Gwatney. Stay with me, Matt, stay with me and I’m going down McConnell hall. And here comes Gwatney. Professor Gwatney with another student. And this is one of those classic, you know, academic buildings that are massive, right? And you can hear the steps coming and all of that. And he says, hey, Terry, I said, hello, Professor Gwatney. And the other students just suspended, of course, had to just like grovel. And Gwatney says, how’s that project coming along? And I said, I looked at him and I said, what’s going great? It’s fine. And there was this awkward pause and he said Shliesman. Can I cuss on this podcast or not? You can’t. And this is like, I’ve worn the whole audience, he said Shliesman. And maybe you’ve heard this. He said, you need to keep, you need to quit treating me like a mushroom. And it just echoed in my head. And yet it was very awkward. So I yeah, yeah, mushroom. I said something. I had some sound come out of my mouth and he looked at me very odd and he said, you don’t know what I mean by that, do you? You know? And you can imagine, like, it’s just painful. I said no, I don’t know. And he said the way you raise mushrooms is you put them in the dark and you surround them with horse shit and didn’t say anything after that. And he said, I want to see a mile for tomorrow morning, 8:00, o’clock. And I was. So I was there. I wanted, I had to pass class. It was my senior, no junior year, but I was a get trying to get the minor done. I go in and talk to him and he says Schleisman never called me Terry, right, Schleisman, always Schleisman. And he said, where are you at on this project? And I just said, you know, I’m not doing that well. I’m not really motivated. I appreciate the topic. I like advertising a lot, but I I haven’t really got started on this project yet. And he said, I want to make a prediction. You’re going to fail this class and you’re not going to do well on this project. What sickens me about you, I can still hear I’m hearing, say this. What sickens me about you is 3/4 of the world would like to have the opportunities you have. You make me sick. You’re a piece of shit. And he said that, man. He said you’re a piece of shit. Now get on my office. And I walked in and I just said nobody has the right to talk. And I was going to file a complaint. He had me like I was in his class. I had to have a class. And he said, you know, I’ll show you, right? And it became one of those I’ll show you moments. And he ended up being one of my closest mentors because of a he gave me some kind of right to succeed. Right. My dad was always there for me. My mother’s always there for me. But it wasn’t enough of a motivation for me to do well for some reason. Like, I couldn’t rise to the occasion just because of my parents. That’s odd to say because I of course adore them, but wanted to change my life. And from there I started taking like leadership roles on campus. I started doing better at work, even working harder than I had before, and my grades turned around. And of course that never changed all the way through Graduate School. And why did he taught me was? That the clock is ticking. Even when you’re young and you have to do well and you have to do well for the sake of doing well, It’s too easy to fall asleep at the wheel and just have an average existence. And that obviously has stuck with me. And I try to pass that along. So the C minus students I’ve worked with at Western wake me up because there’s another chance to make a difference, right? To change somebody’s life. And that really was like the most valuable moment, really. I mean, I have other moments I can talk about in my childhood. But most of them were on the on the other side of the law, right, Like narrowly escaping situations. But Watney, I’m I’m very pleased to say, you know, it turned out well and I did well in that class, but it’s only because I, I was going to prove it to him that he was categorically wrong about who I was and what I was going through. He was right, of course I had a lot of privilege that I didn’t appreciate. But anyway, so that’s a quick story. I know that’s very sappy, but it’s a true one and one that I I cherish.

00:15:59 Matthew Kuehlhorn
No, it’s. It’s, it’s.

00:16:02 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Beautiful lessons that we had to learn. The hard way to get on with our life. And so anyway, so that’s I’d sure like to leave the past behind us. I ended up going to Seattle. I worked in radio. I worked in radio for about four years. Really wasn’t that fond of radio, to tell you the truth. And I was on the business side, the sales side. I didn’t appreciate that type of work. Cold calling daytoday. It’s very difficult work and I admire people who do that. I didn’t have the fortitude. But I succeeded at it. Back in a small town in Seattle, I was lost, so I moved on. I got a master’s degree, went into corporate training with a big company called Expeditors. They’re importing, exporting based out of Seattle. The training thing was going to put me on the road a lot, and I had to go back and defend my thesis for my master’s. I was done with everything but just defending the document. And it was at that time another faculty member at Washington State University reached out and said, I’ve got the funding. If you want to continue teaching, let’s work on a PhD together. So we did, and I studied the way the Internet was being used in high schools and changing interpersonal communication patterns. So that was a PhD in sociology, education, computer science and communication. And from that I was hired at Gunnison as a professor in 98. Coming out of that right on. So, you know, that kind of takes us to the Gunnison days.

00:17:19 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. Have you always wanted to be in higher Ed? Is that something you were really honest? I.

00:17:24 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Want nothing to do with higher Ed. Morehead or anything to do with the classroom where where all of that changed is. I was kind of hitting a dead end with broadcasting and anybody who’s in broadcasting, more power to you. Ironically, I spent 20 years advising a radio station here at Western. But I just needed some options, Matt and and and I wanted to get into some kind of industry where I wouldn’t necessarily. Have to be piecemealing everything together. Like I wanted some stability. I had done quite a bit of restaurant work and all of that, you know, And then there’s nothing wrong with that. I just, I wanted something else. And so it was with that master’s degree, Matt. I was teaching classes in exchange for tuition and they throw a bag of potatoes of Laura and I, you know, every other week or so we get like, I don’t know, 500 bucks. I mean, it’s just minimum wage. But the big thing was they waived my tuition, which was thousands and thousands of dollars every year. And that’s where I got to stand in front of a class for the first time. I was standing in front of people, metaphorically and broadcasting. I was a class clown doing voices and all that crap. So it was nothing new to stand in front of people. But this was in a structured way, of course, right? With lesson plans and all. Yeah. So that’s where that started. And I and and then I really got the bug. You know it it doesn’t seem like much but when you. And then you expect me to say this, but when you reach into somebody’s sort of soul and impact them, that’s very contagious. And I think that happens at the employer employee level too. Like, it’s extremely contagious when you realize you are now perpetuating goodwill and in some of the most profound ways. And so I knew I’d be taken care of if I worked in the higher Ed. I’d never be rich, but it would be a good quality of life. And so at that point, I said I’m going to go for it. I’m going to go for the PhD because that’s tenure track, and tenure track leads to tenure and tenure leads to some stability. And that’s what all that was about. I I didn’t ever like, aspired to like write theory or to, you know, command sessions at conferences and write books. That was never my MO. It was really to get in front of students and to teach. And that’s what Western’s all about.

00:19:35 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I love this. Let’s.

00:19:38 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Glad you do. Because I just listening to myself.

00:19:44 Matthew Kuehlhorn
What I what I enjoy about this is almost the attack on average. And I think a lot of us can fall into average and it can be a quote, UN quote comfortable place, even though we might be uncomfortable on some certain level. And it is those people, those experiences that challenge us in any given moment. And I know you recognize this and I’ve seen it. Throughout my years as a receiver of this, but also as a provider of this, and it’s a gift on both ends, to be that moment, to bring it real, and it’s an opportunity for that person to to grow and to shift.

00:20:24 Dr. Terry Shliesman

00:20:24 Matthew Kuehlhorn
And it’s and it’s really, really beautiful. What is happening at Western that we’re excited about and how is this kind of furthering? The mission of of going against average, if you will.

00:20:36 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Yeah. Well, some of the more visible stuff that people are seeing in this valley, of course. And what President Baca is rightfully touting is our new engineering program. And I’m not involved directly with that, but thanks to the generous gift of Mr. Rady, we have a new program in cooperation with CU Boulder. I’m sure you know about this program. It’s a cooperative, which kind of blows people’s minds. But it’s happened in higher Ed just about everywhere where we work with CU Boulder students who wouldn’t have normally gotten in because of capacity in Boulder. And we work with them through general education and some of their earliest education classes as Western faculty. And then they work with CU Boulder faculty right here on campus in in pursuing their engineering degrees. Now that’s all happening in the Rady building, which is also an asset to this community, you know, forty $50 million building on campus. So that’s exciting. Our graduate programs have grown categorically and of course we don’t see that in this valley much because it’s a lot of it is online enrollment. And so it doesn’t have the same impact directly right on people moving in as students and shopping and all that. But of course all of their tuition and fees and all that stay sort of in the valley. And some of those graduate programs do, by the way, have a residency component to it where they’re required to come to campus. And then, you know, we’re making inroads with the new strategic plan. It’s still under draft stage, but I think you’re going to see in the next three to four years some very exciting new academic programs that we’re exploring possibly, you know, in the realm of medicine, I’m not saying a medical doctor’s program, but maybe some fields that are affiliated with the the growing shortage of medical employees. There’s that. I think we’re doing a lot on campus right now with DEI measures, right. And that is extremely important. It’s it’s been, it’s the last eight years have been very interesting for Western. I’m just going to leave it at that. We had a leadership style that was pretty ambitious but also rough on relationships here on campus. And I I think anybody who lives in the Valley is aware of this. I don’t want to dismiss or to denigrate the leadership. That we previously had, I think that we had some strong points to that leadership, that administration and we had some parts that were sort of almost everlasting threatening or damaging and and what we’re talking about is just respect and trust for each other on campus. Now that can go too far sometimes and we don’t get our tasks done. All we’re dealing with is touchy feely and that real and I’m not in I’m not on that side either but for someone who’s been in Western for quite a while, I certainly can recognize. Changes that are happening and some that are not so positive. So I’m glad to say that with President Baca’s leadership, we’re mending some of that relationship. It does take a while for that to happen. We have a new Vice President for inclusivity and that’s that’s quite a commitment when you start building out that structuring organization and and we’re moving forward on DEI measures as part of our strategic plan and that’s that’s amazing. The area I’m in, Matt, and I didn’t start with this because I think there’s a bigger perspective on Western. It’s not just about one single program on campus, right. It’s the entire operation. But for me, it’s the adult degree completion program. We started this as a concept five years ago. It came out of the previous strategic plan that we really need to do more in the digital domain in the name of education. Now that’s not Our Calling card. As you know, we’re a residence campus. People have for 100 years have packed up their cars, traveled to Gunnison and have stayed here for 469 years or longer. Right in Gunnison and and and that’s a wonderful thing. We don’t want to dismiss the the, the, the ecosystem in which we operate in, right? We’re all here. Many of us are here for that reason. But the trends in higher Ed have shifted, my friend. And fewer and, and this is what Dr. Salisbury was talking about a lot. The fewer and fewer high school graduates are interested in that residential experience. And I don’t have the percentages memorized, but there’s been a shift to local urban schools, right. And that’s concerning, right. That should be concerning for everybody in this valley if you care about our economics. So Western can’t sit here and just look at those statistics and those growth charts or or you know, the enrollment numbers. We’ve got to be doing some things and that’s what it that’s what the digital piece is about like hey, where else can we grow our expertise, where else can we deliver what we do well. And so one of three ideas in that strategic plan was an adult degree completion program. I was fortunate enough to be working as an associate vice president. That’s those are terms that we fill as faculty and Dr. Neemi Golini asked me to write a concept paper, a business proposal basically, which it did. That proposal was tabled for two years. It didn’t bother me. I went off and cheered our department again. And then when I came back, Doctor Nimi said I’d like you to to launch this. And so we started it by devising curriculum that was around a business communications major, right? So it’d be fitting someone who’s in business and interested in the basics of business as well as digital productions. And then we brought in a second major called the general studies. And we do that for flexibility like people come in and they’ve got all this credit and don’t know what to make of it. They’re mostly interested in finishing that degree and getting that certificate so they can move on with their career. And a general studies program serves you well in that way, kind of an Ala carte program, right. So we started in year one. We picked up about 1/2 a dozen business column majors right away. That was last year and then a year ago we launched a. General studies focus with licensure. So now we’re pairing general studies with a licensure unit in education targeting paraprofessionals, what you and I call AIDS. In K12. When I was young, they were called AIDS. Today they’re called paraprofessionals. So they’re working full time in school districts. And about 22,000 Coloradans have this job called paraprofessionals, man. Some of them are what’s called some college. Or some credit and no degree. They started school, but they didn’t finish. So we’re here to help them finish the degree. And then they work through our education department in the licensure unit in a classroom in their school district and then they move into a teacher rule. So all of this is digital. It’s all asynchronous, meaning we have no live moments in the program. Nobody has to be anywhere at one particular time until they get to their licensure. They have to be in the classroom when classes meet, obviously. I’m talking about K12 classes, not our classes, right. So we’re now that program went from zero students a year ago to were fifty around 50 students right now just under 50. So it’s really taken off and what’s most exciting is we have these third parties, call them state entities, capital investment groups and nonprofits that are interested in workforce advancement. So now we’re interacting with them saying how do we ramp this up. Because Western is the only online asynchronous program in the state to offer licensure. Greeley also does it UNC, but you got to drive to their campus to complete their coursework. So we are it and that’s why we’re seeing obviously the growth that we’re seeing and it’s very exciting. Our average age is 41 years old in this program and the average credit amount is about 65 credits. So we’re talking about people who are halfway done. Some have associate’s degrees. And then you know we’ve been able to, we’ve been able to scholarship these licensure students up to 85%. It was the last time we went back to school and they knocked 85% off the bill. But we’re doing that because we have state support and we’re also now interacting with other organizations to line up, if you will, more support. I have a little bit of a problem with that because I think everybody should have some skin in the game and should be paying something for education. That’s my personal view. I don’t believe in things that are free. I I think it’s quickly exploited. Personally, I don’t have a lot of evidence, right. It’s just my the way it has raised, you might say, but so I I don’t have a problem charging the students something. But these are people that are making on average below $35,000 a year. So we’ve got to recognize that. And the two constructs that stand in the way map are finances and life meaning feasibility of going back to school. And we have now addressed both of them. So naturally we’re seeing rapid growth in our program. So that’s why I’m excited.

00:29:23 Matthew Kuehlhorn
About this is amazing.

00:29:24 Dr. Terry Shliesman
I’m excited about it. ADC, right is a shorthand for that, and anybody wants to live more? If it’s right? Very straightforward. And that takes us.

00:29:35 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Let me, let me summarize. Let me summarize, Terry, so I can make sure I get this and that the listeners get this. But this adult degree completion, it is a real innovation that is giving. I mean Western is at the forefront of this and it’s serving. Students around the state that need to complete whatever it is they may have started in the past and life gets in the way. Finances get in the way and this is a true resource. It hits me because you know, when I was growing up, my parents divorced when I was in 7th grade and it was shortly thereafter that my mom put herself through school to get her CP.

00:30:14 Dr. Terry Shliesman

00:30:15 Matthew Kuehlhorn
And and I was so impressed. I’ve always carried that because. She was working full time you know myself and my my sister and she was a grinder and and so it’s it’s just speaking to my heart in that sense because it does allow for adults who may be parents and it’s it’s again getting back to this this you know this loop of average and it’s an opportunity to be above average right and to piece it together get licensure that can then. Increase pay, increase lifestyle and and all the ripples that can happen after.

00:30:53 Dr. Terry Shliesman
That’s right. And where it’s going Matt, next step for us is like the open house which I don’t want to date this because this may you may release this four years from now this production who knows of because of something I said and you just want it to sort of pass over. But we we have that out open house that’s going on next week that represents we’re trying to engage business leaders and to say look. Think about investing in your staff. Think about, I mean, it may not be a bachelor’s degree, maybe it’s a certificate. What do you need as leadership to build your organization? And how do we meet you at the place where everybody is content with that, right? And so we’re trying to work with employers to say, can we tailor some things here that might fit the needs of your organization? Now, we can’t rule out 35 different certificates Willy nilly. You know, I don’t want to mislead you, but we don’t have to always offer like the big block called the major. It can be a 12th credit certificate and accounting, like what your mother, your mother had the CPA which is like the the, the Full Monty, that’s the big burrito. But you know what about two to three classes in accounting, in one class in finance or you know, just like quantitative illiteracy in business or. I don’t marketing or we got digital courses on campus. I mean, there’s all these things that we can do and we don’t need to travel to a space to get this done. So we’re trying to move beyond what we’re doing like an education that’s good and we expect that to grow. We’d like to push that to 100 to 200 students in the next couple years. And that’s by working with school districts directly and having them bring in cohorts of paraprofessionals, so groups of 456 students from their district. Come to Western and those students have to be in their 40s and 50s or 30s, but they’re still students and they have each other for support. But now we’re looking at the Highway 50 quarter and saying, well, how do we work with employers in the same way so that we can package educational products that move their organization forward and increase retention for their employees, minimize turnover. That’s going to come at a cost. There’s a price for education, but we think we’ve priced this at very low levels, right. The average out there is about 300 to 600 per credit and we’re hovering around 3:50 including fees per credit and that’s what’s no scholarship, that’s just like sticker price. So, so you know, I mean we can, that’s the great thing about a little program like this. We we’re a little more malleable than the big programs on campus and we can sit down with some little coffee and say. Yeah, We we may not have this ready for you next week, but let’s talk about trying to move your organization forward through one of the things Western can do, which is the expertise, the lessons that we teach in these different disciplines. They may be helpful, they may not. And and, and and that that moves us quite a ways away from our liberal arts mission. I’m going to pause here for a case you want to edit this out. Okay, good. There’s the edit cut right there. But liberal arts means a lot in this day and age. It’s not just a hokey and it’s definitely not politics. We are not talking about moving to the left side of the spectrum. Liberal arts is a cross training of discipline and we’ve had it for hundreds of years in higher education. We are very proud of this, that you get a degree but you’re also able to understand political science, the arts, right? How to build an experiment in a science class. How to appreciate the cocurriculars on a campus and someone stepping forward and playing a role in something. All of this is going on in a kind of a learning lab and that’s not a DC doesn’t really go there right. We are much more like design it, fit it in organization and help the organization. We’re much more like market directed and a much more practical look at education. And I’m lucky with that. It doesn’t change Western’s mission to serve Coloradans with higher education.

00:34:55 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Beautiful. So we’ve got the pretty buddy that wants to learn more. Yeah, actually we’ll include, we’ll include those notes in our in our show notes for sure. And you know, Terry, here’s a question for you and it gets a little bit more personal and I think it would be a great way to summarize our conversation. It’s kind of a combined question because. In one way I’m interested to know, and I’ve got a little bit of a sense through the years and and through this conversation of what drives you, what do you get up for in the morning? And the second end of this question is, you know, at your level in the career now, what do you see as the legacy? What are you building? What are you leaving for the other generations?

00:35:46 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Well, I appreciate the question to begin with because we all think about these things and if. And if not check the pulse. I I just, I firmly believe that we’re all-purpose driven. You know, I don’t want to say this is me 24/7. Go ask Laura. She teaches at the high school. She’s available and she’ll tell you I have my off days and I have my down time. I have my time when I just want to be maybe with my 2 springers out bird hunting by myself. I don’t, you know, I’m not always this gregarious and and that’s fine. It sort of recharges my batteries. We’re hiking or fly fish or whatever it is that we’re doing. But you know, the question is, you know what? What makes me jump out of bed in the morning? I think we’ve talked about it in this this program so far, but it’s the idea that that people are malleable, the people around us are malleable and and and we’re going to have quality of life if we have community. And I believe that to my roots. That whether that is a town of 50 or a city of 1,000,000 humans are destined to build community. And I don’t. I’m not cut out to be a, you know, City Council or one of the county committee. I you know, that’s not I’m, I’m not interested in serving that way and I applaud those who do. But I am interested in a cross section of a community of getting my, you know, getting my experiences through some of the nonprofit, some of the galas. Rita Merrigan, a retired teacher. She and I own a labor negotiations consulting firm with school districts mostly, You know, I mean, I enjoy staying active because it isn’t like, morbid. But this is like my time to make an impression. And it’s, I don’t want anything returned. Like I’m just wired this way that ultimately when it’s all said and done, like. That’s what we had is a chance to interact and to, if you will impress upon one another our values, right and and for better or worse. I don’t want to go to what’s happening sort of at a national level right now. But but you know in the end of the day I think many of us are searching for a sense of place and community and of course Gunnison offers that. That’s why we’ve stayed here. We left for one year but we were brought back because of this community. I was lucky enough to get a a a promotion at Western but. That’s what motivates me Matt is the idea that in the in, in this crazy mix called the life that we are able to impact one another. And that sounds pretty nebulous. But we’ve all figured out how to get that done and even going overboard and like stretching ourselves too far and having to pull back. And and I I’m certainly guilty of that. Like why am I doing all of this? But that’s it. I mean, I think that’s it. And I and you know, I have a good friend of mine, Mike Mujeko, he always razzes me about being a do gooder and being like trying to be the community St. and yet I think he gets it. Like I’m just wired this way and and I say all of that and yet I’ve had my own sort of hiatus from volunteering in this community, right. I just got to the point where I just needed to step back. I’m now sort of reengaging a little more but that’s kind of what. What I guess it’s all about, I enjoy interacting with people. I am one of those that keeps you in City Market for another 5 minutes. I’m proud of. I’m proud of that. And I was raised that way. Like, you know, it’s important to, it’s important to take care of one another. And I say that, and I know that I have flipped the bird to as many people as anyone else in town. So I don’t want to be hypocrite and I certainly am not sanely. I’m definitely not wholly. And and yet if if you know me well enough you know that I do have a good heart. And and many people in this valley have a good heart and that’s what keeps this place so incredibly attractive is the community and the people. And I I don’t think that’s over the top. I think that’s very true and you see that in our events you know on on Main Street with a with a not parade damn. I almost have parade of lights the street of lights and you know. You know, you see it like it’s there and it’s it’s really a cool thing. So I’m glad that Laura and I have had the chance to have a role in that over the last 2 1/2 decades or whatever it’s been, Yeah, so that’s.

00:40:15 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I certainly appreciate it. Yeah. In Interior, your heart is gold. I love the innovation that’s being developed over at Western. I think it’s important you you alluded to the fact of how. Economically important Western is to our entire county and the community fabric. So I just want to give a shout out to you the team over there. I think it’s, I think it’s super good to look at the changing times and to be able to Evan Flow and I really enjoy this conversation, Terry.

00:40:46 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Likewise, Matt, good luck with you. Good luck with Kooler, and thanks for sponsoring the series. I think it’s incredibly bold. And you know, and I mean this in the right way, the the right thing to do for community, so hats off to you for thinking this way and I appreciate you having me on the show today.

00:41:04 Matthew Kuehlhorn
My pleasure. Yeah, the conversations feel me. Man, you enjoy a great day.

00:41:08 Dr. Terry Shliesman
Thanks man.

00:41:09 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. We count on your subscriptions, your likes, your shares, and I encourage you to do that. Now, if you’re watching on YouTube, go ahead and subscribe lower Right hand button. If you’re on audio, download this, share it, and we look forward to having you on the next one.