✅ CE isn’t an ATM, we are an investment bank.
✅ We are partners with our on-campus colleagues to bring the newest, most innovative programs to campus.
✅ A digital backpack or universal passport for their badges or credentials is so important for students to show what they’ve successfully learned. ✅ We can be entrepreneurial on campus outside of education.
We are all in the education field, but in CPE, we are in the education business too.
I know, sometimes it is hard to read that and say it out loud. But the reason I started in Continuing Education was because it linked the education, community and business world so closely.
In episode 2 this season, I talk to Kim McNutt who may understand this thinking better than anyone in our space. His ability to innovate in the badge and credentials space, while simultaneously building a separate business for the community on campus is incredible.
Kim says, “I get to serve a population that is underserved, the underdog and they’re scrappy and they’re feisty and they want to give back to their community. So I want to provide them the tools, the academic and education tools, for them to be successful supporting their communities.”
Isn’t that why we all started in this CPE world?
Join us and listen to an incredible journey from street beat news reporter to the CSU Dominguez Hills CPE Dean’s desk as Kim shares his journey and what he has done on campus, in the community, and with badges and credentials.
And finally, we are trying to grow our Continuing Education’s only global Slack group. Reach out to me directly and I will add you!
Meni: Hey, I’m Meni Sarris and this is the Education Beyond Degrees podcast with The Spur Group, the podcast where a continuing education geek goes behind the scenes to talk shop about the people, trends, and ideas impacting our space.
In today’s episode we have Kim McNutt. He’s the Dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Education at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Hey, Kim, how’s it going?
Kim: Very good, Meni. Good to see you.
Meni: Thank you so much for joining us on this podcast, and I am really excited to talk to you about what you’ve been doing in Dominguez Hills and kind of your, your journey to where you are today. For those of you, again, Kim is the Dean of College and Continuing Professional Education at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
From a news reporter to a dean, I absolutely love your journey. Thank you so much again.
Kim: No, thank you. Meni. Yeah, it was quite a unexpected turn of events. I don’t think anybody in their high school years or even in college has a goal of, you know what? Someday I’m going to be a dean of a college of continuing and professional education after having started a career for nine years, actually a long time in television news,
Meni: I’m actually excited. This podcast might actually sound professional since you have the skills to to do recordings.
Kim: I’m putting on my announcer voice. How’s that?
Meni: I love it. I absolutely love it. I always like asking the question when, your family or friends asks, Hey, what, what do you do?
How do you typically answer what you do for a living?
Kim: You know, that’s a really good question, Manny, because a dean of a business school or dean of a college of education it’s a little bit more cut and dried. And you’re right, it is more of a thoughtful process for an elevator pitch when someone asks me what I do as the dean of of the College of Continuing and Professional Education.
Because we really span the spectrum of education. I call it K through 100, lifelong learning. So whatever a person needs for professional development upskilling, reskilling, job training maybe they haven’t finished their undergraduate degree yet. Maybe they have and they want to pursue a master’s degree.
And so we offer all of those things that we have a portfolio of more than 50 different programs. Whether it’s education and training in my college, and I tell folks that it’s people that come to us that can’t really enroll in a conventional university process, you know, going to school Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday from 10 to 1130.
Our main sweet spot for student customers typically are working adults, mid career professionals, folks that really want to move up in the world, move up in their job or even change careers. So. It’s the full spectrum of lifelong learning. Again, we really focus on education and training. I think you’ve heard me say this before, Meni.
I always try to personalize it. I tell folks. In terms they can understand, I say we really are the iPhone of higher ed, meaning, you know, your iPhone is your airline ticket. It’s your GPS. It’s your voice recorder. It’s your video recorder. It’s your camera. It’s your maps. It’s your calculator. It’s your phone.
It’s everything. Well, that’s what our college is as well. It’s a one stop shop for the most part, and really no matter what a person needs for career advancement, upskilling, reskilling, they can come to us. So that’s, it’s a long winded answer, but that’s typically how I like to respond and try to paint a picture in their minds about what we do.
So how did you get here? How do you go from news reporter to education to continuing education? And obviously, I know from all of our conversations how much you love what our industry does, but how did your journey bring you here?
That’s a really good question. As I was going to college at my alma mater, New Mexico State University, I befriended a good friend of mine who was getting his engineering degree, his name was Jeff Beasley, and I was working at the campus television station, and we actually got to produce a nightly newscast at six o’clock, completely student run. I got to anchor the evening sports at six o’clock, and Jeff was working behind the scenes, and this is, we’re both students at the time.
He was working in the engineering office of the TV station, and after I graduated and he went on to his Ph. D. In electrical he and I maintained a rela over the years and about news business. He reac said, hey, Kim, I’m going education program an We got a huge grant and i He said, we’re going to p courses over television. We’re going to broadcast He said, I can build the engineering facility. I can build the satellite infrastructure because of his double E background. But he said, what I don’t have is someone who can help with training faculty to teach in front of television, you know, microphones, lights, video equipment, all of that.
And at the first I said, Jeff, you’re crazy. There’s no way I’m going to do that. I don’t, I don’t know anything about higher ed, have no interest in that. Well he kept after me. So in year nine, he reached out to me again and said, Hey, Kim, we’re getting ready to launch this thing and, and get this facility built.
I’d like to have you come in for an interview and let’s talk about it. So long story short, I went and interviewed with him, met a lot of the key faculty that were going to be a part of the satellite TV engineering program. And I thought, you know what, I’m going to do this and fell in love with higher ed ever since I spent nine years there and then over a 30 year career in higher ed. I’ve worked at several publics and privates across the US, but absolutely love this space that we’re in. As you know, you and I talk about this a lot. I found my tribe as a good friend. Jenni Murphy from Sac State always says, I love the people in this space. I love the students we serve.
And I love the opportunity that we have. So that’s how I went from TV news into higher ed. And then of course television courses transitioned into online, internet that sort of thing.
Meni: We call it, you get bitten by the bug of CE. Once you typically don’t know about it until you’re in it. And then once you’re in it, you just realize the impact that you’re making on your community and it just, this combination of education and business and community is the thing that I always tell people is the most enjoyable part of our job because you don’t just have to be an educator. If you like business or if you like community outreach or community service or working with, you know, you said K to 100.
If you like working with kids, you can do it. If you like working with the senior population, you could do it. I always tell people you should try CE because the chances of you loving it is so high because there’s so much you can do there.
Kim: You’re right, Meni. And I appreciate you putting a fine point on it.
Because we, and you and I have talked many times, CE units are really at the leading edge of what’s happening in higher ed. We’re the pioneers, we’re out in front, you know, we’re the scouts out ahead of the pack. And as we’ve seen on the dark side of higher ed, you know, you see these reports. In Northern California, this was announced last week, a small private Catholic in Oakland is going to be shuttering.
You’re seeing more and more small privates in the Northeast close down or merge. But CE is really insulated for the most part because of that, because we’re nimble, we’re adaptable we can meet workforce needs. We can create new master’s degrees, new degree completion programs at the bachelor’s or for folks that need upskilling or reskilling you know, at a faster pace, we can create training programs credentials to serve these populations so that they can get out in and get that job right away.
So it’s not having to wait four or five, six years. To earn a bachelor’s degree through a traditional university process, but maybe we can speed the process to do that. So I never worry about what’s happening. Although enrollments are down slightly, but not as you, as we’ve talked before, that some universities are greatly impacted.
But you just, you can just read the higher ed press and even the, the regular news and you can see some small universities just aren’t, aren’t gonna make it.
Meni: When people hear this episode, they’re gonna be asking, okay, how does he do all of this? And I know the answer is because not only are you great at what you do, but you also have a great relationship with your boss and the administration at your institution.
And we know how far that goes in getting things done. Talk to us a little bit about what you did to cement that good relationship. What kind of sparked that really working? And also, I’m going to nudge you here to talk about the the other ventures you’ve done on campus that are pretty successful that bring additional revenue, but talk to us about that relationship you have with administration and how important that is to be successful.
Kim: A really good question. Meni. I’m very fortunate to work. I do report to the provost and vice president for academic affairs and he has been a staunch ally and supporter since the day he landed at Dominguez Hills. And I was quick to get an audience with him and explain to him what we do.
I invited him down to our college. I did a PowerPoint presentation. I showed him all of the different myriad programs that we do. That really do fit into that K through 100 lifelong learning model and we’ve been very successful doing that and meeting the needs of the workforce. And I started to tell him to about my interest in moving forward into the micro credential and digital badging space.
And he became really like almost awestruck, you know, and was very, admiring about what we were doing here, but it was a really good relationship initially from the get go. And frankly, our college delivers on a lot of what we do a lot of units promise, but we actually deliver as a unit and he sees that he appreciates that.
And I’ve done such a good job. And this is, you know, a little bit of a humble brag here. Of nurturing this relationship, and he sees the value of what we do in CE how it can help the broader university, the traditional side of the house where we can start up new programs and after a while, like a spinoff company and what we’ve done, we’re starting to launch new degree programs but after we stand them up, we’ll migrate them back to stateside or main campus so that they can be embedded in the traditional side of the university. And then part two because of our successful relationship and our successful track record, the provost worked with the president. I met with the president and I am the only dean at our college at Cal State Dominguez Hills that serves on the president’s cabinet.
It’s not the Dean of the Business School it’s not the Dean of the Arts and Humanities College, it’s not the Dean of Education, because the President also sees the value of what we bring to the table and how we can help the University. I see us as supplemental and additive to the University of, again, being the test kitchen.
We can launch new ideas, test new programs out, and after we stand them up, as I mentioned earlier, Migrate them back to the traditional university setting, and then it’s incumbent upon my college, my team, to go out and constantly be surveying the marketplace of saying, okay, what should we be doing next? What’s on the horizon? But it has been absolutely key. As I touched on earlier, I’ve worked at six different universities over a 30 year career. And this is absolutely the best working relationship I’ve had with my provost and vice president for academic affairs. And he sees what we’ve been doing, and he encourages our success because he sees how we’re helping our students, the college, and ultimately the university.
Meni: I interviewed… A president last year, and one of the questions that I asked him was if a continuing education dean came up to you and was trying to ask for more funding or ask for more hiring or tell you something that would wow you as a president, what would that be? And. His answer was, “you know, it’s about what impact they’re having.”
And that was surprising to me because a lot of the conversations we deal with when it comes to continuing a professional education is revenue based. When you’re talking to your provost or to any type of administrator at Dominguez Hills, where do you see the most important fact or talking point that you bring into those discussions.
Is it revenue? Is it impact? Is it community? What do you find to be the most powerful tool for you?
Kim: When I first came on board, I used to really emphasize, and I’m in my eighth year now at Dominguez Hills, I used to emphasize revenue as the number one key performance indicator. But over time, you actually touched on the other key aspects of impact and serving the community.
And by that, I mean our student community. I used to say that most presidents view C. E. And successful C. E. Units like ours is as A. T. M. S. That they would see us as a place to come and say, Hey, I need to withdraw Kim and resourced. And what I frankly now have changed that discussion around, and I’ve changed the vernacular of saying, you know, don’t view my college as the university ATM.
Use us as an investment bank. Let’s come up with some ideas. Let’s partner with the faculty and the different academic units on campus, entrepreneurial faculty, and say, let’s work together. I’ll invest some money in marketing. I’ll invest some money in curriculum development, instructional design. I can do that.
Thank you. And then we’ll develop a partnership that over time, we’ll pay ourselves back and you know, we’ll develop a new program together. So, and then it’s also serving the community. Are we serving the, our students here in the L. A. area, which is where Dominguez Hills is. We’ve discovered that most of our graduates.
work within a 30 mile radius of this campus. So these aren’t folks that come here, get a get a degree and then move to another state. They stay in their local community. They want to, they want to make a difference in Carson, Compton, Hawthorne, Torrance. Long Beach, and I love that, too, because we’re really working within the California master plan of creating and sustaining the middle class in California.
So that’s really what the CSUs are designed to do, and even more so what we do in CE units. So it really is all three. It’s revenue and it’s impact, And it’s also serving the community.
Meni: I want everybody who just heard this line. I think you should actually trademark what you just said, Kim. Look at us as an investment bank, not an ATM.
For all of you deans out there and anybody who’s listening on how to pitch this, that line right there might be one of the best lines I’ve ever heard on how to discuss when the topic of revenue comes up with your administrators. Kim, that was an awesome line. I absolutely love it. You should make it a bumper sticker in the trade market because it’s that good. And
Kim: I got to say, I actually didn’t steal that or borrow it. I came with up without myself. And so I’ll again, do another humble brag, but again, it really did come from angst. Meni I’ll be honest with you. I used to I’ve dealt, this is my second president had a lot of deans.
I’ve had been through three or four provosts and they would come to us and they would see that we were generating revenue. And I want to be clear for the audience that my college is 100 percent self support, meaning we don’t receive any state funding from Governor Gavin Newsom or the Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach.
All of the monies that our college generates to pay our salaries, our marketing, Our cost recovery for, you know, accessing stateside services are generated by students paying tuition to come to our college. So we, we have to be very savvy and we have to have tremendous financial and business acumen to do that.
But again, I used to take umbrage when folks would say, hey, Kim, we need a million dollars to plug a, and the resource gap on campus. And of course, being a good citizen. It’s not my money. We’d say, Here you go. We transfer the funds. But then what I’ve started to change the thinking on campus, primarily through the provost and then up ultimately to the president and the cabinet was to say, I don’t mind providing you these funds.
But let’s work together and invest in programs together where there’s there’s a reciprocal arrangement where the university gets something our students get something and my college gets something. So there’s Thank you. A proportional return to our college, which would incentivize our team to go out and do more of this.
So I appreciate you picking up on that phrase, and it seems to have caught on on campus where they’re not using us as an ATM, but said, Hey, Kim, we have some ideas for some new projects. Let’s talk about this. Let’s put some money in this together and then let’s see what happens.
Meni: And you have a great team And you’ve been crushing it with your programs for years now and I think you know your the time you spent investing in figuring out the right programs and Figuring out current trends and what’s working is really paying off in everything that you’re doing and one of the things that I see Dominguez Hills and your in your area doing very very well is micro credentials and badging and I have to Hats off to all the work that you’ve done the last few years in this because you saw it early on You caught it before it became a trendy word and you’ve been really really figuring out and honing in on what you can do to serve your community and You know, outside of your community.
So take us back a little bit. What, what really got you into focusing so heavily on micro credentials and badging.
Kim: First, I appreciate the praise. And thank you. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. So I’ll try to give it a Cliff Notes version of why I was so fascinated and got our college and others now to buy into the micro credential and digital badging concept.
So we all know that badges started with, say, the military or if you were a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout or an Eagle Scout, you know, for all your activities, you would get a little badge that would signify what it was you did. It was a marker of achievement and accomplishment, right? So as I got involved in this five or six years ago, I started researching it, and I want to be clear.
There’s a lot of universities that are developing micro credentials, but that’s not what we did here at Cal State Dominguez Hills. I was taking existing training programs that are typically short courses in nature, like for OSHA, you know, occupational safety and health. Construction management, project management, HR.
So I took an existing portfolio of courses, and of course we always issue a paper, handwritten, hand signed certificate to the person that has earned it. But I said, there’s got to be another way to convey that. So we started migrating all of our programs and issuing not only the paper certificate of achievement or accomplishment, but started issuing a digital version of that.
And then providing that badge and micro credential to the student so that they would have both. And where it helps the student is now they can post it on Instagram, social media accounts like LinkedIn. They can send it to an employer as a electronic portfolio to say, look, I’ve earned the certificate in project management, and then what we started focusing on, too, was to not only get that badge, but to click on it, it opens up, and then the META data shows you the learning outcomes, the course description, what was, what did the student learn in this?
So that the employer or the potential employer that this badge is being shared, the credential, can say, wow, I see what many has learned in this class versus when I graduated college and I look at my transcript and I’m going back 35, 40 years now. And it said, Kim, you got a B in history, U. S. history.
That’s all it says. A B in history. But what, what did I learn from that class? There’s nothing that, that validates or reminds me of what it is I’ve done. So what we’ve done is take existing programs, issue digital micro credentials and badges to help students share that knowledge with others. So the next step for us is, and these have been wildly accepted by our students, we have about an 85 percent claim rate from students, meaning the student has to opt to accept that and they see the value in that. And then we can also see the share rate, meaning where did they share that digital credential and badge and with whom most of it is, or with employers to show this is what this person has done the next step for us. And there’s, it goes by many names, but we’re now looking at creating comprehensive learning records.
A simpler term is a digital backpack or a digital wallet. I’ve talked to a young a young man that refers to it as a universal passport. So we want to be able to have our students capture the badge and digital credential in a universal place. Over an entire 30 or 40 year working career and and save it, store it but more importantly, share it with anyone as they go through their entire 40 year career and additionally earned degrees and or training. So that’s the next step for us is not only issuing micro credentials, digital badges and again, not creating new ones, but using it as a marker as a vessel of information that can be shared.
And the next step for us is Giving that student a comprehensive learning record that can be validated. It can be trusted, can’t be hacked and be able to have a lifelong record of what they’ve learned versus what I have is a traditional paper transcript, which is much like we did back in 1522, right?
With the monks signing a transcript under a candlelight.
Meni: That makes so much sense. So. Talk, talk me through the process. When do you determine to, you know, add a badge to a program or create a micro credential? What is actually making that decision for you?
Kim: Well, initially it was a pilot phase through our college, and you bring up a really good point.
I wanted to prove the model in my college first as the test kitchen of the university because I knew there was going to be critics. I knew there was going to be doubting Teresa’s and doubting Thomas’s that would cross their arms and go, I’m not so sure about that. That sounds like a fad, just like the MOOCs were a fad.
And so what I was able to do was, Test the system, test the process, do a proof of concept, and now it’s being more widely accepted across the university. So now more faculty are getting involved. So some of the faculty, what we’re doing is. Once a student completes one of their courses, that course can be converted into a digital micro credential or digital badge. And it also is almost like the gamification of higher ed. And I don’t think it’s such a bad thing, but it’s also an incentive for students. So when they complete a class, They earn the digital credential and the digital badge. It’s an incentive to continue on, just like a video game.
They say, wow, I’ve earned this, this trinket, this charm, this extra 50 points. I’m going to continue to earn additional badges through the system. So we’re getting more wide adoption, wider adoption of digital credentials on campus. And again, we’re really now the next step for us too, is to getting the workforce involved.
Industry to say. We, we see the value now in receiving a digital credential or digital badge from a student that’s applying for a job. In addition, I want to be clear about this too. In addition to their degree, it’s supplemental. It’s not to supplant it. And I do have one success story I’ll tell you about it as well.
There’s a young student that actually worked in my college. He was an audio visual student, and he was earning his computer science degree here at Dominguez Hills. Well, as he started working in our college, he didn’t know what extended ed was or continuing ed was, but as he come came to understand what we do, he saw the value of some of these non credit training programs.
Well, he signed up for a few of the courses that we offered in computer science. And he started to do a few on his own through Google and Amazon Web Services, and he earned six or seven micro credentials, some through our college and some through external vendors. Well, he coupled that with his degree.
When he graduated, he was hired by Amazon. They moved him from California to Staten Island, New York, helped him pay for his apartment, and gave him a big fat salary because They saw the value of what he had, not just the computer science degree, but the additional certifications, the industry specific certs that he used to augment his degree, and he is a fantastic poster child for the value of, yes, earn a degree, but at the same time when you’re enrolled at Dominguez Hills as a traditional degree seeking student, you should also be pursuing industry specific credentials.
Meni: One of the things that I really like about this conversation and our industry and specifically micro credentials and badging, I think, you know, you used MOOCs as a joke, kind of a fad. One of the, one of the, you know, one of the things that we’ve been doing in continuing professional education for the longest time have been certificate programs or other programs that add, work based workforce development training that get people into new jobs.
And I think what’s evolving here is the state of higher ed in general. I think as we continue to, and I’d love to hear your input on this too, as we continue to evolve to understand who our learners are and what their needs are, it seems like we’re getting closer and closer to fully realizing how to get Learners of all ages to the goals that they’re really interested in achieving, whether it’s to get a job, to get a promotion, to change their life through a new skill, you know, I think it, it just feels like.
All of this work that we’ve been doing for so long for decades now is really coming out with with this new thinking of, you know, the higher ed traditional academic model, you know, it serves its purpose, but we really have to have. All of this complimenting it for the adult learners for those who want additional training and it and it feels like we’re in a place right now where micro credentials and badging and you know who knows what evolution of that is to come is is is really there for the taking for students and and I’m curious.
When you first started with the micro-credentials and the badging, how did your student population change? Did you see an increase in demand for it? What exactly happened when it was first introduced and really taken to market?
Kim: Yeah, that’s a, a another really good question and cau causes me to do some reflection on that because when we first started again we weren’t creating new micro-credentials or badging.
It was taking existing ones and saying, look, we’re gonna give you a credential. That showed that you completed this course, but instead of an old piece of parchment paper and I pull out my ink pen and sign it, you’re going to get a digital representation of that and a digital badge that you can share.
So when we first launched the response rate was pretty low, the claim rate, meaning that students would say, no, I just want my, you know, hand signed certificate that I can hang on my wall. But as we started touting and marketing the value of the credential and how it could be used and shared acceptance started to grow and to grow and grow and grow.
And like I mentioned earlier, we went from a very low claim and share rate to we’re averaging across all programs about 85%. I can tell you with OSHA, our occupational safety and health. We issue six different digital credentials in that space for different programs that you can earn a certificate in.
We have 100 percent claim rate and about a 90 percent share rate. So there are some industries that are realizing the value of it more because a lot of our folks in those programs aren’t college going students. These are working adults, typically in the construction space. And again, they just need it for a job promotion or to keep their credentials current.
And we’re seeing tremendous value there. But what we’re really trying to encourage, to your point, on the traditional side, we’re starting to get to students earlier and working with our career center. As you know, most of us used career centers when we were about, about ready to graduate. So the spring semester of our senior year, most people think, oh, I guess I better go figure out how to write a resume, or I better go to the career center and look for a job or have them help me write a cover letter.
Well, then it’s too late. You know, it’s that ship has sailed. So what we’re encouraging students at Dominguez Hills now is to engage with the career center earlier freshman sophomore to understand the value of what it does. But also we’re working with the career center folks to get students to understand through their office.
Hey, you’re earning your degree. But have you thought about augmenting this with a certificate in in computer skills or excel? Or project management or H. R. Management. So we’re getting students to grasp on the concept earlier of don’t wait till you’re graduated or you may have lost your job in 10 years after you’ve gotten your degree and say, I better go back and pick up some training.
We’re having students do that in tandem now where they’re earning a degree, but also certificates. So we’re seeing wider acceptance. I think we’re doing a better job of that. It conveying the importance of of upskilling reskilling lifelong learning. And not just, you know, as you and I’ve talked before, higher ed is typically pretty linear, you know, it’s, if you can visualize an arc left to right and you go to K 12, you graduate, you go to college, you work a 40 year career, then you retire, well, what I want through continuing ed units and through micro credentials and digital badging is for that arc to look more like a heart rate monitor that when someone graduates with a degree, they come back to Dominguez Hills and particularly through my college to say, wow, I need a certificate in project management. And then a couple of years later, they come back and go, I now I need a human resource management.
So that that should look more like a heart rate monitor. And then at the back end. As you pointed out, we have programs for senior citizens. So once you’re retired, you can continue learning. I think I shared with you when you and I had lunch that I have two students that are in our OSHA Lifelong Learning Institute, a couple of senior citizens 95 years old and are still actively engaged in coming to campus for community ed programs.
Meni: Yeah, it’s hard to explain to people that really don’t understand what the students of all ages phenomenon is in continuing education. And It’s really what makes the community part of what we do so spectacular and I love that you brought up career services and the additional assistance that students need in that area.
I think we could have an entire podcast episode just on the career services and how that evolution within our industry is needed and people should be investing in it, but we’re not going to talk about that here. What I do, one other topic that I wanted to, to kind of mention is continuing and professional education on every campus is still a business.
And the one thing that makes us extremely special is that we aren’t bound by the rules, Typically of the university, and we’re allowed to do some pretty creative things outside the scope of higher ed and education, especially if it impacts our community. You developed something pretty incredible on your campus and that’s that passport office, and I would love for you to tell the story behind why you did it and the success that that office has seen since you built it.
Kim: Yeah, thanks, Meni, and LT, that’s interesting, because… Not only do CE units have the ability to develop new degree programs or micro credentials or training programs, but it really is anything, anything entrepreneurial. So I got to give a little bit of a hats off to a colleague at Fresno State many, many years ago when I first started at Dominguez Hills, he hosted a dean’s meeting at his university.
And he gave us a tour and he had a small passport office and I thought, wow, that’s, that’s very interesting. So it’s a passport acceptance office. And I said, well, Scott Scott Moore is his name. I said, why were you doing this? And he said, well, it’s a revenue generator, but it’s also a service to the community and to the university.
And it sounds simple to do, but it is absolutely not. I mean, it’s government, federal regulations, as you could imagine. Well, fast forward a year. So I said, you know what, I’m going to open up a passport office at my college. And so I tapped a one of my program managers that worked in the college, and he’s a real go getter and the guy that gets things done.
I said, Michael, I want to open up a passport acceptance center in our building and he researched it. We opened it. We, through our social media folks, we, we market the heck out of this thing, but where we win too Meni, we have to focus on customer service. How many of your audience listening today, including ourselves, including you, when you’ve put in for a passport, you go to the post office, you know, you’re treated like a third class citizen.
They’re too busy. They’re closed. There’s a line out the door. The customer service typically is very, is very bad. One of the things I told our staff when we opened this, I said, we are going to have premier and preeminent customer service. So we opened up the passport office. We generate about 300 grand a year on this.
And again, it’s a fixed amount that we can charge. It’s set by the government. So to earn 300, 000 is quite a hat trick because we’re open 8 to 5 Monday through Saturday. But we came up with a very innovative system where you have to have an appointment, and it’s so it’s very methodical. It’s very efficient.
Not only is it open to the university for students and faculty and staff, even our own president and our provost have come through and have updated their passport through our office, but we’re open to the community. And so we have people from all over the L. A area coming in here, and they just praise us.
We get, like, 5 stars on Yelp for outstanding customer service. But here’s part two of that. Inside our passport office. We have a carousel of all of our extended ed programs. So it really is a soft marketing spot or soft sell marketing spot whereby people can come in and while they’re waiting, like at a doctor’s office, they pick up our catalog or brochure, and they can get an interest in what we’re doing because a lot of them just think, oh, it’s the passport office, but they’re actually coming to the university.
And so when they come here, they might say, wow, I didn’t know that Dominguez Hills did this. They might want to send their daughter here, their son here. They may want to come back for additional training. So we actually use the passport office as a, a soft marketing campaign, but I appreciate that. It’s been a remarkable success.
Again, we generate about 300 grand a year operating that. It pays for itself. We, we spend off money back to the main campus. And it’s a great service, but it’s also a marketing tool as well.
Meni: It’s absolutely brilliant. And this should be a lesson to all of the CE and Continuing Professional Education departments out there.
You could be creative with how you utilize your services and what you’re doing on campus for your community, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. If you have services that your community can benefit from, then do it. If you are able to earn extra revenue and use it as a marketing sourced. That’s even better for what you’re doing. I love it. I think it’s an absolutely great utilization of your campus and utilization of your team and being able to build something out from for me. I love it.
My last question that I typically ask on these podcasts is what do you want your legacy to be?
You’ve already done so much at Dominguez Hills, you’ve already done so much in your career, but as you continue forward, I know you’re, you’re still a young, a young man, so you’re not, you’re not close to retirement yet, but, but when the time comes for you to, to, to hang it up, what do you want your legacy to be in continuing and professional education?
Kim: Wow, those are, those are good questions and tough questions. Well, one, I still love to, we’re going to continue to pioneer and lead the digital badging and micro credentialing space, particularly as we go into the comprehensive learning record, digital backpacks. I want to be able to be the leader in a repository where folks can store their credentials, transcripts, degrees, certificates, all in one place over an entire working career.
Two, I’ve said this to you, I believe, and I’ve told other colleagues of mine, you know, I could work at some very high name brand universities and some privates even here in the L. A. area that that will remain nameless. But I always my legacy. I’ve always said is. But I could only move the needle incrementally working at a, a, an institution like that, they already attract the best students high dollar students, you know people of of privilege, but
Meni: at Dominguez Hills, what I love the legacy is, is that I get to serve a population that is underserved, the underdog.
And they’re scrappy and they’re feisty and they want to give back to their community. So I want to provide them the tools, the academic and education tools, for them to be successful supporting their communities. So that’s what I want to do is continue that space with digital badging, but more importantly, Provide education and training that I can make a broader impact of folks to say, wow, we help that person get a better job, or we help that person get a promotion. We help that person you know, advance themselves through upskilling and reskilling, because I’d rather do that and make a larger impact than work at a a big name private or a big name public. And just make incremental improvements because they’re already that good. So those are the two things I would continue to hopefully be remembered by.
Well, I could tell you that the cement is drying because that legacy is in progress and you’ve been doing such an amazing job in our industry. I’m so happy that you and I became friends and we’ve been able to work together and I got to see some of these things firsthand. It’s been an absolute pleasure, being a colleague and, you know, especially having you on this podcast. Thank you so much for sharing some of your insight and expertise. And I really hope that people were able to really get something from this because they were listening to an expert.
Kim: Well, thank you, Meni. And I want to thank you for the invitation.
I’m so glad we met many years ago at a conference. I think it was an UPCEA conference and you and I just hit it off. And as you know, Almost every industry is built around relationships and, and and that’s what we have and you’re great at what you do. I love working with you.
You’re a thought leader and a thought partner. And again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to spend you know, 30, 45 minutes with you talking about Some of the things we’ve done here. So I appreciate that.
Meni: Thank you so much, Kim. And if anybody out there knows of a 2014 Corvette with blue exterior and brownstone leather interior, please reach out to one of us because there’s somebody looking for one.
Kim: Thank you for the reminder, Meni. Absolutely. And maybe someone could give me the insider discount too.
Meni: Awesome. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Education Beyond Degrees podcast with the SPUR group. If you liked what you heard, you can find this episode along with a ton of other resources on the website. See you on the next episode.