On the fourth floor of American University's Spring Valley Building, past the silver-colored elevators and around the narrow bend of uniform offices, the Dean's Suite to the School of Professional & Extended Studies (SPExS) is buzzing with activity. Cardboard boxes are piled neatly; bookshelves are emptied, save for a few paperbacks on international development, intercultural understanding, and foreign policy theory. And hung on one wall, still, is a vibrant three-panel painting of jazz instruments within a floating whirl of music notes -- a gift from the assistant to the Dean and the alumni relations coordinator. In the center of it all, sitting on a leather couch, is Dr. Carola Weil in focused reflection.
"We have created something here that cuts across disciplines, that cuts across different audiences, and that depends and builds upon relationships with others," says the founding Dean about her work at the School.
Come June, Dr. Weil will leave American University for a Deanship at McGill University in Montreal. With this transition, she leaves behind a legacy that has at once opened AU to new audiences in the world of experiential learning and enriched the communities within through innovative bridge programing and skills-based degree offerings. In so many ways, Dr. Weil has lead a movement that continues to redefine the future of the workplace and of lifelong learning.
"I have always thought of higher education as one of the core pillars of civil society. If you think of all the different parts to a university as a tool kit for life, then [continuing education schools] are the tool that connect universities to the broader society, helping individuals navigate their professional development at critical junctures in their career paths."