Program lead brings decades of experience to OSU adult education program

Oregon State University’s College of Education is revamping its Adult Education/Organization and Human Resource Education Program under the leadership of a new instructor, Donna Drake-Clark.

New College of Education instructor Donna Drake-Clark (photo: Theresa Hogue)

New College of Education instructor Donna Drake-Clark (photo: Theresa Hogue)

With three decades of experience, Drake-Clark will be tailoring the program to meet the needs of commuter students who work full-time, and reflect the changing face of adult education.

To that end the program has been changed from a three-year to a two-year masters program, offering a combination of in-class and on-line teaching to accommodate the schedules of the students. The program is focused on students who will be teaching adults in a variety of settings, from the corporate world to community colleges to non-profit organizations and elsewhere.

It is designed to give students the tools they need to tailor programs aimed specifically at adult audiences.

For years, Drake-Clark worked in human resources and loved what she did. As part of Merrill Lynch, the New York Times Company, and Toyota Financial Services, she did much more than make hiring and firing decisions. She focused on organizational development, training, and assisting employees in making the right choices for their careers.

But after tiring of the corporate world, Drake-Clark switched gears and earned a master’s degree in human resource and organizational development, and a Ph.D. in adult education from the University of Georgia. Once on the job market, the College of Education at OSU caught her eye. She knew Darlene Russ-Eft was chair of the Adult Education and Higher Education Leadership Department, and had read some of Russ-Eft’s work in class.

“I knew she was a pretty big deal,” Drake-Clark said, adding that she was so interested in working with Russ-Eft, she pursued the non-tenure track position without having stepped foot in Oregon before.

“It was,” Drake-Clark said, “a step of faith.”

As program lead, her biggest task will be refreshing the Adult Education/Organization and Human Resource Education Program, which is a master’s degree program. Changing times are shifting the focus of the program, Drake-Clark said, toward offering a broader look at what adult and human resource education is – in part to make the program more adaptable to the changing economic picture for corporate America.

“People want to make themselves more recession-proof,” Drake-Clark said. “They want to say, ‘Okay I can do more than just training. I can also do executive coaching. I can also do organizational development. I can look at your employees, what makes them satisfied about their jobs, what they’re not satisfied with. Then I can help you come up with action plans.’”

The cohort of students involved in the program are already working full-time jobs, ranging from nurse education to non-profit organizations.

“The skills people learn in this program are beyond just training and development, because not all learning takes place in a training room,” Drake-Clark said. “Adult learning happens in many places, like on the job. Organizations need to make sure their on the job training is consistent, and that the people who are conducting it are not teaching their own idiosyncratic ways, but what the worker should be doing.”

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