UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Debra Roach, director of workforce development and continuing education at Penn State Beaver, has been honored with the 2020 Shirley Hendrick Award, presented by the Penn State Commission for Adult Learners for service to adult learners.
The Shirley Hendrick Award recognizes an administrator University-wide who has contributed to the success of Penn State’s efforts to serve adult learners. The award is named in memory of Shirley Hendrick (1936–2000), the first recipient, dean for continuing education in the Smeal College of Business and inaugural chair of the Commission for Adult Learners, who advocated for continuing education.
Roach’s practical business experience and her doctoral work in instructional management and leadership well equips her to meet the needs of the region’s adult learners, nominators said. Most specifically, her research focused on universities becoming more agile and adapting to meet the needs of the 21st-century workforce.
Roach’s efforts to expand higher education opportunities for all include:
● increasing weekend and evening modules while expanding continuing education offerings to include hybrid courses that allow for more flexibility;
● forming good relationships with local industry and workforce development agencies to broaden reach;
● working with other continuing education leaders at several Penn State campuses to share her successful approaches;
● developing and submitting to the Pennsylvania State Licensing Board the University’s first certified recovery specialist program to support efforts to battle the opioid crisis; and
● contributing expertise to the efforts of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce to help produce a leadership series to address workplace issues.
“Roach has a particular passion for serving adults and nontraditional learners,” a nominator said. “She is familiar with good practices in the field such as cohort models, compact modules and flexible scheduling. Her background and practical experience combine to contribute to her effectiveness at meeting workforce demands.”