The Center to Advance Education for Adults

Contact Us   

Center to Advance Education for Adults (CAEA) 
14 East Jackson Blvd., Suite 1400
Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: (312) 362-6508
Fax: (312) 476-3221

To join our network of adult learning professionals, please visit:

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Join Our Network

The Center maintains an active international network of adult learning professionals across practice settings. Within this network, members connect with each other, engage in continuing conversation and resource sharing and receive regular updates on upcoming programs.  We invite you to join us so you can begin exchanging ideas for better learning!  Visit

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The Center fulfills its mission by offering programs appealing to adult learning practitioners in business, government, healthcare, community-based organizations, and higher education.  In addition to offering imaginative ideas for best practice, the Center creates a forum for adult learning practitioners to network and exchange ideas. The Center also works with students in SNL's Masters in Educating Adults by providing opportunities for them to extend their learning, present their practice-based inquiry projects and network with other practitioners.  For a list of upcoming programs and to register for events, see :

Center Programs include:

Adult Learning Innovation Institute
The Center launched The Adult Learning Innovation Institute (ALII) in Fall 2013. This new institute is designed for adult learning professionals from any setting who want to develop and refine competencies and capacities to help adults learn in diverse, changing contexts with the latest innovative practices. ALII sessions are designed and facilitated by leading educators in adult learning, drawing on the latest research and practice. See

Theme-Based Series
The Center chooses a theme each year around which to program a series of learning experiences. This year's theme is “What If Every Community Were a Learning Community?” Learning experiences include innovative opportunities for adult learning professionals to participate in informal learning, reflection and knowledge creation through collaborative inquiry. A list of past programs can be found at

News From the Field
Several times a year the Center hosts a forum in which adult learning professionals share the latest trends and insights from recent adult learning conferences they have attended. After brief presentations, participants discuss potential implications on their practice.

Learning Labs
The Center regularly hosts Learning Labs for adult learning practitioners to experiment with new teaching, facilitation and learning strategies. See

Bertram Scott - Elizabeth A. Fender Distinguished Lecture Series
Each year, the Center invites a leading contributor to adult learning and human development to provoke learning and reflection. Past speakers included Laurent A, Daloz, Annalee Lamoreaux, Elliot Masie, Kathleen Taylor, Roosevelt Thomas Jr., Margaret Wheatley, and James Zull.

Master of Arts in Educating Adults (MAEA) Graduates Showcase
Each spring, graduating Master of Arts in Educating Adults students are invited to present their culminating projects. Informal poster sessions are followed by a panel discussion and open conversation to discuss the graduating adult learning professionals practice-based inquiry.

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Donors and Sponsors   

Patricia J. Parson/Mason Parson Family Foundation
Patricia J. Parson is the retired CEO of AmerInd, Inc, an award winning information technology and E-learning company Parson founded in 1983. At the time AmerInd, Inc. was acquired by FCBS, revenues were in excess of $22 million with clients such as the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the National Guard Bureau. Parson has also been active in various non-profit organizations and programs providing Native American education opportunities. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University’s School for New Learning in 1978 and has served as a DePaul University Trustee since 2002. In 2006, the Mason Parson Family Foundation made a gift to support the Center’s conferences and to establish an endowment to perpetuate this support. In addition, Parson helped found the Center.

The Bertram L. Scott/Elizabeth A. Fender Distinguished Lecture Series Endowment
Bertram L. Scott is executive vice president and chief institutional development and sales officer for investment giant TIAA-CREF. He joined the company in 2000 as
president of the organization’s insurance division. Previously, he was chief executive officer of Horizon Mercy, a managed care program initiative by Mercy Health Plan of Pennsylvania and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Jersey. Scott graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University’s School for New Learning in 1980. A strong proponent of adult education, Scott has served as a DePaul University Trustee since 2005 and in May 2009 received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address. Scott and his wife established The Bertram L. Scott/Elizabeth A. Fender Distinguished Lecture Series Endowment to attract renowned speakers to conferences presented by the Center.

Support the Center
Donations support high quality, innovative programs firmly rooted in best practices for adult learning.  For more information about supporting the Center, contact: Michelle Bibbs, Development Director, or (312) 362-7072.

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Most Center programs are recorded and posted on our CAEA Network site:  

Older programs are available on iTunes U. To access:
- Open iTunes and navigate to the iTunes store.
- Click on the iTunes U link on the top right.
- Select DePaul under the list of universities. The Center is listed under the DePaul Community. Scroll for past events.

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As funds are available, the Center supports research on strategies for working with adult learners. Research projects are future-focused in ways adults learn, develop the capacity to think globally, engage with their communities and use technology to advance learning in higher education, workplace settings and community organizations.


The Research Committe solicits, assesses and selects projects for $1,200 awards. Recipients present results at an annual conference. Past awards include:

Michelle Navarre Cleary, with Polly Hoover, Suzanne Sanders-Betzold, Peggy St. John.
DePaul University SNL, with Wilbur Wright College, Chicago, IL
Using Wikis to Improve Adult Student Persistence by Building Community and Improving Academic Writing Skills.

Christopher Worthman
DePaul University, School of Education, Chicago, IL
Writing to Our Strengths: Social Engagement and Writing Development in an Adult ESL Classroom.

Marianne Reiff
Lesley University, Cambridge, MA
"Show Me the Learning" Assessing an Adult Learning DVD.

Helen Rosenberg
University of Wisconsin-Parkside Kenosha, WI
Enhancing learning through community engagement: Understanding challenges for adult learners.

Pamela S. Buchanan
University of Mobile Mobile, AL
Effects of Analogy-Enhanced Instruction on Performance and Motivation of Adult College Students

Roxanne Eubank
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Adult Student Engagement

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The Center to Advance Education for Adults (CAEA) creates community among adult learning practitioners across sectors to exchange ideas and inspire imaginative strategies for learning in diverse settings.

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Statement of Need   

The convergence of four major factors impel SNL to think broadly about the future of higher education for adult students.

Pressure for Education. The first factor is the increasing pressure for worthy education. Demands and opportunities of contemporary life make it imperative that people learn on an ongoing basis-even as they have less time to study. In businesses, community organizations, churches, hospitals, government organizations, schools, and community groups, people seek continuous upgrading of their knowledge and skill. Making ethical choices and developing capacity to work collaboratively are key to contemporary education and practice. This is true in the United States and other developed nations, as well as in emerging and underdeveloped areas.

Global Integration. The second factor is the impact of global integration. Increasingly, individuals must attend to issues that formerly stood far from their consciousness. Scientific and engineering revolutions have reduced barriers across space. Transportation, the Internet and telecommunications compel nations, organizations and peoples to build networks across boundaries. People work remotely from afar, competing and collaborating with people they cannot see. Provincial approaches to problems are rarely relevant, and thinking adults must become familiar with practices, values, and assumptions of people in distant places.

Availability of Information through Emerging Technology.
The third factor is the increased availability of information through emerging technology. Adults world wide can retrieve, store, manipulate and use data in entirely new ways. There is intense need to learn what is possible and to think about the meaning of the capabilities. On-line learning options multiply, bringing with them compelling questions of effectiveness and viability.

Widening Education Gaps. The fourth factor is the dramatic widening of the educational gap within the United States—especially relative to the educational preparedness of other nations. The November 2005 report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education sounds the alarm that the population of the United States that has completed a bachelor’s degree will decline within the next decade, just as the level of education within other nations is on the rise and the need for more education grows. “The key resource in the 21st century will be knowledge, and our ability to develop skilled, flexible workers who know how to quickly seize knowledge and adapt to shifting tastes and markets is the fundamental challenge to furthering our economic bounty.” 3

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Leadership Team   

The Leadership Team develops the Center's mission, including assembling a strong Advisory Board of representatives from business, community organizations and higher education. The Board forms committees to guide the Center’s initiatives, each led by a Leadership Team member and supported by the Center Coordinator

Leadership Team
Julie Benesh, Ph.D.
Catherine Marienau, Ph.D.
Pamela Meyer, Ph.D. (Director)
Regina Spellers Sims, Ph.D.
Ann Stanford, Ph.D. (member-at-large)
Katherine Wozniak, M.A.

Kumari Christiansen

Advisory Board Members
Marisa Alicea, Ph.D., DePaul University, Dean, School for New Learning
Tom Barr, Ph.D., Enablon
Julie Benesh, Ph.D., Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Cheryl Cornell-Powers, Corporate & Professional Training
Tiffany Dotson, Pfizer
Susanne Dumbleton, Ph.D., Frmr. Dean, School for New Learning (Emeritus CAEA Advisory Board)
Kelli McMiller, The Kaleidoscope Group
Leodis Scott, Ph.D., DePaul University, School for New Learning
Carol Semrad, C. Semrad & Associates
Gilliam Steele, DePaul University, Career Center
Carol Taylor, Metra
Roy Whitmore, University of Phoenix
Vincent Wiggins, City Colleges of Chicago
Gabi Zolla, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)

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