CHANCELL-ING: Learning for a Lifetime

The academic year at UC Davis starts in just a few weeks, and our college town will be back in peak action.

For some students, this will be the first step of their journey through higher education. Others will be moving through their upper-division classes or grad school seminars with their UC Davis degrees in sight.

In Davis, it’s a time to remember that learning is a lifelong adventure. It doesn’t stop once you receive a university diploma. In many ways the curiosity journey is just getting started. There are always new skills and knowledge to be gained, whether for personal interest or professional development.

That’s where Continuing and Professional Education, or CPE, at UC Davis stands to help. For more than 60 years, this lifelong learning arm of UC Davis has transformed lives and careers of adult learners. It includes more than a dozen areas of study, from biotechnology and brewing to leadership and health sciences.


CPE offers nearly 20 academic certificates in high-demand career fields such as construction management, public health and land use and environmental planning. The classes are typically online and give students the flexibility to earn a full certificate, take a course or two to brush up on a specific topic, or prepare for a master’s degree program.

One offering I’ve seen up close is the UC Davis Executive Leadership Program. It’s geared for senior executives who want to continue growing their capacity as leaders of their organizations. I’ve participated as a guest speaker for a seminar on effective leadership and the importance of inclusivity, sharing my own career journey and learnings gained along the way. Past speakers in the UC Davis Executive Leadership Program include Vivek Ranadive, owner of the Sacramento Kings, and Dr. Stephen Lockhart, the chief medical officer of Sutter Health.

Notable teachers and courses

Here's a fun fact: Some of UC Davis’ most notable alumni and faculty have taught CPE courses. They include celebrity chef Martin Yan, Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arneson, the creator of the university’s iconic “Egghead” sculptures.

Of course, UC Davis’ strengths in food, fermentation and sensory science lend themselves to some of CPE’s most popular courses. Participants can learn about wine from many facets, such as learning how to make your own, vineyard health and management, and much more. The same goes for a variety of courses related to beer, including the science of brewing, craft beer laws and a Master Brewer Certificate Program.

Learning for all

Overall, a key goal of CPE is to support workforce and professional development for adults of all ages. One aspect I’d like to note is geared specifically for ages 50 and up.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CPE offers numerous opportunities to expand intellectual horizons and form friendships. Its curriculum is divided into three areas: community, discovery and longevity. Upcoming courses will focus on social and political topics, such as current decisions by the United States Supreme Court. Others will make connections with the UC Davis campus, including our Global Tea Institute, and another event will include a day of learning at a Lodi apple farm. Look for more information soon on upcoming courses and fall enrollment.

The notion that it’s never too late to earn a degree is also supported through CPE. The UC Degree Completion Program is a state-funded initiative that’s designed to help Californians complete bachelor’s degrees or earn professional certificates. The program is a collaboration with the extension programs at UC Riverside, UC Merced and UC Santa Barbara. For those who have completed some university courses but have yet to earn a degree, this program can be a game changer.

All of this is just a taste of what you’ll find through CPE. I encourage you to learn more about their range of courses and programs, especially as fall enrollment is underway.

Chancellor Gary S. May’s monthly column is published in The Davis Enterprise and Dateline UC Davis.

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