Vol. 20, No. 18
July 19, 2001
Continuing ed innovator
When you think of continuing education at UD, Rich Fischer immediately comes to mind. He has been an integral part of the program since its early stages in 1969 and has had a substantial role in helping it become the extensive, multifaceted organization it is today, serving thousands of adult students throughout the region and beyond.
Fischer will step down from his active leadership of the Division of Continuing Education, effective Aug. 31. After a one-year leave, he will officially retire August 2002, completing 33 years with the University, 13 of them as associate provost for continuing and distance education.
Looking back over his career, Fischer said, "Continuing education has been an exciting place to be. There has been tremendous growth and change. The University administration has been very supportive of continuing education and in meeting the challenge of increasing opportunities for part-time students and providing for the workforce development needs of area businesses."
During his tenure, the University's continuing education program has grown from a staff of about eight and a small program of evening credit courses taught in Newark and Wilmington to a comprehensive program with a staff of more than 80 delivering undergraduate, graduate and professional development courses and training throughout the mid-Atlantic area. Its distance learning initiatives reach nationally to over 150 corporate and healthcare work sites in 25 states.
"In my job, I've had the best of both worlds," Fischer said, "with one foot in academia and the other in the corporate arena. I am very pleased to have been associated with an institution as outstanding as the University of Delaware and to work with exceptional professionals and staff in the Division of Continuing Education."
Among the innovations under his oversight were the development of the Wilmington Campus, including the construction of Arsht Hall, the inauguration of the University Downtown Center, expansion of the Virden Center in Lewes, and the establishment of six computer labs to serve the training needs of area businesses.
Fischer also was one of the founders of the Academy of Lifelong Learning. Located in both Wilmington and Lewes, it now serves more than 2,400 older adults. Fischer's book on the learning needs of older adults, Students of the Third Age, won the 1993 Phillip E. Frandson Award for literature from the National University Continuing Education Association.
Other highly recognized programs developed during his tenure include the Governor's School for Excellence, a summer enrichment program for talented 10th graders throughout the state; webmaster and e-commerce professional certificate programs; the Eastern Shore Medical Symposium, co-hosted with Jefferson University; and the delivery of the first two bachelor's degrees in nursing and hotel, restaurant and institutional management via distance education.
"We have been providing education and training programs for almost every major corporation in the area," he said.
Fischer, who grew up in State College, Pa., received his bachelor's degree and MBA from Pennsylvania State University and his doctorate from Temple University. He worked in marketing and sales for Dow Chemical Co. for five years before coming to UD. He will continue to teach part-time in the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management and will pursue his other vocationplaying the cornet in a local 35-piece all-brass concert band.
In 1999, Fischer and his wife established an endowment to fund the Claudia and Richard Fischer Music Scholarship for a full-time music major, studying voice or brass. Claudia Fischer was former assistant dean in the College of Arts and Science.