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Released July 22, 2004


LONG BEACH -- The University of Southern Mississippi's Workplace Learning and Performance Center arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast this month, ready to take advantage of a business environment favorable for the innovative curriculum that the department offers.

"The Gulf Coast is delighted to have the Workplace Learning and Performance Center now operating out of its Gulf Park campus," said Dr. Jay Grimes, provost of Southern Miss Gulf Coast and director of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. "This center has a proud history of providing solutions for the private sector and they are now ideally positioned to work with the ever-expanding growth on the Coast."

Launched by Dr. Cyndi Gaudet, the Workforce Training and Development master's program was approved in 1999 by the Institutes of Higher Learning. Workforce training and development focuses on preparing professionals to anticipate and to meet the changing needs of industry.

"In today's competitive 21st_century workplace, workforce training and development professionals are in high demand because they offer systematic and tangible solutions to a variety of human performance problems," said Gaudet, who also serves as director of the Workplace Learning and Performance Center. "WTD students are taught how to design effective programs to improve the worker (performance), the work (process) and the workplace (organization)."

Workforce development courses are designed to provide location and time flexibility for busy professionals who would like to increase their knowledge, skills, and credibility in the training profession but cannot relocate for a traditional graduate program. The master of science degree in workforce training and development prepares students to

  • balance individual and organizational needs,
  • build knowledge capital within the organization,
  • improve human performance, and
  • improve financial return.

In the executive format, students may earn a master's degree by completing three on-campus sessions each semester supported by Web-based learning for a total of 33 semester hours. Each three-day session is conducted on a Thursday-Friday-Saturday schedule on campus.

A bachelor's degree and a certificate program for training and human resource development professionals are also available. A campus chapter of the International Society of Performance Improvement has been chartered for student development in the WTD profession.

"The WLPC is a great addition to our coast mission of servicing the nontraditional student," said Ken Malone, chief operating officer of Southern Miss Gulf Coast. "The master's degree in workforce development is offered in a hybrid online/in-person format that is ideal for our working students. The WLPC will also be integrated into our Gulf Coast business community, assisting companies in the analysis of their increasingly high-tech workforce."

As of the summer semester this year, 43 students had completed the WTD master's program. WTD alumni work for a variety of public and private organizations in such roles as corporate training managers, guest relations training specialists and managers of education departments.

Southern Miss' Workforce Training and Development program was recognized as one of 50 Best Practices in Workforce Development at the Southern Growth Policies Board 30th annual Conference on the Future of the South in June 2002. The program's success was published in the Southern Growth Policies Board's report, "Human Capital Strategies for the Next Economy: Best Practices from the South." In other news, Gaudet was recently asked to serve on NASA's Workforce Development Task Force Committee to create a workforce development strategic plan for the next five years for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise.


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July 23, 2004 11:20 AM