December 3, 2020

Learning Enterprise aims to serve learners across their entire lifespan, from kindergarten to postretirement

Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

When Maria Anguiano joined Arizona State University as senior vice president of enterprise strategy and planning in fall 2018, she was excited to get down to work in the university’s fast-paced environment. 

Since then, Anguiano has kept busy working with senior leadership on university budget strategies, enrollment and nonenrollment revenue development opportunities, as well as spearheading a number of strategic projects, including the planning of ASU’s new Los Angeles location (which is set to open next summer) and the launch of the first ASU Local site there. 

As far as keeping her on her toes, Anguiano said, “ASU hasn’t disappointed!” 

And the pace is only picking up. The university announced this week that Anguiano has been named executive vice president of Learning Enterprise, an initiative for which she developed the initial conceptual design and now will have responsibility for implementing and evolving.    

As one of ASU’s three pillars — the other two being Academic Enterprise and Knowledge Enterprise — Learning Enterprise shares the same primary goal of advancing the university’s charter in its entirety. However, Learning Enterprise’s main focus is the last part of the charter: “assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.”

Most universities serve students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees shortly after high school. ASU has emerged as a different kind of university that aims to serve all learners at every stage of life. In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees, ASU also has learning options from K–12 to midcareer to postretirement. Learning Enterprise aims to grow these education options through scalable, technology-enabled pathways that will serve the greatest number of learners possible. In her new role, Anguiano will take the lead on harnessing and mobilizing all of ASU’s assets to achieve this while continuing to work with senior leadership on overall university priorities. 

“Underlying everything we do in Learning Enterprise is the desire to grow access to social and economic opportunity, no matter the stage in a person’s life,” Anguiano said. “To do this well requires dedicated effort, and so we felt it was important to develop a pillar, the Learning Enterprise, where folks wake up every single day thinking about how to make all of ASU’s assets and learning offerings relevant, available and accessible to everyone in the community.

“Relevance here is an important word as people need to feel that what ASU has to offer was created with them in mind. We are 100% focused on delivering value to the lives of our learners.”

ASU Now recently connected with Anguiano and asked her to expand on what that all means.

Question: What makes Learning Enterprise unique?

Answer: ASU has recognized that to meet the needs of a rapidly changing, technology-driven world, people will need to access education and learning platforms throughout their lives. So the scope of ASU’s Learning Enterprise is quite broad as we are serving learners across their entire lifespan. The initial work of Learning Enterprise requires conceptualizing how a research university might best serve any learner, whether they are just starting their educational journey or are embarking in a postretirement learning journey and everything in between. No major research university has ever attempted to take this on, and it will require working across the entire ASU enterprise, with every school, with every institute, with every partner we have to advance this vision. While I’m sure the work of Learning Enterprise will evolve substantially, our initial focus areas include K–12 learners, learners seeking accessible pathways into college, learners seeking resources that will help them reskill or upskill and lifelong enrichment. 

Q: What are some of your immediate and long-term goals for Learning Enterprise?

A: I believe that in order to truly transform the lives of people through education, we as educators are going to have to rethink and redesign learning to better fit the lives of our learners and meet them where they are, instead of expecting them to fit one mold. We want Learning Enterprise to provide a lifelong learning infrastructure that anyone can plug into and feel like it was created with their needs in mind. Thus, we have a lot of work to do to achieve that vision of ASU as the premier lifelong learning global education brand. It will require us to build best-in-class learner support infrastructure and technology that is both robust and cost-effective.

In the short term, we are focused on publicly launching Learning Enterprise, so we are working on branding, communications, partnerships and making our initial content offerings the best that they can be.

Q: What about this opportunity most excites you?

A: I’m excited that Learning Enterprise will be working on breaking down barriers and reimagining how to curate, structure and distribute learning opportunities to be high quality, accessible and affordable to everyone. 

My mother is a great example of those whom we want to help with Learning Enterprise. She only received a traditional education in Mexico until sixth grade, but at 67 years old, education is more important to her than ever. She is a voracious learner and is constantly asking me where she can find learning resources for everything from contract negotiations for her business, to how to become a better teacher for classes she leads at her church, to improving her English. There are so many people out there like my mother whom Learning Enterprise can help! It’s really exciting to think about the impact we can make in people’s lives outside the traditional university learning environment.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is not a traditional college student but wants to expand their knowledge base and/or education?

A: I would point them to ASU for You! ASU for You will be the portal that helps learners to discover and navigate which Learning Enterprise offerings are right for them. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all advice. This is both the opportunity, and the challenge, for Learning Enterprise to solve. We want to become a trusted source of information that can reliably advise learners on what’s best for them, whether that’s something ASU provides or not.

Q: Anything else folks should know about Learning Enterprise? 

A: For Learning Enterprise to be successful, we will need to harness all that ASU has to offer. I encourage anyone that has ideas on how to advance the Learning Enterprise or how their work could contribute to please reach out to me.

Top photo by Jarrod Opperman/ASU

Emma Greguska

Reporter , ASU News

(480) 965-9657