During his tenure, SCE expanded its program offerings, enhanced existing programs and steadily increased the number of non-traditional adult graduates. His last day will be May 31, 2007.
When he arrived at SCE in August 1981, the school graduated less than five adult students per year – during the university's 162nd Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 12, the school will graduate 30 "non-traditional" students. In Parlato's early days, SCE was full of students taking courses, but not headed toward any kind of degree. That has all changed.
"Today, almost without exception, every enrolled student is completing a program – whether for a degree or for teacher licensure or for both," he said.
Parlato is particularly proud of his work to elevate the community education programs to a level that merits the same respect as general Wittenberg programs. His efforts have raised both the image and substance of SCE. The typical non-traditional adult student nowadays arrives from other schools with a 3.0 or higher grade point average.
Parlato also had a hand in transforming the university's summer session, including campus courses, field studies abroad, independent study and internships for both traditional and non-traditional students. He estimates that when he started, there were only about 160 students enrolled in each summer session. That number has grown to more than 400 today, making summer session a much more regular part of traditional students' four-year experience.
Perhaps the greatest change that has occurred during Parlato's time at the helm of SCE has been the expansion of offerings outside of the credit programs. The school now administers several notable summer academic camps, including WISE, an academic camp for Ohio middle school students now in its 21st year, and the Summer Honors Institute for gifted rising high school sophomores and juniors.
Another camp, the Young Women's Summer Institute, aims to develop middle school girls' science and math skills. Wittenberg is one of only two schools in Ohio offering this innovative camp – the other being The Ohio State University.
Parlato attributes much of the success and growth of SCE to his staff, especially Barb Mackey, director of community programs, who began at SCE the same year as Parlato. Reflecting on his years at SCE, Parlato recalls the challenges and the rewards.
"The job has been demanding," he said. "But seeing kids at the summer camps have experiences that change their view of the world, or watching the adults succeed – that has been very satisfying."
Even in his last years at the school, Parlato has looked to the future of SCE. Most recently, he began preliminary research into the feasibility of an interdisciplinary master's program in humanities. He hopes that this research will lay the groundwork for SCE's continued growth after he leaves.
Written By: Gabrielle Antoniadis
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