In choosing a new provost and chief academic officer, Strayer University looked to a dedicated, proven leader for the job. Dr. Randi Reich Cosentino joined the University in 2001 and has since held a number of management roles that prepared her for the one she holds today.
Before coming to Strayer University, Dr. Cosentino worked in government, as well as the private sector, where she co-founded and managed strategic development for an application service provider serving the higher education market.
What are your responsibilities as provost and chief academic officer?
My job is to ensure the University runs in an efficient and effective way for our students. I oversee academic programs, faculty, assessment, student support services, the registrar and the Schools of Business, Arts and Sciences, Information Systems and Technology, and Education.
What is your top priority right now?
I believe in the promise of technology for achieving academic outcomes, so the University is really focused on leveraging technology, not only to provide more educational access, but to provide a truly outstanding academic experience. We are currently redesigning the Strayer University online curriculum to take advantage of technology that enables more problembased learning, simulation, hands-on experiences and adaptive learning, which gives each student an individualized learning path. Some of our largest online classes already offer this upgrade, and we will continue to bring it to all online classes throughout the year.
How will advances in educational technology upgrade the online learning environment?
We’re at an inflection point in online education where technology is really making a difference in learning outcomes. We are able to do things now online that we never could before, such as taking students to view art in the Louvre or placing them in the middle of a business simulation. For example, a student might encounter an online simulation where he or she is a CEO who has just been told that exchange rates have changed and they need to hedge their company’s currency. From there, the student can explore options and choose his or her own learning path, whether that involves consulting an expert, reading an article or interacting with “colleagues” to arrive at the best solution. In this way, students experience the material in a realworld setting, which makes the learning more engaging.
In your 12 years at Strayer University, what have you learned about the University and its students?
Strayer University students are some of the most motivated students I’ve ever encountered. I also attended school as a working adult and I know the obstacles they need to overcome. That our students continue to take on the challenge of higher education amazes me and keeps me motivated to make sure we are giving them the best. The University is very unique in our commitment to serving students at exactly where they are on their journeys to higher education. We meet the needs of every type of student, physically through our campuses, and also through multiple course modalities and comprehensive support.
How has your business background influenced your work at Strayer University?
Working at the intersection of education and technology has been a driving force for my career. My career at Strayer has enabled me to combine my knowledge of best business practices—operational effectiveness, management practices, how to maximize efficiencies and build and scale an organization—with my academic skills—understanding pedagogy, how to achieve learning outcomes, how to support academic environments, how to leverage research for your own organization. I think that by having an eye for operational efficiencies, I’m able to provide our students with a high-quality experience where they can enroll in the classes they need, find the support they need and have systems in place that work for them.
As a former working adult student, what advice do you have for Strayer University students?
We all know time management is critical, but it’s important to think about what that really means. For me, it was physically writing out a schedule and carving out time to work on school. I know planning is not glamorous, but at the end of the day, that’s what gets it done. Planning also gives you the confidence that you can indeed achieve this tremendous goal.