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A Conversation With: Rachel Finley-Bowman

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Rachel Finley-Bowman, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Elizabethtown College
Rachel Finley-Bowman, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Elizabethtown College - (Photo / )

Rachel Finley-Bowman, 49, is dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at Elizabethtown College.

She also is an associate professor of social studies education and chaired the education department from 2012 to 2018. Before that, she was an associate professor of history, chair of the department of secondary education and co-director of the honors program at Delaware Valley University.

Finley-Bowman earned a bachelor’s degree from Drexel University and a master’s degree and doctorate from Lehigh University, all in history. She is president-elect of the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies.

She lives in Manheim Township with her husband, Andrew, and their three children: Grace, 16; Jack, 12; and Tommy, 10.

Q: What is the most popular program or area of study in the SCPS?

A: Sixty percent of our students major in business at the undergraduate and graduate level. We want to meet our learners where they are in their careers, so we’re providing experiences in terms of coursework that can help them advance, or teaching skills or job sets within their current occupations. Our two other pillar areas of coursework are in human services and the health sciences. Our newest and growing area is in education. We’re focusing on where the jobs are in the region and on the needs of students to help them realize their dreams, both professional and personal.

How do Elizabethtown’s programs help students maintain a work-life balance?

That’s always the elusive piece for all of us. We’re trying to find the formula that fits, that we feel we’re giving 100 percent to our job, 100 percent to our family and 100 percent to ourselves. We have five-week accelerated classes designed to be taken one class at a time so you can concentrate on a specific skillset and content, and we hope you see immediate applicability to what you’re doing in your life.

One of the things we talk a lot about is mentorship. For our graduate students we have an executive residence program, where the students are paired with experts who can help them, even be a sounding board on work-life balance. We meet students where they are. We know it’s not unusual that you may need a little extension on a class because you have a sick child at home or an extra presentation at work.

For the executive already at the top, what is the benefit to continuing education?

It’s embracing that idea that no matter what our role or position is, we all need to be lifelong learners. If you look at a traditional learner who’s 18, many are preparing for careers that don’t even exist. We know the data of how many job shifts people are going to have in a 40-year work span. It’s creating opportunities and recognizing how we can help people continue to grow.

What was your favorite spring break memory in college?

I came from a small town in Schuylkill County. My mom was a teacher and my dad was a computer salesman, so it was a big leap for me to go to the school of my dreams. I spent my spring breaks working. I wish I had a fun story but I always had to make sure I was juggling a million balls in the air. But with that story, I hope it gives people a sense of ‘you can do it too.’

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