Adult and Higher Education

Steve Thaxton

Steve Thaxton

Place of employment: Northwestern University of Chicago
Title: Executive Director of the National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

Job description:

“My academic encore career took an unexpected turn, working collectively with 150,000 student/members on campuses in all 50 states. The job suits me wonderfully, combining past skills with a contemporary education in adult learning.”


Steve’s goal was to teach undergraduates in a college broadcasting program - playing off his 33-year career in local television. The emphasis on personal reflection along with the theoretical tenets of adult learning attracted him to USM’s program. “I knew earning a master’s degree was necessary in my aim toward academia. I needed the credibility of a graduate education and wanted to focus concentration on a deeper level than in my previous career - one that rewarded and often required a short attention span for the frenetic pace of media, “ he said. “The AHE program stressed exactly the concepts and theory that would help me better understand myself and how variously adult students learn.” 

Experience in Adult and Higher Education program:

Of the many concepts introduced through courses, Steve found those from Consulting Fundamentals and Practice (HRD 653) to be immediately applicable to his new work at Northwestern University. Readings from leaders in the field such as consultant Peter Block, educator Stephen Brookfield and authors Merriam, Cafferella and Baumgarner all had instant influence. But it was sustained online sharing between his peers that kept him engaged throughout studies. “At first, online courses were intimidating. With a 30-year hiatus between my undergraduate and graduate degrees, a whole lot had changed!” After his first course with Professor Brady as learning leader, he clearly saw the value and rigor of online education: “ Those online courses proved to be more intense than the traditionally taught courses in my program. But the ability to have some courses with in-person opportunities to form learning communities with peers and instructors were critical too,” he adds.


For more information about the USM Adult and Higher Education program please contact the Office of Admissions at (207) 780-5670 or visit our homepage.