Pierian Spring Academy to Merge with Ringling College

Continuing Studies, Lifelong Learning Academy, and Pierian Spring Academy to unite

Under the shared vision of bringing comprehensive continuing studies programs to the region, Ringling College and Pierian Spring Academy have announced plans to merge effective June 2017. This move will bring three of Sarasota/Manatee’s most successful lifelong learning programs—Ringling College Continuing Studies and Special Programs (CSSP), Pierian Spring Academy (PSA), and Lifelong Learning Academy of Sarasota (LLA)—under one umbrella.

As a part of this agreement, PSA will become an integral arm of the College’s growing Continuing Studies department where it will be incorporated into the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy, a unit of the College’s Continuing Studies and Special Programs within the Office of Academic Affairs.  Currently under renovation, the Ringling College South Campus will become the future home of all the College’s Continuing Education programming, including PSA and LLA.

Dr. Larry R. Thompson, President of Ringling College, remarks “We are creating a continuing studies program that draws on the range and depth of knowledge and experience of all three successful organizations. The combining of these organizations under Ringling College and creation of a new entity, the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy, enables us to be comprehensive and flexible. We are not tied to one way of doing things, but we welcome creative ideas and discussions about how to bring our communities and courses together for the benefit of all of our students – young and old.”

Operating separately until next year, PSA and the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy are independently working towards the same goal: to best serve the interests of the large, and growing, population of adult learners in the region. This merger will enable the two organizations to share resources, faculty and expertise to more effectively cater to this community’s growing needs.

PSA President Janis Cohen observes, “I speak on behalf of the Board of Directors of Pierian Spring Academy when I say how pleased we are to join the alliance of lifelong learning programs in Sarasota.  Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy, the product of the merger of successful independent programs, will be strong, vibrant and serve our community well.”

PSA has been offering high quality adult learning programs in Sarasota/Manatee counties for 18 years. Currently, the highly successful nonprofit caters to 1350 enrolled adult learners with nearly 70 seminar-style courses. PSA offers higher education level adult learning courses taught by highly qualified retired academics or professionals with a specialization in a course area. Currently PSA offers courses at nine locations within the community, bringing courses to students in Sarasota, Bradenton, and Lakewood Ranch.

According to Dan Idzik, the former PSA president who led discussions with Ringling College, “Our merger with the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy will build a strong partnership and will greatly enhance adult learning opportunities for Sarasota/Manatee residents.  We are excited to be part of the Ringling College of Art and Design family.  I know our faculty and students will look forward to benefitting from all of the resources which the merger makes possible.”

Earlier this year, Ringling College and LLA announced plans to merge as of June 1, 2016. The addition of PSA to this arrangement will benefit all three organizations by furthering each organization’s reach, aggregating resources, building a larger community of adult learners in the area, and offering the convenience of finding all three course listings—and a community of passionate and curious adult learners—in one place. Dr. Jerry Bladdick, assistant vice president for Continuing Studies and Special Programs at Ringling notes, “All three mergers will allow Ringling College to offer the widest menu of both continuing studies and lifelong learning classes in all of southwest Florida.” He adds, “Our community outreach will be strengthened by both the College’s presence in markets such as Englewood and Longboat Key and the high quality of curriculum currently offered by both LLA and PSA.”

About Ringling College of Art and Design
For nearly 85 years, Ringling College of Art and Design has cultivated the creative spirit in students from around the globe. The private, not-for-profit fully accredited college offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in eleven disciplines and the Bachelor of Arts in two. The College’s rigorous curriculum employs the studio model of teaching and immediately engages students through a comprehensive, first-year program that is both specific to the major of study and focused on the liberal arts. The Ringling College teaching model ultimately shapes students into highly employable and globally aware artists and designers. www.ringling.edu

Pierian Spring Academy was founded as a non-profit lifelong learning institution in 1999. PSA instructors are retired and active professors in numerous academic fields, along with orchestra and jazz musicians, ballet and theater professionals, art critics, scientists and nature lovers. This diverse group of experts organizes classes —four to six weeks long—to instruct, entertain and exercise the minds of people who seek intellectual challenge, fun, and a chance to interact with other lifelong learners in Sarasota/Manatee. PSA classes are not only about gathering facts, but also about delving into ideas and thinking anew about the arts, government, literature, medicine, science, nanotechnology, sports, film, history, nature, economics, and even spirituality or astronomy.
About the Lifelong Learning Academy of Sarasota
The Lifelong Learning Academy offers educational opportunities for adults to pursue new interests, expand intellectual horizons and enrich their lives. Courses cover a wide range of stimulating topics and are taught by scholars, retired faculty members and professional practitioners. Courses are taught in an engaging, collaborative manner where learning results in the development of civic awareness, ongoing learning communities of peers and intellectual and cultural connections to our communities. As a private not for profit, LLA has served the Sarasota- Manatee region for the past 17 years growing lifelong learning program offerings in number and variety as the demand for services has grown. The Academy is funded by donations and registration fees and led by an Executive Director and volunteer Board of Directors. www.LLA-SM.org

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