University's social media certificate program wins national award
8:13 a.m., April 15, 2016--The University of Delaware’s Social Media Marketing Strategy Certificate is the 2016 recipient of the national Outstanding Program Award for a noncredit program from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).
Program creator Meredith Chapman accepted the award for UD at last week’s UPCEA Annual Conference in San Diego.
National Medal of Science
As program director and lead instructor, Chapman developed the program in cooperation with UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS), aiming the curriculum at businesses, nonprofits and working professionals who need current, practical expertise to help them navigate the fast-expanding social media landscape for themselves and for their organizations.
“From the beginning, we set out to make this program a unique experience for participants, and we are honored by this national recognition that validates our efforts,” said Chapman, who is also UD’s director for digital communications. “As one of the first social media programs in the country, we knew a key differentiator would be providing an experience that goes beyond learning in the classroom. We challenge the students to put what they learn into practice by translating needs and goals into tangible strategies that they execute throughout the program.”
Chapman has led UD’s social media presence from the outset, developing institutional guidelines and strategies for social media, and positioning UD as an early thought leader among educational institutions leveraging social media. She has received national recognition in the field, and was a 2015 Leadership Delaware fellow.
In addition, Chapman serves as adjunct faculty in UD’s Department of Communication and Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses on digital marketing, social media and public relations.
“When we first launched the certificate program in 2013, we knew a community connection would be important, because social media is a growing field and many organizations are at a loss for where to even begin,” explained Chapman. “By partnering with local nonprofits, the students are able to see their ideas come to fruition while also helping an organization leverage the power of social media to achieve their goals. To date, we have helped six nonprofits develop successful social media marketing strategies in addition to running campaigns that have helped launch their social media efforts, celebrate milestones and meet fundraising goals, all through social media.”
Client-partners have included Preston’s Playground, Girls on the Run Delaware, Friends of Newark K-9 Officers, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Delaware, Bellevue Community Center in Wilmington and the dropout prevention program, Communities in Schools of Delaware.
“The applied learning component provides a real world, hands-on approach that benefits the students, community nonprofits and contributes to UD’s community engagement efforts,” commented Soma Chakrabarti, director, PCS, who nominated the program for UPCEA’s award process. “This award recognizes the program’s innovative approaches to community engagement and experiential learning, which I believe are replicable at other UPCEA member institutions.”
The program’s students and graduates consistently cite the program’s real-life learning opportunities and the instructors’ real-world expertise as central to their learning experience.
“Social media is changing every day, so this certificate program is constantly evolving too,” added Chapman. “Our schedule includes virtual sessions where we can bring in top social media talent from across the country, industry leaders like Erik Qualman of Socialnomics and Brian Selandar of The Whistle as well as innovative businesses such as Mayo Clinic, AAA, FedEx, Capital One and even Governor Jack Markell. The mix of case studies with real-time strategy development sets our students apart once they graduate because they have gained not only an education but also built a portfolio to support their hands-on learning.”
The program’s faculty team also includes Holly Norton, social media manager in UD’s Communications and Public Affairs; and Matthieu Plourde, educational technologist with IT Academic Technology Services. Joining them is UD alumna Lisa Ford, a director of digital marketing at Capital One.
"This program provides an outstanding example of cooperation among UD units to provide a state-of-the-art educational opportunity and in turn reach out to serve the general community,” added James Broomall, associate vice provost, PCS. “It is wonderful for our certificate program to be recognized by the premier association for professional and continuing studies."
Photos by Evan Krape