Lessons in learning

Earlier this year, Paul Feingold succeeded Arnold Tew to become the 16th president of Myers University. But it was Feingold’s work as Myers’ academic vice president that earned him his current job and garnered his recognition as a Visionary in the 2001 Innovation in Business awards.

Institutions of higher education can teach students or change lives. Feingold opts for the latter. He understands the community Myers serves and uses that knowledge to redefine the school’s market focus and create key niche programs.

The results are impressive — approximately 1,400 enrolled students, a staff of 100 and annual revenue of more than $10 million at a university founded as Folsom Business College in 1848 to help Cleveland gain full-city status.

Feingold did not end up in Cleveland due to the hijacking of his plane, nor did he accidentally get lost in the maze of barrel-lined Ohio roadways. The business professor from California came to the Lake Erie shores with a clear purpose — betterment of the school and the community.

As an administrator in California, he employed creativity with graduate programs but sought an opportunity to do the same with undergraduate studies.

“I’ve always looked at problems not as problems but as challenges,” Feingold says, adding that he is simply looking to accomplish change.

In the early 1990s, Myers was seeking a strong identity. Because Feingold dropped out of college, eventually finishing his undergraduate degree by going to school during the day and working at night, he brought an unique perspective to his academic vice president position. By analyzing his own life as a father, husband, part-time student and employee, he folded innovative programs into the traditional business school.

“I know the problems,” Feingold says. “Where do my innovations come from? The school of hard knocks. We’ve provided opportunities for people to go to school. The business world benefits because they have a better educated work force.”

With satellite facilities into six suburban Academic Centers, students can attend Myers in the communities where they live and work. Feingold’s commitment to that all-important balance between personal and professional lives led him to develop diverse learning methods — Myers is the first Ohio institution to offer degrees online for both undergraduate and MBA programs.

Knowing that time constraints, business experience and career aspirations drive and differentiate the adult student, Feingold designed a 30-credit-hour, one-year MBA program. And, understanding that teachers in an urban setting have classroom problems not seen in rural communities, he set his sights on education programs specifically designed for the urban educator. He says the next step is “to prepare teachers who have experience in urban issues and teach the kids how to cope and overcome.”

As corporate colleges become the norm for extended training and degree-seeking employees, Myers University Corporate College Partnership program is gaining quick acceptance within Cleveland’s corporate community. Businesses utilize its online capabilities and faculty to offer accredited degrees, as well as noncredit certificates in areas that can have an immediate impact on job skills.

Feingold says his message to the business community is simple and straightforward: “Stop talking about the problems and let’s start solving them,” he says. “Let’s take some chances and move ahead.”

How to reach: Myers University, (216) 696-9000

Myers University website