The Tseng College originated in 1964 as the Extension Office of San Fernando Valley State College, which became California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in 1972.
In keeping with the CSUN mission of providing education to meet the workforce-preparation needs of the region's employers, the Extension Office offered professional- development courses and certificate programs that earned continuing-education units (CEUs) in a number of fields at off-campus locations in Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern and Inyo counties. The Extension Office also managed CSUN's on-campus summer session.
By 1976, Extension had become the Office of Continuing Education, which – though not yet designated as a college – had its own dean, James J. O'Donnell. During Dean O'Donnell's 20-year tenure, the number of courses and programs offered grew substantially. Their range also broadened to address both liberal-education and personal interests (such as creative writing, culinary arts, and horticulture) as well as career-related educational needs.
In the early 1980s, the Office of Continuing Education created a Division of Business and Industry Services in order to meet the needs of large San Fernando Valley employers who were not only sending their employees to CSUN for additional training but also seeking the capability to offer professional-development courses, programs and seminars at their own facilities. The majority of these courses were designed and taught by instructors from the Division of Business and Industry Services as well as representatives from leading local and regional professional associations.
In the mid-1990s, CSUN began transforming several of its divisions, offices and schools into colleges. In 1996, when Dean O'Donnell retired, the Office of Continuing Education was designated the College of Extended Learning (ExL), and Joyce Feucht-Haviar became dean. The following are selected highlights of her administration.
CSUN entered into an educational partnership with the County of Los Angeles for the creation of the Los Angeles County Training Academy. This trailblazing, county-state partnership was designed to address the county's succession and workforce training needs and required the participation of several local public educational institutions, including six California State University (CSU) campuses: Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge and Pomona. CSUN acted as prime contractor and program administrator, and ExL – in collaboration with the Center for Management and Organizational Development in CSUN's College of Business Administration and Economics – was responsible for the delivery of 14 custom-designed certificate programs for county employees as well as various workshops and skill-building courses.
CSUN offered its first fully online program – the M.S. in Communication Disorders and Sciences – through ExL in collaboration with the College of Health and Human Development. Two years later, 21 of the first online cohort's 24 CDS graduates took the national Praxis examination in speech-language pathology. Eighteen of these graduates passed the test on their first attempt, achieving a first-time passing rate of 90 percent. This performance considerably exceeded the national average of 75 percent and was statistically equivalent to the performance of graduates in CSUN's on-campus CDS program.
ExL launched CSUN's first "special-session" (i.e., non-state-supported) degree program: the Bachelor of Arts in Public Sector Management. This interdisciplinary program – created in collaboration with CSUN's Colleges of Arts, Media and Communication; Business and Economics; and Social and Behavioral Sciences – was the first CSUN degree program to be developed under a recent California State University (CSU) executive order eliminating a requirement that special-session (self-support) offerings mirror existing state-supported on-campus programs. This expansion of the special-session model provided CSUN with greater freedom to offer multidisciplinary programs designed for midcareer learners through ExL.
The College of Extended Learning was renamed the Roland Tseng College of Extended Learning in recognition of local businessman Roland Tseng's gift of Chinese antiquities valued at $38 million – the largest gift in the history of the California State University (CSU) system to that time. Also, in the summer of 2004, the college reported a 66 percent increase in revenue over the previous five-year period. According to Dean Feucht-Haviar, this dramatic growth resulted from a decision made in 1999 to change the mix of the college's offerings to "better fulfill its mission of extending the University's research and teaching strengths to those in the community who would best benefit from them: namely, midcareer professionals."
In a CSU-system first, CSUN's Master of Public Administration program was offered in the cohort format through the Tseng College. The college now runs dozens of CSUN MPA cohorts from Santa Barbara (where the first cohort was introduced) to Chino in addition to the open-enrollment (non-cohort) program offered on campus and the online cohort, launched in 2012. With more than 2,000 graduates since 1985, CSUN's MPA is the largest such program in California.
Los Angeles County renewed its workforce training partnership with CSUN for another three years and changed the Academy's name to Los Angeles County Learning Academy to reflect a broadening of its mission. As of May 2005, more than 4,100 county employees had been trained through the Academy, and another 2,500 were trained before the program's conclusion in 2008. Among the positive outcomes described in a report to the Board of Supervisors, the director of personnel for the county's Department of Human Resources cited the networking opportunities provided for employees of the county's 37 departments as follows: "As a result of Academy certificate programs being cohort-based, graduates have formed ongoing networks and continue to share information and advice."
The Tseng College increased its emphasis on university-credit programs – both degree and certificate. Developed in collaboration with other CSUN colleges, graduate-credit certificate programs are designed specifically to address the educational needs of working professionals who – as the world of work becomes more demanding and multidisciplinary – will likely find it necessary to return to the university for further study at various times over their career spans.
Through the Tseng College, CSUN expanded its international presence by entering into a partnership to develop a new university – Al Buraimi University College (BUC) – in Oman. The Tseng College has been recognized for its ability to create custom-designed educational programs for international clients for more than 30 years.
The Tseng College introduced its "stackable" certificate-program concept, through which university credits earned in a certificate program that is linked to a graduate-degree program can be applied to satisfaction of that degree-program's graduation requirements, resulting in greater flexibility for the working professional. CSUN's MPA program is the first in the CSU to implement this option, which is of particular benefit to working professionals.
CSUN's Intensive English Program celebrated its 35th year. Since 1977, more than 12,000 IEP students from approximately 40 countries have completed this university-study-preparation program, which is administered by the Tseng College. In 2010, IEP also became an official Cambridge International English-Language Testing System (IELTS) pre-testing center. CSUN's IEP has been an Educational Testing Service (ETS) official Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC®) testing center since 2003 and an ETS Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL®) iBT (internet-based test) testing center since 2006.