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UCLA Extension reaches residents, professionals in downtown L.A.

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When it came time for USC alumnus Sergio Sais to upgrade his accounting skills, UCLA, his alma mater's cross-town rival presented the most compelling educational option. And he didn't even need to drive to Westwood to attend classes; he simply walked from his office at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters to a new downtown learning center, UCLA Extension at Figueroa Courtyard.

Sais was among the first group of students to take classes at the new UCLA Extension location during a Summer Quarter preview of the facility. The new 13-classroom downtown campus officially opens at the beginning of Extension's Fall Quarter on Sept. 20.

"This new center is perfect for people who live and work in downtown L.A.," said Sais, a performance auditor with the LAPD. "I like to take classes to improve my skills, so it's good to know there is a resource for that at a convenient downtown location near my work."

UCLA Extension has continuously offered courses and programs in downtown Los Angeles since the institution first opened its doors in September 1917. At its new Figueroa Courtyard location, Extension will serve a rapidly expanding population of professionals who work downtown as well as a burgeoning community of downtown residents.

The new facility represents a significant increase in UCLA Extension's downtown presence. In 2007-08, Extension offered 66 classes at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo; total enrollment for that year was slightly more than 1,300 students. This Fall Quarter alone, UCLA Extension has scheduled 62 courses at the Figueroa Courtyard facility and has projected an enrollment exceeding 3,200 for the coming year.

Soon after assuming his leadership position at UCLA, Chancellor Gene Block set specific goals aimed at marshaling the intellectual resources of the university to improve the quality of life of the people of Los Angeles.

"UCLA Extension's new downtown facility exemplifies our commitment to Los Angeles," Block said. "It enables us to share knowledge with continuing education students right where they live or work and helps us fulfill our mission as a public university."

At a VIP reception held on Sept. 4, UCLA Extension Dean Cathy Sandeen said Extension's new downtown location will help solidify the bonds between UCLA and the community of greater Los Angeles. "It has always been my belief that as individuals grow and succeed through continuing education, society as a whole benefits. UCLA Extension at Figueroa Courtyard opens the doors to education for a vibrant population of professionals and residents in downtown L.A."

An open house and information session will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 17, from 5:30-8 p.m. The event will feature Michael McCain, a partner at the Battalia Winston International executive search company, who will speak on "Changing Careers in a Changing Economy."

Advisers from UCLA Extension's academic departments will be on hand to help prospective students select their best educational options. New and current students can receive a 10% discount on downtown fall courses when they register at that event. All UCLA employees who work at least 50% time can enroll in UCLA Extension courses at a 25% discount.

UCLA Extension at Figueroa Courtyard is located at 261 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. The facility is within walking distance of Metro Red Line stations; secure on-site parking is available. Find more information at uclaextension.edu/figcourtyard.

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