Chancellors of the three UI campuses presented their initial plans for the future of the university’s online degree programs – including more intercampus collaboration and blended learning – at the July 23 UI Board of Trustees meeting at UIC.
“We believe that what we are proposing is extremely congruent with the mission of our university,” UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares said. “We have an opportunity to contribute to making this university very distinctive.”
In May, trustees passed a resolution to restructure Global Campus, making each campus responsible for designing and implementing its own online degree programs. The chancellors were directed to work together to create an overall plan.
Calling the new structure the “e-Learning Initiative,” the chancellors explained that the program would be designed around the principles of access, academic and financial integrity, accountability, innovation and intercampus collaboration.
“We have decided to leverage the combined expertise of the different campuses when it makes good sense to do so,” said Allen-Meares, who outlined the plan.
The campuses will work with community colleges to offer online baccalaureate degree completion programs and expand online opportunities to earn certificates and graduate and professional degrees, Allen-Meares said.
The initiative will provide more opportunities for blended learning, letting students enroll in both on-site and online courses.
“I think this is an idea whose time has arrived,” Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman said.
The online initiative is expected to add 4,000 students universitywide and cost $3.8 million over three to five years, said UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.
The new online structure will provide more opportunities for faculty members and graduate students to strengthen their online teaching skills, Ringeisen said.
“For an e-learning initiative to be successful, nothing is more important than the opportunity for faculty development,” he said.
Still, more work is needed before online programs begin, Allen-Meares said.
The trustees previously set a Jan. 1, 2010, target date for putting the new Global Campus structure into effect.
Presentations from current UI students who take online courses are expected at the board’s Sept. 10 meeting in Urbana.
Trustee Kenneth Schmidt led the board in a round of applause for the chancellors’ initial work on the project. “In a very short time, you’ve come up with a very understandable, workable solution to a problem that’s been around for two years,” he said.
At the beginning of the meeting, Board Chair Niranjan Shah read a prepared statement about an ongoing investigation of the university’s admissions procedures. The Admissions Review Commission, appointed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, has been looking into claims that some students were admitted to the Urbana-Champaign campus based on special interests.
“We are committed to ending any misuse of the admissions process – whether it is intentional or unintentional – wherever it may exist or from whomever it may emanate, including the University Board of Trustees,” the statement said in part.
University Vice President Walter Knorr presented a preliminary fiscal year 2011 budget request of $96.8 million, with the final budget request to be presented at the Sept. 10 meeting.
A preliminary capital proposal would ask state legislators for $238 million for Urbana projects.
Trustees approved appointments for three interim positions at Urbana.
Robert Easter will serve as interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, effective Aug. 17. He succeeds Linda Katehi, who is leaving the university to become chancellor of the University of California at Davis.
Robert Hauser will become interim dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on Aug. 17. He replaces Easter.
Walter Harrington will serve as interim dean of the College of Media, effective Aug. 16. He succeeds Ronald Yates, who will return to full-time faculty status.