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A special commencement edition of Outlook celebrating the class of 2003 and this year's outstanding faculty and staff will hit the streets on June 13. Included will be a message from President Robert Glidden, the year's top stories and profiles of several notable students. Commencement ceremonies will be June 7 (Osteopathic Medicine), June 13 (graduate) and June 14 (undergraduate).

 

June 6, 2003
Innovative program offers a second chance at completing degrees
By Bro Krift

Ohio University educates many bright scholars, some of whom are offered professional opportunities before they even receive their diplomas. These students may become highly successful, but still yearn for the sense of accomplishment a college degree brings. Thanks to the innovative Project Closure, College of Communication students have a way to realize their academic dreams.

Steve Orth, the college's student services specialist, created Project Closure.

"I realized that there were more and more off-campus class options for these former students - now adults with responsibilities - who were unable to return to Athens," Orth says. "I created Project Closure in 1999 for working College of Communication non-graduates who fell a few credits short of an official commencement."

Before the program existed, "Today" anchor Matt Lauer encountered similar experiences. His dilemma - shared by other former college students - helped inspire Project Closure.

Lauer left Athens in 1979 to work at a television station, only four credits shy of graduation. Despite his professional accomplishments and notoriety, Lauer still hungered for his degree. After completing his academic requirements nearly 20 years following his departure, Lauer became the Class of 1997's most famous alumnus, even speaking at his own commencement.

Through Project Closure, non-graduates are contacted and encouraged to enroll in distance-learning courses. After students' needs are determined, they can choose from four options for completion: Correspondence courses, course credit by exam, independent learning projects and online classes. So far, 20 students have completed their undergraduate work with the assistance of Project Closure.

Lisa Jacobs and Roger Wilkerson, who attended Ohio in the early '80s, both received their degrees during winter quarter of 2003. Each accepted a lucrative job before graduation, and never thought it possible to finish their requirements. Nearly 20 years after leaving Athens, Jacobs enrolled in a keyboarding course, receiving her credit by exam. Wilkerson earned his credit by writing a paper on his professional work experiences.

"If it wasn't for Steve, it wouldn't have happened as quickly as I needed it," says Jacobs, on deadline when she entered the program. "I needed my diploma in 90 days. And it happened."

A great feature of Project Closure is its ability to help these students receive their degree in a fairly short amount of time. However, these students are held to the same standards as those enrolled on-campus.

The difference is that Project Closure offers a different type of learning experience and the participants must balance their career with the stress of a final paper, or a final exam.

Bro Krift is a graduate assistant for external relations within the College of Communication. Debbie Ehrman, a student writer for University Communications and Marketing, contributed to this story

 

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