ATHENS, Ohio (July 12, 2005) -- Ohio University's Office of Regional Higher Education was awarded the 2005 Blackburn Award at the 34th National Assembly of the American Association of University Administrators (AAUA), June 23-25. The Blackburn Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate creative solutions to common issues in higher education. The campus' expansion of off-campus master's degree programming prompted the award.
"We were recognized for our outreach program that extends the borders of our university and makes graduate programs available 'to the regional and beyond'," said Stephen Flaherty, Ph.D., associate vice president of Regional Higher Education.
Regional campuses originally served undergraduate freshmen and sophomores, under the service of traveling Athens-based faculty. Now, less than 5 percent of regional instruction is performed by Athens-based faculty.
Regional campus graduate programs began in 1985, to serve southeast Ohio teachers seeking masters' degrees. Cohort programs were founded to accommodate educators, offering rotating two-year programs, providing evening and weekend classes taught primarily by Athens-based faculty.
The regional campus master's programming extended from three graduate degrees (two in education and one in political science) up to 22 different master's degree offerings in various fields. Graduate programs on regional campuses include the same curriculum as Athens campus programs, and are sponsored in partnership with Regional Higher Education by university colleges, departments, and schools on a rotating basis.
Graduate programming forges ahead, in Flaherty's words, thanks to "simplicity and focus." In addition to the cohort program, technology helps to fulfill the regional graduate experience. Web-based and blended (part online, part face-to-face) classes, along with video conferencing, now help to deliver graduate curriculum. A new model for funding off-campus graduate programs is now under review.
"This award reflects the university's ability to make a strong and lasting commitment to even those citizens of southeast Ohio and beyond who cannot be on the Athens campus," Flaherty said. "Access and outreach must continue to be ever stronger in this university's mission."
The university's regional campuses have served southeast Ohio since 1946, when the first branch opened in Chillicothe. Campuses in Zanesville, Lancaster, Ironton and St. Clairsville soon followed. An additional graduate center linked to the Lancaster campus opened in 2000, to serve cohort graduate programs. Ohio University broke ground for the construction of a new Proctorville Center in Lawrence County on July 12.
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