Pam Benoit

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Interim roles extended and search for vice provost for e-learning and strategic partnerships underway

Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit recently outlined her plans for leadership roles in the areas of Regional Higher Education, eLearning OHIO and community college partnerships.  

Regional Higher Education
In an email to regional campus faculty, Benoit announced that Jim Fonseca and Rich Greenlee will continue in their current interim roles until June 30, 2013.  

Fonseca has been serving as the interim executive dean of Regional Higher Education since July 1. Fonseca replaced Dan Evans who retired as executive dean at the conclusion of AY 2010-2011.  

Benoit indicated that Fonseca was doing an excellent job. She pointed to his extensive experience with regional campuses and knowledge of the university as being key factors in his success.  

In her email Benoit wrote, "Jim is providing strong leadership across the five regional campuses and has been instrumental in a variety of university initiatives."

Reflecting on the prospect of an additional year as executive dean Fonseca said, "I am extremely pleased to continue my role as interim executive dean of Regional Higher Education for another year. It is a pleasure to work with Provost Pam Benoit and her administrative team."

He noted that, "With the support of our strong regional deans and my colleagues at Athens and at all the regional campuses, it will be another good year for Regional Higher Education."

Greenlee will continue both his regular appointment as dean of Ohio University-Eastern and his interim appointment as dean of Ohio University-Zanesville.  

Greenlee announced at the end of last academic year that he would be retiring in June 2012. However, he has found the work of leading the two campuses to be interesting and enjoyable.

"It has been a pleasure to serve the faculty, staff and students of two outstanding campuses with a long history of serving the higher education needs of their respective communities," Greenlee said. "I also have enjoyed the opportunity to explore collaborations between the two campuses that will enhance their abilities to provide even better educational opportunities for our students. I look forward to continuing this important work in the coming year."  

Benoit said that she is grateful that Greenlee has agreed to postpone his retirement and continue for an additional year.

"Rich has been able to build on the strong relationship that exists between Eastern and Zanesville. The leadership that he has provided has enabled both campuses to thrive."  

Greenlee took on the dual dean role in July 1, when Fonseca, who served as dean of Zanesville for 13 years, became interim executive dean.

E-learning and strategic partnerships
A search is now underway for a vice provost for e-learning and strategic partnerships. Benoit explained that the vice provost position is not new. It was originally filled by Charles Bird, as vice provost for university outreach, and subsequently by Dan Evans, as vice provost for e-learning and strategic initiatives.

"Over the past four years the unit, which was previously called University Outreach and is now called eLearning OHIO, has seen significant changes," said Benoit. "The demand for an Ohio University education delivered through a variety of platforms has grown on all campuses. Likewise our partnerships with community colleges for degree completion programs have expanded significantly."  

Benoit indicated that in order to keep academic quality at the forefront as e-learning and community college partnerships expand, she decided to reorient the mission of the unit and make it one of her direct reports.

"When I arrived at Ohio University, the mission of University Outreach was external. The focus was on finding enrollment opportunities and then developing ways to make those opportunities realities," said Benoit. "The unit was successful in its efforts and made it possible for the University to establish a presence in online education."

In 2010, Benoit asked the unit to move from an external to an internal orientation.  

"Using the groundwork that University Outreach laid, academic units started to take the lead on the development of online programming. As a result what was needed as our efforts matured was an academic service unit that concentrated on providing expert in-house assistance to academic units in designing effective e-learning programs."  

To better reflect its new mission, the unit changed its name in the spring of 2011 to eLearning Ohio.  

Ohio University's work in e-learning is paralleled by its commitment to provide bachelor degree completion partnership programs with community colleges. Over 1,000 students have been admitted to Ohio University through these partnerships since the program was launched in fall of 2008. The number of community college partners has grown to thirteen.

"I can't say enough good things about the work that Dan Evans and his staff have done in creating opportunities for students who want an Ohio University degree but cannot obtain one without the flexibility provided through our partnership agreements," said Benoit. "The state is interested in increasing the number of Ohioans with college degrees, and Ohio University is continuing and growing its efforts to do just that."

Over the summer, in light of two personnel changes, Benoit began to revise the role and responsibilities of the vice provost position.

Marsha Ham, who served as the executive director of lifelong and distance education, joined the University of New Haven as an associate vice president and dean. Evans, under the auspices of the early retirement program, returned to his role as vice provost for e-learning and strategic initiatives but with a focus on continuing his work with community college partnerships.

With the departure of Ham and the need for Evans to concentrate on community college partnerships, Benoit asked Ed Yost, director of executive graduate education and development and emeriti associate professor in the College of Business, to serve as the interim executive director of eLearning OHIO until a national search for a vice provost for e-learning and strategic partnerships was completed.

Benoit chose Yost because of his extensive experience with online programs as both a faculty member and an administrator.  

"Ed understands the importance of eLearning's new mission and has been instrumental in helping the unit to make progress on a variety of critical issues," said Benoit. "He is the leader that was needed during this time of transition."

In drafting the position description, Benoit emphasized that the new vice provost must have the skills and experience needed to serve the efforts of the entire University in the integration of technology into teaching and learning along with the ability to implement and maintain vital partnerships with community colleges.

"What is required is an individual who has demonstrated excellence in her or his teaching, who understands the need to engender and sustain quality, and who wants to work closely with deans, directors, chairs, and faculty in all aspects of e-learning and community college partnerships," said Benoit.

Applications are being sought for the position. A description is posted on the EVPP website at Review of applications will begin on March 1. Members of the search committee are:

  • Cindy Anderson, associate professor, Sociology and Anthropology, Committee Co-Chair

  • David Koonce, associate professor, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Committee Co-Chair

  • Deborah Henderson, associate professor, School of Nursing

  • Carissa Anderson, director of articulation services, eLearning Ohio University

  • Craig Cornell, vice provost for enrollment management

  • Shelley Ruff, director of application and information services, Office of Information Technology

  • Hugh Sherman, dean, College of Business

  • Jim Smith, dean, Lancaster Campus

  • Tim Vickers, associate director, Center for Teaching and Learning

Sherman, whose college has been one of the leaders in the development of e-learning programs, underscored the importance of the position for Ohio University's future.

"Given the rapid growth of online education, which is averaging 20 percent per year, it is imperative that major public institutions of higher education become involved in providing high quality programs to adult learners," Sherman said. "Online education provides Ohio University the ability to provide educational opportunities to working adults who want to improve their quality of life by completing a bachelor's degree or obtaining a professional graduate degree."