Central Michigan University's Board of Trustees today directed creation of a committee to study expansion and future direction of the university's nationally ranked online programs.
Chair Bill Kanine said interest in online learning across the state, nation and globe, as well as among on-campus students, means CMU needs to be prepared for further strategic growth in this competitive arena.
CMU the past two years was ranked No. 1 and No. 13 in the nation in online undergraduate programs. It was ranked No. 1 in online bachelor's and graduate programs for veterans, in the top five for online graduate programs for teachers and administrators, and in the top 25 for its online MBA.
"CMU's online rankings are a tremendous point of pride for us," Kanine said. "We can't sit on our laurels. We want President Ross and the university community to embrace this opportunity. We need to maintain our position, our leadership.
"As a board, we are focused on making education accessible to all who wish to pursue their dreams, no matter where they live. The committee will work to expand CMU's national leadership and expertise in online learning."
The board unanimously directed the president and provost to appoint a committee, in conjunction with the Academic Senate, to review online programs at CMU and at other institutions.
The committee is to submit a comprehensive report by Nov. 15, addressing:
- How the quantity and delivery of CMU's online programs compares with other institutions; and
- Opportunities for improving and expediting the delivery of additional, high-quality online academic programs and courses.
Trustee Robb Wardrop said during committee meetings Wednesday that he recently attended a conference of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. While there, he heard board members and faculty of other universities readily acknowledge CMU's leadership in online educational delivery.
"This is a data-gathering mission for the board," Wardrop said. "This is an area that is developing quickly, and we need to do it right and put our resources in the right spot."
CMU President George E. Ross said online learning is a subject that involves the entire university.
"We will involve faculty leadership, we will involve leadership throughout all divisions across the university, including students," he said during Wednesday's committee meetings. "It's about students, it's about education delivery, it's about access and the financial impact on this university."
Trustee Bill Weideman, chair of the Trustees-Faculty Liaison Committee, said this morning the online discussion does not come at the expense of face-to-face classes.
"It's not an either/or. We're trying to grow both: on-campus and online classes. The way students want classes delivered is changing. Our students are global … and some are in the workforce, so there's greater demand for online."
CMU was a pioneer in 1971 when it introduced face-to-face learning opportunities across the state for working adults and those with families. Since then, CMU's Global Campus has grown to nearly 50 locations across North America, including 23 military bases. Its online offerings began in 1994.
CMU's online offerings are described here.