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Mon, July 20, 2015

We're going the distance

Soon after I became chancellor more than three years ago, the Missouri S&T community began working on a comprehensive strategic plan that focuses on the needs of our customers now and as we move forward. From the outset, it became clear that a key group we needed to focus on and invest in was our distance and online students. Quite simply, online educational opportunities are a key to our future, and robust, high-quality offerings are not only welcomed but expected by our students, employers and other investors.

I’m pleased to say that Missouri S&T continues to make great strides in this area, from increasing the number of degree and course offerings to gaining national recognition from the media for the quality we offer.

In this month’s newsletter, I’ll focus on distance and online students – one of our six key customer groups. I’ll also share a few lessons vital to on-campus and remote students from last month’s Women in Leadership Conference.

Connecting to students wherever they are

Last fall, Missouri S&T had a record enrollment of 8,642. We saw increases in women, international students and those enrolled in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business. One group that helped to push our numbers into new territory was distance and online learners.

Nearly one-third of our students took at least one online class last fall, representing a 43 percent increase in just one year. Online courses serve not only our distance students, but also help students continue to progress academically while on co-op or fit in a needed course if a scheduling conflict arises. Some courses are offered online and face to face, so students can choose which option best meets their needs and learning styles. We're even piloting an online biology lab that includes an at-home lab kit.

In addition, we offer a full portfolio of professional development opportunities, from classes to maintain professional certifications to educational conferences.

In a recent survey, more than half of our distance students said Missouri S&T’s academic programs and reputation drew them to our distance programs, and flexibility topped the list of features they like about our programs.

As I shared earlier this year, these programs are helping to raise our reputation and visibility. In January, more than a dozen online graduate programs, in the areas of engineering, computer information technology and business, were recognized by U.S. News and World Report as being among the best in the country.

Missouri S&T has 17 online graduate programs and more than 50 graduate certificate programs in addition to a wide range of professional development programs. The offerings range from online training in paint technology to a Ph.D. in systems engineering. No matter what your interest area, it is indeed a good time to be a Miner.

Education leader going global

Devising an overall distance and online delivery strategy is an important part of our strategic plan, and last week we welcomed a new leader to campus who will help us do just that. Dr. Anthony R. Petroy is our new assistant vice chancellor for global learning.

Dr. Petroy will work within the Division of Global and Strategic Partnerships at Missouri S&T to develop a comprehensive strategy for online and distance programs, pursue opportunities to expand their reach, and anticipate coming trends.

Before coming to Rolla, Dr. Petroy served as assistant vice president for online and off-campus programs at Robert Morris University.

My many thanks to Dr. Matt O’Keefe for his excellent service to the university as interim assistant vice chancellor of global learning.

Sharing strategies for success, balance

Last month, I was honored to present at the Women in Leadership Conference, hosted by the University of Missouri System and held in Columbia. Missouri S&T was well-represented at the systemwide conference — in fact, six of us from Missouri S&T were presenters. In addition to sharing some background on my journey to leadership, I had the opportunity to sit in on a number of breakout sessions, including one hosted by Bridgette Betz, Missouri S&T’s director of student financial assistance. Bridgette shared one of her tips for balancing family and work obligations: being present. That means that when you’re in a meeting, be engaged with those you’re with and avoid checking phones or otherwise being mentally elsewhere. More importantly, when you’re with family, make sure your attention is focused on them, not work. As Bridgette shared, if we can be more present with those we’re with, it can go a long way to finding that elusive thing we call work-life balance.

Did you know?

Missouri S&T’s Video Communications Center provides video and web-based services to support distance education. Established in 1986, this center contributes to more than 110 classes per semester and supports 330 hours of live production per week.


I hope the rest of your summer is safe, restorative and enjoyable. I look forward to seeing many of you back on campus next month. And whether you access Missouri S&T in person or virtually, please follow me on Twitter @SandTChancellor for the latest news from Miner Nation.

Warmest regards,

Cheryl B. Schrader, Ph.D.
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