Campus to assist in developing system-wide
R. Buchholz, Chronicle staff
and administrators are preparing to work through issues around the
development of a system-wide distance learning program. The Board
of Trustees approved moving forward with the project at its Aug.
2 meeting on the Worcester campus.
At the meeting,
members of the board expressed some urgency about getting the proposed
"UMass Online" underway.
is a race," said trustee Robert Mahoney. "We'll know by
December who will win in New England. It's ours to win, but it's
not going to be won automatically. ... Our strength is our risk.
Ironically, because we have done so much work, it's harder to integrate."
faculty are already doing this," said Vice President for Academic
Affairs Selma Botman. "What we will be doing is bringing together
the disparate parts into an integrated organization."
U.S. Army's recent announcement that it will spend $600 million
over the next six years on distance education for its personnel,
Harvard joining the ranks of institutions involved in distance learning,
and the state's board of higher education granting a license to
the state's first completely online college this month, speed may
be a necessary ingredient to success.
trick, say campus officials, who also said speed is important, will
be to iron out a myriad of issues related to governance, quality
control and intellectual property, among other things, some of the
very issues that make integration harder.
chairs of councils and committees of the senate have been sent the
Pricewaterhouse Coopers report [on the possibility of distance learning
through the University system]," said Ernie May, Faculty Senate
secretary. "We're going into overdrive."
May said he is enthusiastic about the idea of UMass Online, he wants
to do everything he can to make sure the details are fully worked
out to ensure the success of the effort.
we're competing against something like the U.K.'s Open University,
which recently entered the U.S. market, we're kind of a start up,"
he said. "The competitive conditions within the distance learning
industry look pretty treacherous to me. But face-to-face contact
[part of the University's plan]that's a good selling point.
But then you're getting into a cost area."
Helgesen, vice chancellor for Outreach, is also both enthusiastic
and concerned about costs.
faculty here are already fully committed to activities in teaching,
research and outreach, and as we look to a major commitment to distance
learning, we're going to have to look at a major commitment to increasing
the number of faculty who can offer distance education," he
way you do that is you frontload the budget by making an initial
investment of one-time money to allow the program to start.
also looking at issues of intellectual property and quality control
and issues for the campus about governance. Anytime you have a new
environment like this, you have a new set of questions you have
to address, a new set of policies, a new set of procedures.
"If you ask faculty, you get
one response; if you ask department heads, you get another response;
if you ask deans, you get another response. From the standpoint
of the campus administration, we have some substantial issues relative
to how we distribute new revenue generated by distance learning.
of these things are negatives, they are simply things that have
to be addressed as we enter this new and exciting component to our
Office is planning an open meeting with faculty and staff to discuss
distance education 3-4:30 p.m. Sept. 28 on campus. President William
M. Bulger, Botman, and Lowell campus Chancellor William Hogan are
scheduled to attend. The location will be announced when the President's
Office makes its formal invitation to campus staff. Hogan and Botman
co-chair the Distance Learning Transition Advisory Committee, and
Vice President for Economic Development Thomas Chmura chairs a transition
team that will provide the President's Office with technical expertise,