The University of Oregon is in the process of hiring an associate vice provost for online and distance education. The position is new and part of UO’s effort to better coordinate and support online education.
Part of the role of the new AVP will be to determine what students are looking for in online education.
“The primary goal for online education is to support undergraduate student success,” said Scott Pratt, executive vice provost for academic affairs. “What online will do as its first priority is provide online and hybrid course options for our current students.”
Two other goals of online education at UO are to create a few targeted masters online and hybrid programs and create online-only undergraduate degree programs.
“I think our expectation is that our undergraduate students will have online education as a part of their program, not the whole of their program,” said Pratt.
In the long run, Pratt said that there should be some options that allow students to earn a degree online.
UO offers no degree programs that are exclusively online, while Oregon State University offers 50 of them. OSU is ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for online education, according to OSU.
UO is looking to hire someone for the position that has had previous experience developing programs at another research university, according to Pratt.
In 2015, over 6,000 UO students took an online course. Last year that number grew to around 8,000, according to Pratt.
The university is testing late-add courses that are less than four credits to give more class options to students who drop classes. These classes would satisfy general education requirements and will be shorter and allow students to do them on their own time.
This term, there were 79 courses that were listed as distance or online education, according to DuckWeb.
“We are kind of late to the game, and so we have done a lot of looking at how a place like ours — a research university — doesn’t have a well-developed online program at this point,” said Pratt.
“Arizona State and Oregon State both have huge online programs. We are not in a position to compete directly with the kinds of things they do, but there are other things we can do,” said Pratt.
The hiring process will be overseen by a 10-person search committee made up of members of the UO faculty and staff. The AVP’s pay will correspond with their experience.
The university is hoping to hire someone for the position before the start of fall term next year.
There will be a town hall on May 2 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. to allow students and faculty to learn more about the search and the university’s vision for online and distance education.