Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Part One of a Two Part Exclusive Interview with Dr. Susan Aldridge

An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Susan Aldridge
President, University of Maryland University College

In a two part series, Dr. Susan Aldridge, President of the University of Maryland University College responds to eight questions from Education The Natural Bridge (ETNB).

Dr. Aldridge, how long have you served as President of University of Maryland University College?

Dr. Aldridge: I just celebrated my fourth anniversary as president of UMUC. I came to UMUC in February 2006 after serving as vice chancellor for Troy University’s University College and eCampus in Alabama.

ETNB: What makes UMUC a unique learning experience for students?

Dr. Aldridge: At UMUC, our mission is to provide adult students with high-quality, affordable, flexible educational opportunities that meet those students’ individual needs. Whether courses are taken on-site (at one of our more than 150 locations around the world), online, or in a hybrid format that combines online and on-site study, UMUC offers students a variety of options to meet their education needs. Even if a student pursues a degree solely online, we offer many platforms for student and professor interaction. So while they are not face-to-face, online students still feel engaged through course forums and blogs. The vast majority of our degree programs can be completed completely online through our virtual campus, where students are able to access their classes from anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Additionally, our faculty members are typically scholar-practitioners who are currently working in the fields in which they teach, bringing the real world into the classroom.

UMUC also has a rich history of providing higher education to our nation’s military personnel for more than 60 years, with operations in Europe and Asia. Our university provides on-site courses to service members worldwide, including places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is the enrollment of UMUC?

Dr. Aldridge: UMUC is the largest public university, serving approximately 90,000 students worldwide and offering 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs online and on-site. While most of our students choose to take at least one course online, UMUC also offers face-to-face instruction at 21 locations throughout Maryland and in 27 countries and more than 150 locations worldwide. Additionally, UMUC has alliance agreements with all of Maryland’s 16 community colleges, and nearly 20 community colleges throughout the country, allowing students to transfer seamlessly from a two-year to a four-year degree.

ETNB: How has technology been used to enhance student enrollment, student services, and student learning at UMUC?

Dr. Aldridge: As one of the largest providers of online higher education in the nation, we have made it our mission to offer our online students the same high-quality education that students enjoy in our on-site classrooms. Having the highest quality of technology enables UMUC to efficiently deliver courses, make the transfer processes seamless, and the classroom experience comfortable and easily accessible.

UMUC hosts virtual open houses each semester, offering potential students the opportunity to be introduced to the university from the comfort of their own home, with advisors, staff, and faculty on hand to answer questions about degree programs, the application and registration process, and financial aid.

Once students enroll, our proprietary course-delivery platform, WebTycho, allows them to access UMUC anywhere they have Web access, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The software facilitates course delivery and provides an interactive classroom where students have direct and convenient access to professors, course syllabi, assignments, study and discussion groups, and the university’s online library, which boasts access to more than 100 premium databases of books, periodicals, and research, many of them full-text.

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