CMU trustees want to expand university’s online programming

QUICKREAD



Colorado Mesa University trustees met Thursday in part to discuss expanding the school’s online offerings.

Five bachelor’s programs currently are offered online through CMU, plus a variety of classes. Twenty-one percent of Colorado Mesa students take at least one class online, but no students have graduated yet from the university without ever taking a class on-campus, according to Jeanne Adkins, a Denver-area consultant CMU invited to Thursday’s meeting to discuss online strategy.

Adkins said the need for online programs is linked to an anticipated increase in enrollment of older, non-traditional students who cannot attend day classes and a need for more employees in certain professions that can utilize online education, such as nursing.

Nearly a third of all registered nurses in Colorado are 55 or older and nearing retirement today. With 1,300 to 1,500 new nurses needed each year to replace them, Adkins said it’s no coincidence the university’s registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing track online program is its “most successful.”

Colorado Mesa President Tim Foster said nursing is “probably the number one candidate” for online course expansion at the university. He said the school wants to expand online offerings to fill local staffing needs and gain extra funding while the future of state higher education dollars remains uncertain.

Foster said the university will consider partnering with an online education agency or pursuing an independent online expansion but will only look at one to three more online degree programs near-term.

“It will not be an entire duplication of our (on-campus) programs online,” he said.

Trustees may consider a package of proposals for online expansion — including a recommendation for who, if anyone, to work with on the expansion and how to market and manage new programming — as soon as their next meeting in August.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, trustees:

■ Approved a 2013-14 operating and capital budget that included a 4.88 percent increase year-over-year for tuition, which equates to an increase of $11.19 per credit hour for in-state undergraduates and $17.17 to $29.85 per credit hour for out-of-state undergraduates. Student meal plans will cost 4 percent more next school year and on-campus housing rates will increase by 1.5 to 7.4 percent, depending on where a student lives.

■ Directed the university to move forward with design and pre-construction work for the renovation and expansion project planned at Tomlinson Library.

■ Approved a new associate of science in agricultural science, professional certificate in personal training, graduate and undergraduate certificates in health information technology systems, and a technical certificate and associate of applied science in baking and pastry. Each program is scheduled to begin this summer or fall.


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