College in the Cloud- Part 3
HBU is the benchmark for a Christian-based, university education around the world. We will create online programs in the same approach as its on-campus counterpart – a university which cares about each student personally and academically. – Jay Spencer, DMin
HBU’s online expansion plans began in October 2014 with a task force that worked 14 months gathering data from hundreds of people about the characteristics of quality online education and how the University’s academics are perceived nationally. University leaders were exhilarated to hear that HBU is perceived as superior in its faculty, courses and approach to Christian education.
The task force’s second charge: develop a business plan for a significant online expansion. HBU was blessed to receive recommendations from the nation’s leading online educators. President Sloan led the group and the mutual conviction was the 12,000,000 people within a two-hundred-mile radius of Houston, the 2.7 million residents of Houston, in addition to the nation, provided HBU with a distinct advantage in digital higher education.
Dr. Steve Peterson led Liberty University’s online expansion program, which grew to nearly 100,000 students. His colleague, Dr. Jay Spencer, developed a K-12 online program with more than 5,000 students in the U.S. and 25 countries. After meeting Dr. Sloan and other HBU leaders, the two men decided to join the HBU staff with one aim: create a world-class digital campus. Dr. Sloan has great energy, spirit and commitment to quality, higher education, Peterson explained. We also enjoyed interacting with the student body. There is a palpable campus spirit.
Now at HBU, Peterson’s role as vice president for online/digital learning includes ensuring that the courses are packages that can be delivered effectively in an online format. As associate vice president for online/digital learning, Spencer is focused on connecting the online areas to those in residence, which also ensures continued University accreditation.
Pinky Pampell program plans
Action began in earnest after the team completed a comprehensive inventory of the University’s programs and services as well as a competitive analysis. It became clear that developing a strong digital/online infrastructure is critical to program success.
The program will roll out its curricula, entitled “specialty centers,” over time; its first include HBU’s most distinctive and comprehensive programs in Apologetics, Law and Liberty, and Strategic Innovation. Other centers that follow will be built around the scholarship of distinguished faculty. This fall, HBU will expand to 22 online programs and aims to increase its online student enrollment by 500 students its first year.
Accomplishing a mission to become the world’s leading Christian online university rests on God’s providence and, of course, inspiring individuals to embrace the effort. Positioned in Houston – one of the great cities – and with exceptional faculty, students, alumni and supporters, HBU expects to succeed in this goal. Its leaders are aiming to raise an additional $5 million to strategically digitally market the University’s online offerings to the next level.
President Sloan’s faith in the University’s future is strong. While we reflect on HBU’s unique history with the deepest gratitude, we look forward and invite others to find their place in our quest to change the world one life at a time.