Message from the CEO

A message from Interim CEO John Cunningham

UMass Online CEO John Cunningham

A botany professor at my undergraduate institution, Professor Sam Postlethwait, originated a slogan (circa 1960) to guide his teaching, namely that “students are a lot like people!”. Scientists strive to demonstrate points in ways that are “simple, yet elegant” and in this instance the observation is perhaps even truer now than ever.

UMass is online because its students find it accessible and comfortable to learn there. I worked with Sam making audio tapes that were synchronized with microscope slides and filmstrips so that students could use the “lecture and lab” materials to learn asynchronously- as long as the room was open to them (24/7 was not a concept back then). Few knew where portable computers, laptops, cell phones and pads, virtual sites, “on demand” access and support, and other advances would take us from that beginning. People can now be students in ways that intertwine with their other identities.

UMassOnline is in its second decade as a mature, yet ever changing, “virtual satellite” where its faculty and students engage with each other and, together, with unbounded resources to promote learning. (Teaching is a special form of learning that derives from organizing, re-imagining, and feedback.) Among the growing number of virtual learning venues, UMassOnline distinguishes itself on the basis of quality, reliability, and value. Our quality is ensured by the grounding of every course and curriculum in academic units on the physical campuses and in the approval processes of those campuses. Technical support for best practices and avenues to resolve student difficulties are paramount for our staff. Finally, the value of an authentic UMass degree or certificate is nationally known and invariably ranked highly when external raters of online programs report their findings.

The track record of UMassOnline is one of fidelity to the scholarly mission of UMass carried out at the cutting edge of effective technologies in order to afford people an opportunity to be students. I hope that you find UMassOnline to be an appropriate link to UMass to achieve your learning goals.

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