The University of Massachusetts Taps Former Penn State World Campus Executive Director, Dr. Ken Udas, to be UMassOnline Chief Executive Officer

The University of Massachusetts Taps Former Penn State World Campus Executive Director, Dr. Ken Udas, to be UMassOnline Chief Executive Officer

New CEO is a 1986 Graduate of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Master of Science Degree in Management Information Systems and MBA in Management Brings Strong Blend of Credentials to UMassOnline’s Mission

SHREWSBURY, MA – JULY 30, 2009 – Culminating a five month search and selection process, the University of Massachusetts announced today it has named Dr. Ken Udas to be the Chief Executive Officer of its online learning consortium, UMassOnline. Dr. Udas, who will begin his new role at UMassOnline on September 14th, was most recently the Executive Director of Penn State World Campus, created by The Pennsylvania State University in 1998 and which today offers more than 65 distance education programs to more than 10,000 learners in all 50 states and on all seven continents.

University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson, PhD, who was the founding CEO of UMassOnline, said Dr. Udas brings a rare and all-important set of diverse skills and experiences to his leadership role at UMassOnline. “The role of CEO of UMassOnline requires an individual whose knowledge and skills are strong in education, solid in technology, and visionary in management, development, and planning. In Dr. Udas we have clearly met this requirement. Dr. Udas has experienced, and understands, the all-important faculty and program development component which is key to UMassOnline’s future; the all-important technology component that has always distinguished our offering; and, he has been a vocal champion of online learning and teaching throughout his career.”

In making the announcement, Marcellette G. Williams, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and International Relations at the University of Massachusetts, who led the search effort and to whom Dr. Udas will report, said “Dr. Udas has established a proven national and international record of leadership and achievement in continuing education as well as traditional degree-granting programs. He has the vision to take UMassOnline to the next level and shares with us a set of educational values as well as learning and teaching quality standards that have defined UMassOnline and driven its growth since its founding in 2001.”

Dr. Udas, whose background includes a diverse set of executive management and teaching roles in Slovakia, Austria, Kazakhstan, Central Asia and New Zealand as well as in the United States, replaces interim CEO Dr. Mark Schlesinger who took on the temporary assignment when former CEO David Gray was named Senior Vice President for Administration, Finance, & Technology for the University of Massachusetts in January.

In accepting the position, Dr. Udas said, “I maintain a strong commitment to distance education as a method of expanding educational opportunities and am dedicated to connecting the university and its online students with a community as well as extending opportunities for access through the appropriate use of technology. The educational commitments of the University of Massachusetts and UMassOnline, and its mission to support social and personal well being through public service, research and excellent educational programming, strikes at the very core of the engaged university.  I am excited by the opportunity to provide leadership in an institute supporting a truly unique university mission, created on the principles of enhanced access to educational opportunities, meaningful community engagement, and global impact.”

Dr. Udas earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration and Master of Science in Management Information Systems from Texas A&M University in 1995 and 1992, respectively. He also holds a Master of Business Administration in Management from Salem State College and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Since 2006, Dr. Udas had been the Executive Director of the Penn State World Campus of The Pennsylvania State University. The World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach supporting more than 23,000 course enrollments and generating more than $45 million in revenue. In this role, Dr. Udas led the development of the organization’s vision with responsibility for prioritizing and resourcing initiatives, staffing plans, and capital and operational investments. His managerial oversight of operations included educational technology, student services, academic advising, student retention, marketing, program development, faculty development, learning design and course development.

Previously, Dr. Udas was Director, SUNY Learning Network, The State of New York Systems Administration in Albany, NY. The SUNY Learning Network is a partnership of 40 SUNY institutions ranging from community colleges to research universities serving more than 100,000 student enrollments. In this role Dr. Udas had managerial oversight of operations including faculty development, technology services, communications and outreach, and Web site development.

Earlier, for two years, Dr. Udas was E-Learning Director at The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand which is a major online and distance learning institution serving more than 35,000 adult learners. And for approximately a year prior to that Dr. Udas was Director, Distance Learning Network (DLN), EdNet, CARANA Corporation USAID Project based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he established and managed all DLN operations, the Information and Communications Technology department, and the Technical Training department with an internationally distributed team of administrative, technical, and educational professionals. CARANA Corporation is a leading provider of global economic development solutions to government, private business and international donor agencies.

Dr. Udas’ extraordinary career has also included Web-Based Course developer and instructor for Spotfire, Inc., an analytical software development company; Course Director and Teaching Faculty, School of Information Technology, Harcourt Higher Education which was a first-of-its-kind online university; Research Associate, Commitment to Education in the Department of Educational Administration at Texas A&M University; and, Operations Manager, Ellison Campus Center, Salem State College.

Most recently serving as Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Adult Education at The Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Udas’ other academic and teaching experiences include having served as: Adjunct Associate Professor, Graduate Faculty, Management, University of Maryland University College; Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Science, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Babson College; Visiting Assistant Professor, Faculty of Management, Univerzita Komenského, Bratislava, Slovak Republic; Lecturer, University of Maryland System, European Division, Heidelberg, Germany; Lecturer, International University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria; Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh; and, Lecturer at City University in Bratislava, Slovak Republic.

Dr. Udas is a member of the Association of Public Landgrant Universities (APLU) -Sloan National Commission on Online Learning which, since 2007, has engaged college Presidents and Chancellors in discussions about the utility of online education as a means to achieve broader institutional priorities such as diversity, retention, internationalization and accountability. He is also Co-chairperson, IMS Student Induction to eLearning which is researching, identifying, and documenting best practices and standards in flexible learning that positively impact adult learner retention and completion. The IMS Global Learning Consortium creates standards for the development and adoption of technologies that enable high-quality, accessible, and affordable learning experiences.

A member of the Editorial Board for the American Journal of Distance Education, Dr. Udas is also a member of Sloan-C and the American Distance Education Consortium where he also serves as Principal Contact Officer. He is co-leader for the Educause Constituency Group on Openness, an association focused on the emergence and adoption of open technologies, practices, policies, and initiatives, and how they affect the delivery and support of education. Dr. Udas has written and presented extensively on the topic of distance education and technology.

About UMassOnline

UMassOnline, the online learning consortium of the University of Massachusetts, provides the highest quality education offered by the UMass system in a flexible, online format enabling students, professionals, and lifelong learners to take courses anywhere, anytime. With close to 90 undergraduate and graduate degree, certificate and professional development programs and more than 1,500 courses, UMassOnline offers one of the largest accredited online programs available. Programs span the disciplines for which the University is best known: liberal arts, education, management, nursing, public health, information technology, and other disciplines. For more about UMassOnline, go to or visit our blog at


Media Inquiries:

Jennifer Brady
UMassOnline Director of Marketing

Date: 7/30/09