Beyond the Headlines: A Decision-Making Rubric for the Next Phase of Online Program Growth

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As the number of online degrees have proliferated in recent years, it is even more important for institutions to take a more thoughtful approach to program selection. Often, a university must consider key issues like course offerings and schedules, degree specialization, and admissions requirements in order to offer a competitive online degree.

In this webinar, academic leaders from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Ohio University will discuss the key market forces that are present today, and how universities can best position their prospective degrees in the market. Panelists will also provide practical insights and recommendations on how to handle the change management for a university to offer competitive degree programs.

The participants in this webinar will learn about

  • How to effectively plan for the online marketplace, validate program expansion, and reduce risk
  • How to influence change across the institution to prepare to take degrees online
  • Key considerations when evaluating online program management services

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Speaker Bio


Dr. Karen Kennedy, University of Alabama at Birmingham is currently the Senior Associate Dean of the Collat School of Business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Dr. Kennedy also is a Professor of Marketing. Dr. Kennedy had over 10 years of marketing management experience prior to earning her PhD. from the University of South Florida. Organizational change is an underlying theme in much of Dr. Kennedy’s work with educational organizations and major corporations as well as in her research. She has worked closely with organizational transformations that involve the adoption of student and customer-focused strategies. In her current role at UAB, she has led the development of online programs, strong growth in student enrollments, and managed the academic affairs of the Collat School of Business. This has required the melding of a wide variety of interests of faculty, students, university administration, and partner organizations to create a successful, sustainable online program that maintains highest levels of accreditation.

Prior to joining the faculty at UAB, Karen taught at the University of New Orleans, the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa. She has taught Marketing Strategy, Personal Selling, Sales Management, Services Marketing and Principles of Marketing at the undergraduate, MBA and Executive MBA levels.

Dr. Deb Gearhart, Ohio University is the Vice Provost for E-Learning and Strategic Partnerships at Ohio University. Dr. Gearhart has worked in the field of distance education for 29 years Previously Dr. Gearhart served as director of eTROY at Troy University for five years and served as the founding Director of E-Education Services at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota for 11 years. Before joining Dakota State she spent 10 years with the Department of Distance Education at Penn State, now Penn State World Campus. Deb was an associate professor for educational technology at Dakota State University teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has co-authored a textbook entitled Designing and Developing Web-Based Instruction and edited another publication titled Cases on Distance Delivery and Learning Outcomes: Emerging Trends and Programs, which was released in December 2009. Deb is a master reviewer for Quality Matters and has done consulting, training, and program review for distance education programs. Dr. Gearhart has earned a BA in Sociology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She earned a M.Ed. in Adult Education with a distance education emphasis and an M.P.A. in Public Administration, both from Penn State. Deb completed her Ph.D. program in Education, with a certificate in distance educatio n, from Capella University.

Michelle Tufford, Director of Research & Consulting, Pearson Embanetjoined Pearson Embanet in 2010. She is a researcher with 25 years of experience in designing, collecting, analyzing, and understanding data from many types of consumer markets. Michelle started her career with a small public-opinion research firm where she led the collection and analysis of political polling and business marketing data. She then moved to Nationwide Insurance where she held positions with increasingly more responsibility and led a number of important strategic assignments, including customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement, brand health and advertising effectiveness measurement, new product development research, and an enterprise-wide customer experience design and implementation project. In addition to working with all of the Nationwide companies, Michelle has conducted research and participated in strategic planning initiatives for universities, school boards, Second Harvest, the YWCA, Maitland FL Art & History Association, and consumer packaged goods, retail, and financial services firms.

Michelle is ABD in the Ph.D. Economic Geography program at The Ohio State University. She completed her M.A. in Social and Population Geography and her B.A. in Demography also at The Ohio State University.