The Digital Campus as an Incubator and the Future of the University

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

This panel, featuring four members of the University of Arizona's Online leadership team, will showcase how innovations emanating from digital and online initiatives are shaping the future of the entire institution while re-envisioning the 21st Century "residential" university. 



Joshua Steele is the Senior Director of University of Arizona Online, partnering with centralized student services to ensure that students who attend 100% online have the necessary resources and guidance to be successful.
Melody Buckner is the Director of Digital Learning and Online Education for the Office of Digital Learning, and the Interim Dean of UA South. In her role as director, she oversees the design, development and maintenance of over 700 courses within almost 80 fully-online programs the UA Online campus. She began at the UA almost a decade ago as an Instructional Designer, charged with helping faculty create online courses that reach out and engage students in an online UA experience. Before coming to the University, she served as an Instructional Designer in Professional Development and as an adjunct faculty for Pima Community College. Her educational background includes, a Bachelor of Science from the College of Architecture at Arizona State University and a Masters in Educational Technology at Northern Arizona University. She is earned her Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona in 2015. Her informal education consists of living in over 40 different places including several countries overseas.
Asst. Director for instructional design in support of the University of Arizona's fully online campus. Oversees the general education academy and UA Online's instructional design team. Currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. Areas of research interest include instructor presence and its impact of a sense of community and student success in online learning.

Additional Authors

Dr. Vincent Del Casino is Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and San Jose State University. Previously, he was Vice President for Academic Initiatives and Student Success. He oversaw programmatic and curricular development for online learning and played a leadership in the expansion of digital learning experiences on campus more broadly. He also oversees the University of Arizona’s 100% Engagement Program. He also oversaw four core areas of student success and retention programming at the university, including C.A.T.S. Academic Center, the Salt Center, Think Tank, and Academic Success and Achievement. Before taking up his post as Vice President, Dr. Del Casino was Vice Provost for Digital Learning and Student Engagement/Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management (2014-2017) and Associate Dean in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (2011-2014) at the University of Arizona. He also is a Professor of Geography and Development with interests in social and cultural geography, health geography, geographic thought and history, sexuality studies, HIV/AIDS, and sexual and health politics in Southeast Asia and the United States. He has collectively published five single-authored, co-authored, and edited books as well as over 30 articles and invited book chapters. He has held grants from the Metrans Transportation Center of the University of Southern California and the University-wide AIDS Research Foundation of the University of California and been part of collaborative research funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration (SAMSHA). He has held a Visiting Research Fellowship at The Australian National University and given numerous conference presentations and invited lectures at a number of national and international venues. For more information on Dr. Del Casino's research and teaching profile, click

Extended Abstract

In Fall 2015, University of Arizona launched its fully online campus, providing students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s degree fully online. From the beginning, the initiatives of the fully online campus have pushed strategies that have contributed to the success of all students, rather than solely those attending fully online. The Online campus has become a creative hub, serving as idea generator and testing ground for high-impact initiatives and strategies. The panel will discuss a few of these, while focusing on greater themes, including

  • “Managing up” to expand impact beyond institutional silos

  • Embedding online initiatives into the institutional DNA

  • Building support across campus

This session will be a facilitated discussion, using sli-do to allow in-person and virtual attendees the opportunity to ask questions of all panel members. Attendees will also be encouraged to share their ideas on institutional change through online learning, and envision the future of the higher education institution in a rapidly shifting environment.