The University of Missouri received two awards from the Great Plains Interactive and Distance Education Alliance (GP IDEA), a national consortium of degree-granting universities that provides inter-institutional access to online human sciences and agriculture courses through a collaborative distance education program model.
Tracy Kitchel, associate professor and director of graduate studies for MU's Agricultural Education and Leadership department, received the alliance's 2013 Faculty Excellence Award. "The Great Plains IDEA Cabinet created this award in 2010 to recognize faculty members who have made a significant contribution to the success of the academic programs in the alliance," says Carol Gould, GP IDEA executive director.
Kitchel oversees the new online agricultural education master's degree — now accepting applications for the fall 2013 semester. He also chairs the national group for agricultural education, called AG*IDEA, which combines online courses offered by MU and 19 other universities in the consortium (as part of GP IDEA) to provide the new fully online master's degree through Mizzou.
"I am very honored by being named a recipient of this award," says Kitchel. "As a national agricultural education group, we have worked hard to build our program. Participation in Great Plains and AG*IDEA has helped leverage resources in our local department so we can teach other courses while relying on the expertise of faculty from across the country. I really enjoy working with the staff at Great Plains IDEA and am thankful to have a great support system at Mizzou Online."
Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies at MU, shares Kitchel's enthusiasm toward the faculty and support system that Mizzou Online has in place in working with the GP IDEA consortium. "We are very fortunate to have a team that is committed to serving the campus as we help make MU more accessible to students across the state and country, as well as around the world," says Spain.
Supporting Kitchel in setting up the online courses to launch the new degree is Nita Smarr, Mizzou Online campus coordinator for GP IDEA programs. Smarr received the alliance's Rock 'n' Rolling Award for "her attention to detail and work ethic that ensures no rock goes unturned," according to Gould. "We are pleased to recognize the outstanding educators and the support staff who are so important to this organization."
Spain adds, "Mizzou Online's support of our faculty and their students has been critical to the sustained success MU has achieved in expanding our online distance programs."
Mizzou now offers 11 online degree and certificate programs through the GP IDEA consortium, including studies in agricultural education, family and community services, financial and housing counseling, geriatric care management, gerontology and youth development, and personal financial management. For more information about Kitchel's Faculty Excellence Award recognition and the AG*IDEA program, see the College of Agricultural, Food and Natural Resources news article.