Two new online programs from the University of Missouri will add to the workforce of qualified professionals who can serve the elderly and families in need, thereby creating jobs and improving services for a growing population.

Classes for the new master of arts degree in human development and family studies with a focus in family and community services and the graduate certificate in geriatric care management begin in January.

The 36-credit-hour family and community services program was designed for those with varied community services backgrounds - including military support agencies - who want to help families and individuals seeking life resources or want to manage public/private programs designed to offer services. Graduates will be capable of directing agencies.

"We want to develop professionals who can better interpret the growing network of health and social service agencies in order to provide individualized action plans for each family and community they are trying to serve," said Larry Ganong, co-chair of Mizzou's Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

"We are providing a practical master's degree that professionals can use to understand the needs of families, deliver services to them, and manage agencies who provide services to families and communities," says Ganong.

Helping America's fastest-growing population
The 12-credit-hour online graduate certificate in geriatric care management was designed with working adults in mind and features courses that are 10 weeks long rather than the traditional 16-week semester. The certificate can be completed within a calendar year. The program prepares students to become nationally certified Geriatric Care Managers; some students will use it to build credentials in other fields, such as social services, case management or health-care social work.

"For many families, taking care of their older relatives is no longer an option, but a necessity," said Cynthia Reeser, director of the program. "Whether the elder person continues to live in the community or reside in more protected environment, it's their younger siblings or grown children who usually have to make the hard decisions about the elder's care and how to provide the right support.

"The Geriatric Care Manager can be called in to help. These managers will identify the overall concerns of care receivers and caregivers; gain a fuller understanding of which services are most appropriate; and then, provide care assessment and planning," Reeser said.

Mizzou's program is distinct from other academic offerings in this area because it "offers a holistic approach to managing elder services," Reeser said. "We cover the needs of the whole person, including their finances, interpersonal relationships and overall well-being and quality of life - not just their health concerns," she said. The courses in both the master's program and the graduate certificate are 100 percent online.

The University of Missouri recently received three honors from higher education organizations. The awards recognize two MU instructors and a degree program for their accomplishments in online learning.

"These honors recognize that Mizzou faculty are leaders in developing online curricula," said Jim Spain, interim vice provost for e-Learning at the University of Missouri. "The quality of instruction and the focus on student learning outcomes are the result of the faculty like these award recipients who are constantly working to effectively use instructional technology."

Excellence in Teaching: Shawna Strickland, Respiratory Therapy
The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Central Region recognized Shawna Strickland, clinical associate professor of Respiratory Therapy in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions, with the award for Excellence in Teaching at its September conference.

The award recognizes instructors for outstanding teaching and mentoring while delivering creative and innovative curriculum. Strickland teaches multiple clinical courses each semester in the respiratory therapy focused bachelor of health sciences online completion program and also serves as the program's faculty coordinator.

"We are so proud of Dr. Strickland and the leadership and innovation she has brought to the School of Health Professions and its students," said Richard Oliver, dean of the School of Health Professions. "This honor from UPCEA is formal recognition of the outstanding teaching and mentoring Dr. Strickland brings to the program and the school. This critical program is changing the standard of education in respiratory therapy and Dr. Strickland deserves much of the credit for this impressive accomplishment."

Mature Program Award: School of Information Science & Learning Technologies,
Educational Technology Master's Degree

MU's School of Information Science & Learning Technologies also was recognized by the UPCEA Central Region for its Educational Technology Master's Degree. The Outstanding Mature Program Award lauds for-credit online programming that has made sustained contributions to higher education in the form of impactful change in its associated industry.

The Educational Technology master's program has been helping teachers and school personnel incorporate technology into their classrooms since 1999. The program was one of the first fully online degree programs offered by Mizzou. The program's scope has evolved over the years and now teachers can pursue their master's or education specialist degrees in one of three areas: technology in schools, learning systems design and development, or online educator.

"The MU College of Education is pleased to be recognized for its continued focus on improving the use of technology in classrooms," says Daniel L. Clay, dean of the MU College of Education."Dr. John Wedman and his team have done an outstanding job building a strong program that encourages collaboration between educators. These teachers embrace becoming students again as they exchange best practices with their colleagues across the United States and in other parts of the world."

Helen Williams Award for Outstanding Course: Matthew Gordon, English
Matthew Gordon, associate professor of English in the Department of English, was honored by the Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning (ADEIL) with the Helen Williams Award for Outstanding Courses. Gordon's English 4610: History of the English Language is an online, self-paced course and features video, animated slide decks, engaging commentary and detailed instructor feedback.

This ADEIL recognition is named for Helen Williams, a distance education pioneer from the University of Iowa. The award recognizes the accomplishment of the course instructor, author and course developer in creating exemplary courses that focus on student learning outcomes and overall design and content.

"Professor Gordon is well ahead of his time in developing not only an online course but one at the advanced level. This is a boon to the curriculum offered by the College of Arts and Science," said Michael O'Brien, dean of the college.

For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Missouri has been awarded the Military Friendly School® title by Victory Media, a media company for military personnel transitioning into civilian life. The 2013 Military Friendly Schools® list names the country's top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools, recognized for doing the most to ensure the success of America's military service members, veterans and spouses as both on- and off-campus students. See Mizzou's profile on the militaryfriendlyschools.com website.

"MU was one of the first schools in the nation to create a full-service, one-stop shop to help our veterans transition from the military to academics," said Carol Fleisher, director of the MU Veterans Center. "We are very pleased to receive this award and to be recognized for our work in assisting our veterans."

In 2008, MU became one of four universities in the nation to have a dedicated Veterans Center for veterans, military personnel and veteran employees. The center has taken the lead in facilitating veterans' transition to and from active duty and from the military to academia.

"MU cares about our veterans and is honored by their presence on our campus," Fleisher added. "They bring tradition, focus, experience and a positive attitude that compliments MU's campus environment. We are intent in making their academic careers successful."

At the onset of the fall 2012 semester, Mizzou had 356 veterans enrolled—a 29 percent increase from the start of 2011. Dependents of veterans also served by the MU Veterans Center also brought the total number of military-affiliated students to nearly 650.

In addition to its on-campus services, MU's more than 80 degree and certificate programs available either entirely or partially online make the university an attractive option for many military personnel to study at a distance. The university plans to increase its online offerings by as many as 15 programs in 2013.

"Mizzou is adding to the already long list of degree and certificate programs resulting in more options for active duty and on-base personnel and veterans," said Gera Burton, Mizzou Online co-director. "The courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on campus, but the flexible format of online courses allows students to stay in their home communities and meet family and work commitments."

Air Force Reserves veteran Don DeMarco is one of many veterans pursuing an online bachelor's degree from Mizzou.

"The entire MU staff has really helped me through two deployments, getting my professors and advisers to work with me to ensure I get everything I can while deployed," DeMarco said. "I have been treated like a person instead of a number with MU, and I appreciate that more than anything. My advisers and professors are genuinely thoughtful and patient with me being in the military, and truly understand that we have hardships."

For more information about the MU Veterans Center and its services, visit http://veterans.missouri.edu/.

Last year, more than 9,100 students enrolled in courses supported by Mizzou Online, which is the administrative gateway for MU schools and colleges to offer their distance degrees, certificates and courses. Of those distance students, 74 percent were within Missouri borders, and more than 200 enrolled from countries around the world. The average age of undergraduate students in a distance degree program was 32 and degree-seeking graduate students averaged 36 years old. Read more statistics and learn how distance education is growing at Mizzou in our annual enrollment report.

The University of Missouri is investing $2.5 million in new distance degree programs. A request for proposals to all MU's schools and colleges seeks to add to the degree and certificate program options already online at the undergraduate through doctoral levels. Read how the initiative will provide more opportunities for distance students in this Mizzou Weekly story.

Learn more about the RFP process.

Best Buy rating by GetEducated.com

GetEducated.com has released a new "best buy ranking" for 2012, in which the independent group listed the College of Education's "Master of Education in Career & Technical Education" as #30 overall in best buys for online masters of education options. GetEducated.com biannually surveys accredited online schools and colleges to find the most "budget-friendly" degrees and previously has ranked other groups of online education degrees, in which the MU College of Education has earned four additional Best Buy listings, leading to an overall grade of "A-" in affordability for the college.

Each of the five College of Education's GetEducated.com "Best Buy" degree program listings is available via the links below.

Lindsay Clubine Buchholz spent two years attending classes on campus at MU before modeling opportunities and a television career took her to Los Angeles. With a College of Arts and Science bachelor's completion program through Mizzou Online, she was able to continue studies on her own time and finish her degree. Read the full story from MIZZOU Magazine.

MU's online commencement ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of more than 200 students who have completed their undergraduate, graduate and education specialist degrees online. The "ceremony" consists of video remarks from campus officials and a guest speaker, much like the on-campus commencement exercises taking place this week.

The site features a list of these hard-working distance students, many of whom have families and careers that were managed along with hours of study to complete their degrees. Family, friends and well-wishers can leave congratulatory notes for the graduates and the students can even post photos of themselves.

Mizzou alumnus, Tyrone Christian, BA '77, headlines the ceremony with his well-wishes for new graduates who have embraced online learning and who face a thriving future filled with technological advances. Christian recently finished a nine-year journey as the chief marketing strategist for the MLK Memorial Foundation, the organization behind the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Christian is now the managing partner of TRC Consulting Group and has more than 35 years of in-house marketing and sales experience for such industry giants as GTE, Times Mirror Co., Westinghouse, Financial News Network and Cablevision Industries.

"Your degree has the same value as those thousands of grads who have graduated in the past and those who will graduate in generations to come," Christian says in speaking to online graduates about their accomplishment. "There is no small print on your degree that says 'online graduate.' It says that you have accomplished and completed the necessary course work to be called a graduate from the University of Missouri." Christian earned a bachelor of arts in communication (radio/TV/film) and has won many regional, national and international marketing, advertising and sales awards. In 2004 he was named as a College of Arts and Science Distinguished Alumnus.

In addition to the remarks from Christian, the virtual "Pomp and Circumstance" experience features speeches by and several campus leaders including Chancellor Brady Deaton, Vice Provost Jim Spain, Graduate School Dean George Justice and Mizzou Alumni Association Executive Director Todd McCubbin.

"We hope that students forward the ceremony link to their friends and family so that many can celebrate the accomplishments of these hard-working individuals," says Stacy Snow, Mizzou Online spokesperson. "We created the ceremony to honor these students who, against many odds, have made their education a priority amidst their family and career obligations. These 200 students join the 5,600 others who can now proudly count themselves among the alumni of the University of Missouri."

For more information about the on-campus graduation ceremonies please visit the Registrar's commencement page.

In June, the University of Missouri will launch a first-of-its-kind online master's degree in positive coaching for school athletic coaches, community role models and life coaches. The online master's of education in positive coaching is an innovative program that fuses best practice concepts from coaching psychology, sports psychology and positive psychology.

Led by Dr. Rick McGuire, who spent nearly three decades as head coach of the Mizzou track and field team, the 30-hour program is built upon the understandings, strategies and techniques proven to be most effective for creating optimal performance and achieving personal and competitive excellence. The program also focuses on honoring and upholding the highest principles and values of education and sport.

"For many children and young adults, one of the most important relationships they will have in school is with a coach," said Dan Clay, dean of the MU College of Education. "This program enables coaches and others to strategically examine best practices in coaching to provide a positive coaching culture. This online degree program could have a far-reaching impact on our youth and the way coaches are trained in this country."

The program will adopt new approaches to real-world challenges through focused attention on critical issues for coaches and sport leaders. Issues covered include the scientific foundations for training for high performance; the ethical, legal, administrative, gender and multicultural issues related to sport and coaching; and utilizing the sport and the coach to influence a more positive and productive total school and institutional environment.

"Positive coaching is about striving for excellence, achieving optimal performance, and teaching and modeling the process of success," McGuire said. "It is also about leading a group of individuals to becoming a highly-effective team; communicating with our followers just as we would wish to be communicated with by our own leaders; respecting and protecting the self-worth of everyone, being demanding without being demeaning; and shaping each individual's will without breaking their spirit."

McGuire, who is nationally recognized in the field of coach education, is the University of Missouri's director of sport psychology for Intercollegiate Athletics and a graduate professor of sport psychology. In addition to serving as Missouri's head track and field coach for 27 years, he was a member of the United States Olympic staff in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.

In addition to McGuire, the online master's degree program will be supported by several distinguished faculty from MU's College of Education and recognized leaders from the Department of Athletics at Mizzou. The degree is offered completely online, with no campus visits required. It is designed for coaches, educators and other professionals who work with children and adolescents through schools, local community athletic programs or in health roles.

The program joins more than 30 online graduate degrees and certificates from the MU College of Education. The College offers these programs through Mizzou Online, which serves as the administrative gateway for schools and colleges to offer their degrees and courses available to students at a distance.

"The benefit of earning your graduate degree online from Mizzou means you get to experience MU faculty delivering MU-quality courses to your home, office or favorite coffee spot," said Kim Siegenthaler, co-director of Mizzou Online. "You can pursue your degree and your career at the same time."