For his dedication and service to the University of Missouri's many distance students, Mizzou Online Academic Adviser Ehren Oncken was honored as one of four finalists for the 2015 Major Mick Deaver Memorial Award, during the Staff Recognition Week awards ceremony on May 18. Established in 1980 by the MU Staff Advisory Council, the annual award goes to a staff member who exemplifies Deaver's concern for fostering good relations with students.

Oncken advises students in the online bachelor of general studies and interdisciplinary studies bachelor degree programs, and fields questions from prospective students for other distance undergraduate degree offerings. Oncken also assists non-degree seeking students (including high school students simultaneously earning college credit) with enrolling in online courses after they are admitted to Mizzou.

"Ehren is a courteous and patient professional who gives 110 percent to each student he works with," says Terrie Nagel, Mizzou Online assistant director. "Distance students may not understand MU's procedures, policies and guidelines, as readily as residential students because they aren't physically established on campus, and those processes may have been different at their former schools."

Oncken works with several departments to ensure distance students successfully navigate all aspects of their academic experience at Mizzou. "As the intake adviser, Ehren serves as students' first and main point of contact, helping them understand the necessary steps to apply for admissions and financial aid, create a graduation plan, enroll in classes and complete course requirements to earn their degrees from our university," says Nagel.

Nagel adds that his service to students was exemplified in a letter from Ron Covington, a recent BGS graduate, who wrote to Oncken just before the fall 2014 commencement: "I wanted to make sure that I let you know what a great job you have done answering all of my questions, helping me with different things and providing me with the information that I needed for class registration, course testing, etc. I was nervous about trying to do this online, but you and your staff have made this a great and rewarding experience for me. As you may or may not have known, I started this process of trying to achieve my college degree over 20 years ago, and because of work, kids and other commitments, I didn't think it was going to happen. But now, because of the MU online program and staff, this goal of mine will soon be achieved."

Major Mick Deaver was the associate director of the University Police Department at the time of his death in 1980. The council's awards selection committee distinguished Oncken and three additional MU staff as finalists from a campus-wide pool of nominees. Brian Booton, program coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research, won this year's award.

With the University of Missouri's spring 2015 commencement weekend just days away, more than 350 online students can proudly count themselves among the newest Mizzou graduates, joining the nearly 275,000 living alumni around the globe. This group of online graduates ranges in age from 22 to 56 and is celebrating their academic achievements throughout 32 states and three other countries, including Canada, France and Korea.

Mizzou, too, is proudly celebrating their accomplishments with a dedicated spring 2015 online commencement ceremony for those students who have completed their education at a distance. Of the 355 graduates who have endeavored to balance career, family and online study, 66 have earned their bachelor's, and 289 are receiving their graduate and doctoral degrees, including this year's student guest speaker, Victoria Clayton-Alexander.

Clayton-Alexander is celebrating her master of arts in journalism, which she earned while working as a Southern California freelance journalist, raising two young sons and drafting a novel. Originally from Iowa, Clayton-Alexander said she struggled with the decision to go back to school, despite her success as a journalist in Southern California. "I tell people that I returned to school so I could have a good night's rest," says Clayton-Alexander. "I was going along as a writer, but there was something in me that wouldn't let me rest until I got my master's degree." She says that deep down, she knew her time would come. "I just had an epiphany: if I didn't start a master's degree program now, I was just not going to do it. Ever. The thought of never doing it made me investigate programs," she said. "Being a journalist from the Midwest, I knew Mizzou. If I was going to get my master's degree, I wanted it to be from a respected institution."

In addition to Clayton-Alexander's inspirational message to her fellow graduates, the online ceremony includes remarks from Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and e-Learning Jim Spain.

"Each class of Mizzou's distance graduates has something so distinctive to be proud of," says Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. "These students have worked tirelessly over many months and years, juggling a host of responsibilities to realize their academic dreams. Every graduate has made education a priority in life, and we could not be more excited for all of them to celebrate their achievements with us. We encourage friends, families and fellow Tigers to please congratulate the 2015 graduates by posting kudos at the online commencement site."

Much like the on-campus commencement exercises this week, the virtual graduation experience includes activities for graduates and their supporters. Well-wishers can leave congratulatory notes for individuals or groups of online graduates in the guest book, where visitors can read inspiring messages written by others, and graduating students also can post pictures of themselves in the photo gallery.

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

Pictured with Dr. Jennifer Fellabaum (middle) of MU's Statewide Cooperative in Educational Leadership doctorate degree program is UPCEA CEO Bob Hansen and Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler.

The University of Missouri's Statewide Cooperative in Educational Leadership doctorate degree program (EdD) was awarded the 2015 Outstanding Program (Credit) Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), at the groups' annual conference in Washington, D.C. The award honors the MU College of Education Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) EdD program for excellence in originality and its contribution to the field of continuing education, allowing students to earn academic credit.

"The UPCEA Outstanding Program Award is not automatically given out each year," says Kim Siegenthaler, director of Mizzou Online. "So we're ecstatic that the group chose to recognize Mizzou's ELPA doctoral program for its collaborative approach to graduate study in an effort to produce highly prepared school leaders for all of Missouri."

The ELPA hybrid online degree program began in 1997 to help practicing educational leaders and school district personnel throughout the state gain knowledge and expertise in leadership theory and practice, organizational analysis, educational policy and content and context of learning.

"The program was designed for leaders who work full time so they may continue their career, while acquiring new skills which can be applied immediately, ultimately moving into top leadership positions," said Dr. Jennifer Fellabaum, associate director of the Statewide Cooperative EdD program. "Graduates from our program lead change in organizations, leadership, practice and policy, all over the state of Missouri, nationally and even internationally."

After 16 years, the ELPA online hybrid is still a highly regarded program, with more than 200 students currently enrolled. See more highlights about MU's ELPA State Cooperative EdD efforts at

Also honored at the annual UPCEA conference for her achievements, Stacy Snow, Mizzou Online director of marketing and recruitment, received the Dorothy Durkin Award for Strategic Innovation in Marketing and Enrollment Management.

"This is an award of the highest distinction and honor in our profession, which in particular, recognizes an individual for marked achievements that further the success of a continuing and distance education institution," said Siegenthaler. "Stacy's marketing and enrollment strategy development and implementation efforts have made just such a difference to Mizzou Online."

UPCEA is the leading national organization for professional, continuing and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA serves more than 365 institutions across the country, including the University of Missouri. Since 1953, UPCEA has recognized its members' outstanding contributions to the association and the field of continuing education, as well as their achievements in innovative programming, marketing and promotion, community development and services, research and publications, and many more areas.

The UPCEA Association Awards program includes recognition of both individual and institutional achievement across the UPCEA membership. Award recipients were honored at the UPCEA 100th Annual Conference, on March 31.

Mizzou's online bachelor's programs, and MU's College of Education and Sinclair School of Nursing master's degree offerings earned recognition from U.S. News & World Report's 2015 Best Online Programs survey. Mizzou ranked in the top 50 for online nursing graduate programs and in the top 100 for online bachelor's and graduate education programs nationwide.

The annual rankings were compiled from 1,200 surveys of regionally accredited institutions whose programs are offered mostly or entirely online. Results are based on criteria that includes: student engagement with faculty and classmates; faculty credentials and training; peer reputation; diverse online learning technologies that allow students greater flexibility; student services that provide a strong support structure; and admissions selectivity (for graduate programs).

"Mizzou's online courses are taught by the same faculty and instructors who teach the university's on-campus programs," says Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. "Our goal is to make each distance student's learning experience as meaningful and successful as that of students who are able to learn in our classrooms — no matter when or where in the world that distance student studies."

Mizzou offers bachelor's completion options in nine areas, including education studies, general studies, health sciences, hospitality management, human environmental sciences, interdisciplinary studies, nursing (RN-to-BSN), radiography and respiratory therapy. Mizzou provides more than 30 online graduate education programs, including certificates and master's, educational specialist and doctoral degree options, as well as the nine nursing graduate program options that include both master's and doctoral degrees.

This week, nearly 350 online students are joining the 274,000-plus living alumni who proudly count themselves graduates of the University of Missouri. Mizzou's summer and fall 2014 online commencement ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of those students who have completed their education at a distance. Of those, 97 have earned their bachelor's, and 250 are receiving their graduate and doctoral degrees.

"The online ceremony honors these graduating students who have made their education a priority despite the challenges, especially as many have had to juggle hours of course work with full-time jobs, family and other commitments," says Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. "These graduates all have exhibited tremendous commitment to achieve their degrees; we're extremely proud of their perseverance and dedication — and we hope that the graduates will forward the commencement link so their proud friends and families can also celebrate this life accomplishment."

This group of online graduates range in age from 20 to 62, hailing from 35 states and four other countries in North America, Europe and Asia. Of the graduates, 229 are from Missouri.

Much like the on-campus commencement exercises taking place in the coming days, the online ceremony features speeches by several campus leaders, including Interim Provost Kenneth D. Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and e-Learning Jim Spain.

The virtual graduation experience also includes activities for graduates and their supporters. Well-wishers can leave congratulatory notes for individuals or groups of online graduates in the guest book, where visitors can read inspiring messages written by others, and graduating students also can post pictures of themselves in the photo gallery.

Friends, families and fellow Tigers: Please congratulate the graduates by posting in the guest book.

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

Expanding nationwide access to quality education-oriented care options for children from birth to age 8 is one goal of the University of Missouri's new online Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education in a mobile society (BS HES). With its new offering, the College of Human Environmental Sciences aims to further the reach of skilled professionals working with young children.

"Families nationwide truly need learning environments that support the social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of their small children," said Jean Ispa, professor and co-chair of the college's Department of Human Development and Family Studies. "Young children of working families often require all-day childcare or before-and-after-school care once they start elementary school, and it's very important that that care be of high quality."

Ispa expects that graduates of the BS HES program will be likely to make significant impacts within their own communities, if they can maintain their day-to-day local ties while earning their degrees at a distance.

"We want to train the next generation of professionals who will help create high-quality learning environments for children within their own communities," Ispa said. "We're offering this program online so that students who live far from the university, even overseas, or whose other obligations make it difficult to attend day classes have the option to study without relocating for college."

The program is now accepting enrollments for the spring 2015 semester; classes begin in mid-January and are 100 percent online. Ispa encourages students not to hesitate calling to discuss the program's potential fit.

"We can work with students who are still earning their general education requirements so that they are well-prepared for the early childhood bachelor's course work once they're accepted into the sequence," she said. "This program has something for anyone who is still working toward their bachelor's and is interested in working with young children."

It does not prepare students for public school teacher certification.

Students who apply to the program at Mizzou will take some courses that are taught through other institutions as part of the Great Plains IDEA consortium, but all credit hours (and the degree) are earned through MU. Space in the online program is limited, but new students can start the program in January, June or August.

For more information, see

Two national distance education organizations are recognizing the University of Missouri with awards for online course development, distance education research and marketing efforts related to Mizzou's online education programs.

"These honors help distinguish Mizzou faculty as leaders in developing online curricula — and our staff as among the most experienced and dedicated in distance education today," said Jim Spain, vice provost for undergraduate studies and e-Learning at the University of Missouri. "Mizzou faculty and staff are working collaboratively to ensure student success."

ADEIL Helen Williams University Course Award

Dr. Nikole Cronk, clinical assistant professor in the MU School of Medicine's family and community medicine department, was honored by the Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning (ADEIL) with the 2014 Helen Williams Award. Cronk's Psychology 3830: Health Psychology is an online, self-paced course and features video, engaging commentary and detailed instructor feedback. Cronk worked with Educational Technologies at Missouri (ET@MO) for instructional design assistance.

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

A representative from Mizzou Online accepted the award on Cronk's behalf at the association's annual conference at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, on Oct. 15.

UPCEA Research and Publication Award

Terrie Nagel, Mizzou Online Assistant Director, won the University Professional and Continuing Education Association's (UPCEA's) 2014 Research and Publication Award, as part of the group's Central Region Celebration of Excellence Program. UPCEA selected Nagel's dissertation, titled "Academic Achievement and Persistence in Online Self-Paced Courses" for its originality and impact on the field of adult and continuing education, recognizing Nagel's research as exhibiting promise to make a significant contribution to the study of education.

"The specific purpose of the study is to examine academic achievement for students enrolled in online self-paced courses who have different prior course delivery experiences," Nagel said. "The goal is to investigate how students relate to their academic achievement in online self-paced courses, given their prior course delivery experiences. These areas were previously un-researched in the literature."

A University of Missouri staff member for 20 years, Nagel is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education. She earned her master's degree in Educational Psychology from Mizzou and two bachelor's degrees from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Nagel will accept the award at the UPCEA Central Region Conference on Oct. 23 in Denver.

UPCEA Marketing Award

Mizzou Online won gold for the radio advertising category in the UPCEA's annual Marketing Awards competition. Each year the organization's Marketing, Enrollment and Student Services Network sponsors the competition to recognize effective marketing and recruitment practices in the field of professional, continuing and online education.

A representative from Mizzou Online will accept the award on Nov. 6 during the 23rd UPCEA Marketing and Enrollment Management Seminar in Atlanta.

ADEIL is an association that provides professional development and networking opportunities for all those engaged in or interested in distance education.

UPCEA is a national association advancing leadership in professional, continuing and online education. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA builds greater awareness of the vital link between adult learners and public policy issues.

For the sixth-consecutive year, the University of Missouri has been awarded the Military Friendly® school title by Victory Media, a media company specializing in information for military personnel transitioning to civilian life. The list honors the top-20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America's military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.

From veterans of the Spanish-American War to current military personnel, countless service men and women have attended and graduated from Mizzou.

"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 the classroom," 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 full-service Veterans Center for student veterans, military personnel and employee veterans. The center has taken the lead in facilitating veterans' transitions to and from active duty and from the military to academia.

At the start of the fall 2014 semester, Mizzou had more than 350 veterans enrolled. In addition, the MU Veterans Center serves dependents of veterans, taking the total number of students served by the Veterans Center to nearly 700.

Availability of online courses and degrees also makes MU a good choice for the military. More than 90 degree and certificate programs are available entirely or partially online.

"It's the breadth of online options we offer that gives active duty, on-base personnel and veterans so much from which to choose," said Kim Siegenthaler, director of Mizzou Online. "Because Mizzou's online courses are taught by the same faculty who teach on the MU campus, graduates are earning a respected credential. Plus, the format of online courses allows students the flexibility they need to meet family and work commitments."

The Military Friendly Schools® media and website, found at, feature the list, interactive tools and search functionality to help military students find the best school to suit their unique needs and preferences. The schools on this year's list have world-class programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility, and other services for those who served.

"Inclusion on the 2015 list of Military Friendly Schools® shows Missouri's commitment to providing a supportive environment for military students," said Sean Collins, Vice President at Victory Media and a nine-year Navy veteran. "The need for education is growing and our mission is to provide the military community with transparent, world-class resources to assist in their search for schools."

For more information about the MU Veterans Center and its services, visit

Independent college search website chose the top online program in each state; Mizzou was selected as the best online institution in Missouri.

The website's editors indicate their selection was based on a combination of academic excellence, faculty strength, reputation, awards and the number of online degree programs offered. The group previously listed Mizzou among the 30 Best Online Colleges for 2014 when additional criteria, such as teaching methods and tuition were factored in.

"Providing access to Mizzou for those who can't relocate to the Columbia campus is integral to our land-grant mission," said Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. "Faculty in Mizzou's schools and colleges are actively working to develop courses and degrees that meet the growing demand for high quality, well-respected online education."

Sarah Smith-Frigerio, graduate adviser for four distance master's programs in journalism, won the Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award for staff support. She also teaches in the program.

"Sarah has the aptitude to inspire, guide and mentor students through independent and creative thinking. She serves as a mentor, collaborator and consultant to other faculty and teaching assistants by helping to enrich the scholarship of teaching and learning," says Melissa Ingram, Mizzou Online senior program coordinator, who nominated Frigerio-Smith for her ability to engage students both in and out of the classroom. "She is a positive example for faculty and staff across campus to help them cultivate an approach to using technology to enhance teaching and improve student learning."

Smith-Frigerio oversees the advising for MU's online master's of arts journalism degree programs in health communication, interactive media, strategic communication and media management.

The university's annual Excellence in Teaching with Technology Awards recognize the extraordinary efforts of faculty, staff, teaching assistants and graduate instructors involved in using educational technologies to meaningfully improve teaching and learning at Mizzou.

All 2014 Excellence in Teaching with Technology Awards recipients include:

  • Graduate/Professional Teaching Award — Marilyn James-Kracke, Department of Medical Pharmacology & Physiology, School of Medicine
  • Undergraduate Teaching Award — Sarah Bush, Division of Biological Sciences, College of Arts & Science
  • Graduate Instructor/Teaching Assistant Award — Jessica Klockow, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts & Science
  • Staff Support Award — Sarah Smith-Frigerio, Graduate Program, School of Journalism

A celebration luncheon for the winners and members of the award selection committee will be scheduled later this fall.