The University of Missouri has won the 2014 Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), at the groups' annual conference in Miami. The award, in its inaugural year, honors Mizzou for its institution-wide commitment to online education.
"Our goal is to recognize institutions that have made the investment in time and human resources to design effective online learning experiences," said Robert Hansen, UPCEA CEO. "This award confers one of the highest distinctions within our profession, honoring, in particular, how an institution develops and meets strategic and innovative goals for online education."
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. The awards committee sought examples of higher education organizations that had set and met innovative goals in collaborative ways — whether on one campus, within a system or through a consortium — and been strategic in the planning, development, implementation and sustainability in line with the institutional mission.
Mizzou began reorganizing the offices responsible for distance education in 2010 and formally created the Mizzou Online office in 2011 as part of the Provost's Office. The realignment required campuswide collaboration among administrative offices, academic departments, technology and administrative support teams.
Online program availability has grown steadily for years at Mizzou, and there are more than 90 degree and certificate options available wholly or partly online. The growth in programs has come with policy and process improvements affecting many facets of the campus' academic infrastructure.
"The work we have done to form the Mizzou Online office is a great tribute to those before us who positioned online distance education for future success at MU," says Jim Spain, MU's vice provost of undergraduate studies and e-Learning. "This award represents the work of so many faculty and staff who have served distance education at MU for decades. Our success really is a testament to the great partners we have all across our campus who have been integral to our progress as Missouri's land-grant institution."
"Both the awards committee members and the leadership of UPCEA thank the University of Missouri for sharing its initiative and inventive implementation of this online education merger, a model to which others in higher education can aspire," Hansen said.