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Provost Appoints Jim Spain to Oversee eLearning at MU

Committee forming to review structure of distance, eLearning on campus

December 13th, 2010

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— University of Missouri Provost Brian Foster has announced the appointment of Jim Spain as the interim vice provost for eLearning at MU. In addition to his current duties as MU’s vice provost for undergraduate studies, Spain will oversee MUDirect, the Center for Distance and Independent Study (CDIS), and the Distance Education marketing group. His appointment was effective Dec. 1.

Jim Spain has been appointed interim vice provost for eLearning at MU

Jim Spain has been appointed interim vice provost for eLearning at MU

“Distance education and eLearning have become central to higher education and must be integrated into our campus completely,” Foster said. “Having distance education as a separate enterprise worked well 10 years ago, but the environment has changed. Currently, electronic communication is being used in a vast majority of courses and will be used eventually in all courses.”

Previously, as part of MU’s continual efforts to increase efficiencies and optimize resources, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and Foster announced that the eLearning program would be realigned. Individuals working in CDIS and MUDirect will continue in their current positions.

“This realignment of distance education has been an important discussion for the past two years. We want to build on the extraordinary successes of CDIS —which has nearly a century of tradition—and MU Direct,” Foster said. “Dr. Spain is a natural choice for this position as ET@MO, MU’s main eLearning support group, reports to him currently. He’s been deeply involved in eLearning for the last three years.”

Spain, who holds a doctorate in animal science from Virginia Tech University, has been serving as vice provost for undergraduate studies and director of MU’s Student Success Center since August 2007. Previously, he was the assistant dean of academic programs for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. He has been recognized for his teaching and advising efforts, including receiving the William T. Kemper Fellows award and the Missouri Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Higher Education.

“Mizzou is very fortunate to have an incredible foundation that has been created by our colleagues in Extension. CDIS and MUDirect have established a very successful distance education portfolio,” Spain said. “The campus needs to build from this, blending online, distance instruction programs with our face-to-face teaching.  I look forward to working with administrators, faculty, and the CDIS and MUDirect staff and their stakeholders to achieve a successful transition.  Our goal is to establish a system that continues to extend our teaching and learning programs beyond the traditional classrooms to students here on campus, across the state and around the world.”

Foster appointed Tom Henderson, former director of MU Extension and former assistant to the provost for economic development, to chair a committee that will examine ways to restructure eLearning for the MU campus so the campus can utilize the resources available in the most effective manner possible. Currently, Henderson is in the initial stages of forming the committee and hopes to begin meeting soon. Members of the committee will include representation from ET@MO and faculty and administrators across campus along with individuals involved with distance education.

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