State of the Program

Dear online and adjunct faculty,

It is still hard for me to imagine that Thanksgiving 2015 is here. This year has flown by so unbelievably fast for me. We have covered some rich, fertile ground these last many months. I thought it might be good to stop and look behind us briefly and see what all you have helped us accomplish! By the time the February rolls around, you all will have taught nearly 570 different course sections in 11 different programs. God is indeed blessing Oklahoma Wesleyan University with great students and a great faculty. Here are some other numbers and what they mean:

  • 84% –   Our overall retention rate this last year: AGS student retention rates continue to exceed the national average. Since engagement by and with faculty is the number one driver for student retention, this is a testimony to your faithfulness. Well done!
  • 211 –   The number of AGS graduates we will have had from June through December of this year. When we add in those who will complete in the Spring, that number will, of course, be much higher.
  • 857 –  the record number of enrollments we had this past November 2015.
  • 40 –  number of continual months with record enrollment
  • 57/43 –   the percentage of online (57%) and on-ground (43%) AGS students. This roughly 60/40 split puts us right around the national average for similar universities with adult and residential programs.

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Here are some other items that may be of interest to you:

LMS Review

I am leading a team to review our Learning Management System solutions. Our contract with Blackboard expires in June of 2017 and we will be deciding this spring whether to renew that relationship or to seek another vendor. Between now and March, our LMS review team is taking a close, comprehensive look at our LMS needs, our current LMS environment & costs, and a cost/benefit analysis of switching to a different LMS platform. Currently, in addition to evaluating Blackboard itself, we are in conversation with Instructure (Canvas) and D2L (Brightspace, formerly known as Desire2Learn). We may also consider 1 or 2 other possibilities. Those of you with recent experience with other learning systems beside Blackboard are more than welcome to email with your experiences and thoughts.

CROSS Training

The CROSS program for ordination for Wesleyan pastors continues to explode. Last academic year (July 2014 to June 2015), we had 474 enrollments in CROSS courses. I anticipate by the time we finish the Spring term this coming June, that we will have had over 600 enrollments for these courses. We are projecting 30% annual growth in CROSS going back to 2013. Work is also underway to begin to translating some modules into Spanish with the long-term goal of eventually having a full Spanish-language track for the CROSS program. Through these courses, OKWU and our adjunct faculty are having a direct, immediate impact on churches in almost every state in the USA!

Accreditation visits

This fall, we have had site visits by two of our accrediting bodies. In September, we had a follow-up visit by the Higher Learning Commission, our regional accrediting body with the North Central Association. This two-person team came to follow up on work we have been doing with our general education program and our growing graduate programs. The two-day visit was very productive and positive. We have recently received word back that all of our activities and efforts in these areas were fully approved and we have HLC’s full affirmation as we move toward our 10-year institution-wide accreditation review in 2017. So we are very grateful and appreciate of all the hard work that many folks put into these areas.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Accreditation (CCNE), who accredits our nursing programs, came in October for a regular visit, following up on our new Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. This, too, was a productive visit with a lot of good meetings and positive conversations. The report from this focus team is not due until the spring but we were very encouraged by the quality of work and material we were able to provide as evidence of our graduate nursing education.

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All in all, 2015 has been a terrific, productive, and blessed year. We continue to hear stories of God moving in the lives and through the leadership of our students. We continue to make strides forward in both our numbers and the quality of our programs. In the halls and around the planning tables of various committees, great dreaming and visioning has been happening. New initiatives are being imagined, new programs dreamed about, and we remain focused on ways to engage our culture for Christ while remaining firmly committed to the mission and pillars of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

Mostly, though, I want to personally thank you for the privilege of working with such a great adjunct faculty who is so committed to our students’ lives in all three domains: personal, spiritual, and academic. We so very much appreciate your hard work and dedication and you are each making an invaluable contribution to the lives our students and the kingdom of God!

With a warm, thankful heart this Thanksgiving season,

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Bryan

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Bryan Easley

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Dean of Online Education, Oklahoma Wesleyan University

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