Does higher education prepare students for the workforce? Should it? If so, how? These questions, resounding clearly across higher ed, government, and employers over the past few years, have existed for as long as I can remember. On a decision tree, they would branch off from the trunk of the question, how is the quality of higher education defined?
When I tell people that I am a professor of history in an online classroom they sometimes frown skeptically and ask, “How does that work?” Some who have never experienced distance learning perceive my work as a substandard replica of a traditional classroom. They ask, “How can you interact with your students?” Or they exclaim, “Your poor students can’t pay attention to lectures through a computer screen!”
My reaction is first to tell them that they must have never had a professor at a brick-and-mortar university drone on from behind a podium in front of a large classroom. My point? The venue does not guarantee the value of the education.
I can’t speak for all for-profit institutions, but at APUS we value our affordability and the opportunity it provides our students to pursue their educational goals. We have been able to balance operational costs and investments in the classroom, in various processes, and in the student learning experience without adding significant tuition and fee increases for our students.
With the beginning of a new year and a new leadership team in place, we have launched the first-ever APUS Leadership Listen and Learn (LLL) initiative. What is it, who is involved, and why do this?
The purpose of the LLL strategic program is for the university community and leadership team to meet in a more intimate and collaborative gathering focused on the APUS vision and direction, exploring what we need to do as a university in both the near-term and coming years to continue to strengthen our focus on academic excellence, student success and organizational effectiveness. To accomplish this goal, I, Provost Vernon Smith, COO Bob Gay, Chief of Staff Gwen Hall and other members of my leadership team will host students, faculty, staff, partners, alumni and other integral university stakeholders on our Charles Town campus and in locations across the country where we have significant populations of students and/or faculty, with additional virtual sessions to be conducted remotely.
In the past, innovation often has been a bit selfish because the inventor wants to lay claim to the idea, the new technology or the process change. Today, innovation in technology and process is paving the road to the future and opening the doors to education.
On December 14, nearly 20 of our distinguished alumni gathered in Crystal City, Va., as we launched the new President’s Alumni Council. I co-hosted the event, along with American Public University System (APUS) trustees and alumni Dr. J. D. Polk and Lt. General Tom Conant (USMC, Ret.), for alumni who are key leaders in government and industry. With 65,000+ alumni worldwide and growing, we aim to advance our greater American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU) community through ongoing engagement with them.