Archive for May, 2008

A humorous historical note…

May 13, 2008


In 1902, the chair of the University of Chicago’s history department, John F. Jameson, was alarmed when one of his most promising young faculty members received an offer from Cornell University. 


Jameson wrote to President William Rainey Harper with suggestions for putting together the strongest possible counter-offer in hopes of retaining the young man in question. 


He proposed a substantial raise, a loftier title, a lighter class load, and “freedom from correspondence work . . . “


In spite of receiving such a generous offer, Charles Catterall accepted the Cornell position.



— Von Pittman



Follow the Road to Independent Study

May 13, 2008

         Get Your Kicks on Route 66!*

Follow the Road to Independent Study- Route 66 St. Louis


Whether you travel from Chicago or LA, you won’t want to miss the 2008 AACIS Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 6-8, 2008. 


The conference meeting will be hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the Westport Plaza, featuring more than 25 restaurants, bars, shops and clubs.  


On November 6, a pre-conference tour will highlight some of St. Louis’ unique features such as the Gateway Arch, Forrest Park–home of the 1904 Worlds Fair, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Millionaire’s Row and much more. 


Join us on the Mother Road to kick off the conference with a reception inspired by Route 66-St. Louis.  The conference will continue with session topics which include administration, learner needs and services, curriculum, technology, faculty issues and research.  Share your expertise and knowledge by submitting a Call for Proposals.  The deadline is June 16.


On Friday evening, we will travel to Union Station (which opened in 1894 and once served more than 100,000 rail passengers a day) for an evening of shopping, tours and dinner.  Participants may chose to spend their free time browsing through over 80 shops or experiencing a guided tour of the station.  Dinner will be served at the Hard Rock Café as participants enjoy the musical genre of rock n’ roll.


The post-conference tour will explore the architecture of St. Louis.  Professor Jon Davey will guide the tour. He is a recognized faculty member at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and coordinates the annual youth architecture camps and many international architectural travel programs. Each summer Professor Davey takes more than 100 youth on tours through these architectural wonders. The conference participants will first travel to Bellefontaine Gardens and Cemetery. Bellefontaine Cemetery is home to a number of historic and extravagant graves and mausoleums. Learn how Adolphus Busch, William Clark, William S. Burroughs, politicians, inventors and many more individuals wished to have their lives interpreted after their deaths. 


The tour will continue at the St. Louis Cathedral.  The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is a masterpiece of art and history.  It rivals the grandest Cathedrals in the world. In 1912, installation of mosaics in the interior began. Completed in 1988, it contains 41.5 million glass tesserae pieces applying over 7,000 colors. Covering 83,000 square feet (8,000 m²), it is the largest mosaic collection in the world, and was created by 20 different artists including Hildreth Meiere. The tours will return to the hotel at approximately 6:00 PM.


Details and price are being finalized for the conference.  Watch for more information to come at



*Route 66 written by Bobby Troup and recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946.

Dwight Laws, BYU Director, in our memories

May 12, 2008

On March 11, James Rawson, Secondary School Programs Administrator of the Department of Independent Study at BYU, informed AACIS colleagues of the passing of Dwight Laws, the Director of the department at BYU.“It is with regret that we inform you that our Director, Dr. Richard Dwight Laws, passed away after a ten-year battle with cancer, last night at 6:30 p.m. 

Dwight was foremost in developing a highly successful online program and over the past 15 years moved it to the forefront in Distance Education.  He saw growth from 20-plus employees to more than 200 in the department. 

Most of all he will be known for his leadership, friendship and devotion to his family and Church.  He was a man of great faith and vision, who never complained about his personal health issues.  He will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues. 

Dwight leaves behind his wife Linda and 9 children; all who were present when Dwight was given AACIS highest award for service at our annual meeting in Bellingham.”

AACIS donated $100 in Dwight’s memory to the LDS Church Perpetual Education Fund.

(Thanks to Meredith Gilbert for photo of the Laws family.)


Susan Edgren earns an ‘outstanding’ award

May 10, 2008
Susan C. Edgren is the 2008 recipient of one of SIUC’s Excellence through Commitment Outstanding Administrative/Professional Awards. 

Edgren “is a strong advocate for SIUC,” wrote Sharon E. Walters, acting assistant director of the Office of Distance Education, in nominating Edgren for the teaching support excellence award. She credited Edgren for “leading the distance learning initiative at SIUC,” saying her work led to the University offering online semester-based courses with about 135 Information Systems and Applied Arts and 109 Workforce Education and Development course enrollments this spring and an average of 375-400 enrolled in online semester-based courses each semester.

“Without her leadership and determination, distance learning and off-campus programs at SIUC would not be what they are today,” concurred Mark R. Dixon, professor at the SIUC Rehabilitation Institute and one of the first recipients of a distance education grant for the Behavior Analysis and Therapy Program.

SIUC’s online students offer ample praise and admiration for Edgren, her assistance, and even her personal dedication and commitment to helping in any way possible.

Brandyn Cline recalled that as a single mother working on her degree at SIUC, she couldn’t afford the required textbook for an online course. When she inquired about completing the course without the book, Edgren offered to loan her the book, enabling her to successfully complete the course.

“Without Dr. Edgren’s assistance, I would have had to drop the course or try completing it without the textbook,” Cline wrote. “This probably would have meant my either failing the course or dropping below full-time and not being eligible for the Pell grant.”

Wynton Hodges praised the assistance of Edgren and her staff in helping him complete courses he had registered for before called to active duty in Iraq.

“Dr. Edgren and her staff were able to assist me in the process of completing the courses,” Hodges wrote. “Dr. Edgren was also willing to waive any fees that were not covered by my financial aid. Because of her assistance, I was able to complete my bachelor’s degree and have now started on my master’s degree from SIUC. Dr. Edgren definitely goes beyond the requirements in supporting not only SIUC students, but understands the needs of military students.”

John S. Haller Jr., Vice-president for Academic Affairs, also lauded Edgren for her work in preparing a faculty-mentoring program, and for her talents, hard work and devotion to SIUC.  “Dr. Edgren demonstrated a level of competence for which I was truly appreciative,” Haller wrote. “I found her to be a self-starter and a quick study in learning new concepts.”

Edgren’s involvement and commitment to SIUC are long-standing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics education and her master’s in consumer economics at SIUC, along with her doctorate in educational administration and higher education.

Her employment experience includes serving as a graduate assistant at the University’s Department of Family Economics and Management, as an intern in the Office of the Vice-president of Financial Affairs and with University Women’s Professional Advancement, as assistant to the chairperson in the Department of Finance and as academic advisor.

Within the Division of Continuing Education, Edgren has worked at the distance learning facility as instructional developer, program manager, assistant director and as associate director. Currently, as acting director, she’s the fiscal officer for more than $4 million and supervises about 60 employees. She recently led the search for a new assistant director for the Touch of Nature Environmental Center, and Walters noted that Edgren included all staff members in the process.

From helping initiate a religious diversity course to helping create a Web-based version of the course, Edgren’s efforts have bolstered enrollment and improved curriculum, according to Dale R. Bengtson, retired SIUC history professor.

Edgren, of Buncombe, has served on a variety of university, state and national committees dealing with planning and budget, collective bargaining, core curriculum, distance learning, education, intellectual property, non-traditional student initiatives, higher education and much more. Her newest SIUC initiative involves working with the Writing Center to develop a program so distance education and off-campus students can receive important help with writing and research.

Anti-Racism Training at St. Cloud State

May 10, 2008


For the past several years, St Cloud State University’s Center for Continuing Studies has offered non-credit training and workshops to the St Cloud and surrounding community in anti-racism education. 


The Community Anti-Racism Education (CARE) training has been a staple of diversity training at SCSU for the past 4 or 5 years.  The mission of the CARE group is to build a lasting anti-racist university and community.


The Center’s Dean, John Burgeson holds a strong belief in the value of equality and anti-racism.  As a result of leadership initiatives at the university, John has invited several members of the CARE team to staff meetings to provide an open forum for staff to discuss the ideas of anti-racism and determine how we can all embrace these ideals within our unit.


With John’s support in terms of time and funding, the Center’s 20+ staff will have the opportunity to attend a 20-hour anti-racism training this summer.  The Center for Continuing Studies is making a concerted effort to “change the face of continuing education” at SCSU in terms of how we market our programs, serve our students and hire our staff.. We are excited to share the results of our experiences with the CE community across the country. 


For more information on the Minnesota Collaborative Anti-Racism Initiative (MCARI), see


Patricia Aceves


MU High’s Driver Education Course

May 10, 2008

 The University of Missouri High School (MU High) is pleased to announce the opening of its interactive online driver education course.


Driver Education, one-half unit, was produced in cooperation with the University’s Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI). LETI’s certified defensive driving personnel reviewed and contributed content to this new MU High School course offering. Both MU High School and the Law Enforcement Training Institute are units of University of Missouri Extension.


Driver Education utilizes an interactive CD-ROM, as well as online student activities. While the course cannot provide behind the wheel experience, it is designed to prepare students for conditions and situations they may encounter while driving. Lessons covered in the course include highway safety, laws, signs and signals, vehicle control, driving maneuvers, emergencies, driving conditions, and travel planning. An all new unit on the dangers of distracted driving—an increasing concern with the widespread use of cell phones and text messaging by today’s teens—has also been added.


Students may earn one-half unit of high school credit, or the equivalent of one semester, upon successful completion of coursework. Although the first lesson is targeted for Missouri drivers, students in schools throughout both the state and country may use MU High’s Driver Education as transfer credit at their local high school.


State representative Judy Baker of Columbia, the location of the University of Missouri, has long been an advocate for teen safety and defensive driving in the state.  Following discussions with MU High School personnel, Rep. Baker filed HB2046 this legislative session which would require every school district in Missouri to offer driver education—a requirement that could be met by using MU High School’s online course.


In fact, Rep. Baker’s legislation includes a clause for the establishment of a state appropriated “driver education fund.” Should HB2046 pass, “money in the fund shall be used by the department of elementary and secondary education or the University of Missouri Online High School to provide the driver’s education course. . .to students who qualify for reduced price lunch at no cost to the students or his or her parents or legal guardians.”


(retrieved 4/9/08 from


–Kristi Smalley

Kristyn Rose’s first article published

May 10, 2008
Kristyn Rose, Coordinator of Distance Education at Mesa State College, reports that she is “a little excited” about the publication of her first article in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Winter 2007 – Volume 10, Issue 4





The article is  titled “Perceptions of Online Course Communications and Collaboration,” and the link is


Congratulations to Kristyn on this professional milestone!

Von Pittman’s story wins an award

May 10, 2008

Von Pittman’s short story, “Covering the Spread,” published in the Spring, 2007, issue (V. 15, #1) of The Study Guide, won First Place in the Short Story division of the Missouri Writers’ Guild 2008 competition, in a ceremony on April 12. 

Congratulations, Von, from all of us AACIS colleagues who were greatly entertained as we read your story in the last issue of The Study Guide!

Route 66

May 10, 2008

Click on me, for a better view of the Road to St. Louis!

Mizzou’s Cinematic Major and Minor

May 10, 2008

In 1942, Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland starred in The Major and the Minor, little knowing how film and business would, in the new millennium, affect … independent study. 


We all know that independent study provides opportunities for students when classes are closed to enrollment on campus, but how often do we get to help with majors or minors?


At the University of Missouri, Film Studies is a program and a minor, but not yet department or a major. Missouri’s CDIS has commissioned and opened two Film Studies courses, with one recent minor revision, in the last 3 years.



Another is looming on the horizon, and several related literature or religion courses feature films rentable from national online services. The chair has been very supportive, having written the first course and part of an upcoming civilization course. Further, he has solicited enrollment and financial information from CDIS to send on to the dean’s office in hopes of making the program into a degree-awarding department. Time will tell the outcome, but fortunately, there are about 130 students in the first Film Studies course, Introduction to Film Analysis, making it one of our highest-enrolling courses and offsetting some of the losses incurred from certain other courses closing at inopportune times. The course grader is rather busy, needless to say.


On the minor front, CDIS has been helping with the Business Minor—by request from that college! In July 2006, Business asked us to help with overflow in classes, knowing we already had offerings in Accountancy, Economics (under Arts and Science but applicable to the minor), Management, and Marketing. This has not only led to increased enrollments in some courses but also to commissioning of new or rewritten courses in Management, Economics, and Finance. In most cases, the authors have been adjuncts due to fiscal need and to correlation with online summer offerings. Some of the courses have taken us outside the box, utilizing audio or streaming video, while others were much more linear and textbook- or lecture-note-based.


Luckily, both Film Studies and Business fit right into the Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree completion program, which includes Humanities and Business components—areas of concentration worth 15 credits each. Thus developing these courses helps more than one curricular niche.


Stay tuned in future years for updates on “the major and the minor.”



Evan Smith

Michael Amick is Energized!

May 10, 2008

 “I’m Not Crazy!”

I find myself saying this often after trying to advocate for an online instruction technique to a naysayer.  The annual AACIS conference is not only a great place to network with independent  study/distance ed.  folks,  it’s a chance to validate that I am not crazy for working in online education. 

 At the 2007 conference in Ogden, I was able to attend a session that provided me with a real way of offering lab sciences online–that had been fully researched, to boot!  This has been a major sticking point on my campus and seeing it presented and being done so well was a much needed affirmation for me. 

I am already looking forward to St. Louis because I am sure by then I will be feeling a little nuts and will be in need of the benefits the conference offers. 

So it is nice to know I am not crazy; either that, or everyone at the conference is …hmmmm.   


–Michael Amick

 Director of Online Learning

Central Lakes College, MN


Susanne Darcy retires

May 10, 2008

 Susanne Darcy retired from the University of Missouri’s Center for Distance and Independent Study (CDIS) in September 2007 after 28 years of outstanding service and leadership in the field of distance education. Susanne served as Assistant Director for Operations and Student Services at CDIS from 1997 to 2007. At CDIS, she also served as Assistant Editor from 1979 to 1983, Course Development Supervisor from 1983 to 1985, and Assistant Director for Curriculum and Course Development from 1985 to 1997.







Prior to beginning her career at CDIS, Susanne earned degrees from St. Louis University, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and the University of Missouri. While enrolled in graduate school, she taught at private secondary schools in Illinois, California, and Missouri, and served as a teaching assistant in the Department of English while working on her Ph.D. at the University of Missouri.  


As a high school English teacher from 1962 until 1974, Susanne served on the Higher Learning Commission Accreditation for the Academy of Notre Dame, Belleville, Illinois, and for Notre Dame High School, in St. Louis, Missouri, also serving as the Program of Studies Chairperson at the latter. Susanne also made several presentations at regional and local conferences during this time.


Susanne has been a Consultant Evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools since 1994. She is still serving the Commission in this position and has served on 13 committees thus far. Susanne has also served as a member of the Readers’ Panel for the Accreditation Review Counsel for the HLC since 2004. She is also still serving the HLC in this position and has participated in seven Readers’ Panel reviews so far.


Susanne has been an active member of AACIS since 1993. She served on the AACIS membership committee from 2002-03 and on the AACIS Professional Development committee from 2004-07.


She has been an active member of UCEA since 1985 and held various offices from 1992 to 2000: Administrative Committee, Secretary, Chair-Elect, and Chair—Division of Independent Study, UCEA. From 1985 to 2002, she also served on the following UCEA committees—Individual Awards, By-Laws, Finance, Nominations, Peterson’s Guide, 1995-1996 (Chair), Course Awards, 1995—1996 (Chair), Newsletter, and Program, 2001—2002 (Co-Chair).


Susanne received numerous awards and honors for her achievements, including a Southern Illinois University Graduate Scholarship in 1970 and an English Graduate Assistant Teaching Award from the University of Missouri in 1979. As recognition of Susanne’s outstanding career in the field of distance education, she was given the Distinguished Service Award, Independent Study Division of UCEA, in 1999.


Von Pittman, the director of the Center for Distance and Independent Study, calls Susanne our institutional memory and a “champion road warrior” for her work at many national and state conferences and exhibits promoting distance education. Those who know Susanne regard her highly and fondly recall her graciousness, sense of humor, friendship, and leadership. 


CDIS is grateful to Susanne for her dedication, her many accomplishments, and the difference she made in those whose lives she touched. Her husband, Pat, also retired from his position as principal of Columbia Catholic School this year, and they plan to travel extensively. We hope they are enjoying their newfound freedom!   


Call for Proposals for the 16th Annual AACIS Conference

May 10, 2008

“Follow the road to Independent Study”

St. Louis, Missouri

Hosted by Southern Illinois University

November 6th – 8th, 2008


Has your program met a new challenge, tried out a new technology or solved a problem in student/faculty service?  Can you share a successful organizational or budget model?  Perhaps you’ve initiated some creative new programming or re-energized an existing program?


AACIS invites distance and independent learning professionals to submit proposals on topics related to administration, learner needs and services, curriculum, technology, faculty issues, and research.  Encourage your staff to take advantage of this professional growth opportunity and present their findings in a supportive, collegial environment.  AACIS welcomes presentations from community and technical colleges, universities both private and public, and from high school independent study programs.


Proposals should include the following:



!     Short working title.



!     Brief statement of the presenter’s background, as well as the presenter’s phone number, mailing address and e-mail.  If there are multiple presenters, include contact information for each.



!     Summarize your presentation in one or two paragraphs describing the content and objectives.  This summary will be used in the final program to describe your presentation.



!     Describe the format and any media equipment needed.



!            More than one proposal may be submitted, but multiple presentations will be considered only if there is space on the agenda.



!            Early submissions are encouraged.


Presenters will receive a discount on registration fees and are encouraged to participate in the entire conference.  Presentations are typically 40–50 minutes in length and may utilize a variety of formats from single speaker to multiple presenters to group discussion.


 To submit your proposal, please use the convenient e-mail form available at the conference Web site:


After filling out the interactive PDF form, to complete submission you will click on “submit by email” field at top of form.


 Deadline for submission, June 16, 2008.


If you encounter technical difficulties with the submission form, please contact our SIU conference coordinator, Vanessa Sneed at:



For information about AACIS and past conference programs, see:


If you have questions about your proposal, contact:

Meredith Gilbert, 2008 Program Chair

Western Washington University



We look forward to seeing you in St. Louis!


Officer Nominations now being accepted

May 10, 2008

Nominations are now being accepted for the President-elect, Treasurer, and four members of the Board of Directors.   This is your opportunity to help AACIS identify individuals who will guide the organization for the next two years.

The President-elect takes office at the 2008 annual conference and serves as the program chair for the 2009 conference. This individual then holds the office of AACIS president for 2010, and chairs the nomination election process in 2011. Serving in this position is a three-year commitment. For this position only, individuals nominated must be (or have been) an AACIS officer, Board member, or chair of a standing committee.

The Treasurer takes office at the 2008 conference and serves a two-year term. The person in this position receives and handles all monies on behalf of the organization. The treasurer will work with the Membership Committee chair to monitor the membership list of the organization. The treasurer will serve a two-year term.

 In 2008, AACIS will elect four members of the Board of Directors. These individuals take office at the 2009 conference and serve a two-year term. The Board is the primary advisory and governing body of AACIS. The responsibilities of the board include advising the officers of the organization, establishing committees and advisory groups as needed, soliciting bids and choosing the site of annual conferences, and establishing policies and procedures to ensure the effective functioning of the organization.

(Current Board members whose terms expire at the end of 2008 may be nominated for another term, if they have not served two consecutive terms.)

 All individuals nominated for these positions must be active members (dues paid) at the time of their nomination and, if elected, for the years of their service.

Members may self-nominate.

If you wish to nominate someone, please verify that the individual is willing and able to accept the nomination.

Nominations will be accepted through Monday, June 2, 2008. Please e-mail the nominations to: Lisa Bourlier at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,

Be sure to include the name and e-mail address of the nominee and the office for which he/she is being nominated.

A Message from AACIS President

May 10, 2008

Hello everyone.  Can you believe our conference in Ogden, UT was six months ago?  I guess since I didn’t make it there, it seems like it has been much longer since I have seen many of you.  I still feel like the kid who had to miss Christmas.  Anyway, life goes on, and so does my presidency.




I should probably mention that this is one of those articles THAT YOU SHOULD READ… not because I am a profound writer or because I am one of those arrogant people who thinks that what I have to say is more important than anyone else, but you should read this article because it contains important information regarding the future direction of AACIS.


I should back up a little bit and give you some information about myself.  Almost two years ago I was asked to run for President of this organization.  I remember being honored that someone was confident that I could serve in this position.  But after the flattery wore off, I remember thinking to myself, “Ok.  Now what?  Now that I have the position, what should I do with it?” 


After much deliberation I thought it would be beneficial to investigate where this organization has been.  In all honesty, even being a member for over a decade, I still didn’t know where we had come from or why we had originated.  The best way to find out, I thought, was to put together a panel presentation in Utah to talk about our origins.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there for the discussion, and as a result, I thought I should go one step further and create a task force to help me clarify “where have we been” and “where we want to go.” 


The taskforce has been very busy helping me do what I refer to as “good work.”  (Thank you, Mr. Keillor, for that phrase.)  After all, when the day is done and we leave the chaos and of our office, isn’t that what we need to look toward to help us sleep at night.  The good work?


The taskforce consists of Von Pittman, Jane Hancock, Leah Blakey, Lisa Bourlier, Elizabeth Houdek, Deb Gearhart, and myself.  We have been investigating the key question “Where is AACIS going?” After several conversations a couple of key themes have surfaced.


1.               AACIS needs to have a serious discussion about the possibility of changing its name to better reflect the changes that are happening in our industry and in our institutions.  A discussion about the words independent study vs. distance learning and synonyms such as these need to take place.


2.               The AACIS Board membership and the board members responsibilities need to be reviewed and revisited.  Many of the roles have changed, and the make up of the board should reflect those changes.


3.               We need to market ourselves not only to ourselves, but to colleagues throughout the world of distance education.


4.               Our web-presence needs to be reviewed, updated, and refined.


5.               We need to survey our members to find out what value they receive from this organization.  Doing so will help us promote our organization better.


6.               To take care of our future we need to take care of our past.  This will require that we develop a better plan for archiving our materials.


7.               AACIS may have to spend some of its reserve funds to make these changes happen.


8.               The current way in which membership is addressed and the collection of dues needs to be revisited.


Ok.  How about that for a few things on my plate?  That is the where we are during this fine April day.  More discussions are going to take place on these issues, and the taskforce will continue to meet to bring forth a set of deliverables to the next AACIS conference.


I will be posting discussion topics on the list-serve shortly to get input from all members of the organization, so watch for those, and be sure to respond honestly.  After all, I am here to serve your needs, not my own.


I am very much enjoying my term as president, and I certainly don’t take the responsibility lightly.  I will do my best to maintain open communication with all of you.  As always, if you have any issues that you want to discuss with me, feel free to contact me directly at any time.




Jon Skaare

AACIS President 2007-2008