Archive for the ‘Individual News, Awards and Achievements’ Category

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.

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!

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!