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Washington State University

Office of the PResident

Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 7/18/07

Developing a Global Campus

One of the greatest powers of the Internet is its ability to break
down the barriers of distance.

Today, articles from a newspaper in another country are a click away, just like the contents of your local newspaper. If you cannot find a specific product in a local store, you can buy it on the Internet from a merchant located anywhere. People interested in a particular field – whether it is Cougar sports or nuclear physics – can discover like-minded people worldwide with whom to share information on-line.

By making distance less relevant, the Internet permits exceptional programs to emerge, no matter what their location may be.  I believe Washington State University can take advantage by developing the concept of a Global Campus.

The programs that WSU offers through its Center for Distance and Professional Education already rank among the university’s success stories. Over the past decade, enrollment in our distance degree and professional education programs has steadily increased, with more than 2,400 students enrolled in 2006.

Many other public and private institutions offer distance learning programs. The growth of WSU’s programs is strong evidence of their quality.

I have talked with Muriel Oaks, dean of the Center for Distance and Professional Education, about building on the success of those programs and exploring the vision of a Global Campus. She shares my excitement about the concept.

It would require people from across the university to work together to provide a full array of academic courses and degree programs for our current and prospective students in a robust electronic format. That menu of courses would be available to learners at any time and from any location.

As with any idea we will pursue here at WSU, this must be backed by a strong business model. We must be able to support course, program and degree development and provide financial incentives for faculty and departments to engage in the Global Campus.

To be fully competitive, WSU needs to provide educational alternatives that work well for the many different students we serve. We are making great progress in that regard.

Many students, particularly those just out of high school, seek a residential campus experience. Our Pullman campus meets that demand, and, judging from the record numbers of applications from freshmen that we have received for the upcoming school year, is well-recognized for the excellent programs we offer.

Thanks to the legislature and the governor, WSU has been able to expand the choices available to students across Washington by offering freshmen programs at WSU Vancouver beginning in the fall of 2006 and at WSU Tri-Cities starting this fall. Both have proven to be extremely popular.

For a world-class institution, the Global Campus is a logical next step. Technology allows us to compete on an equal basis with any institution anywhere in the area of distance education. Given that level field, I am confident not just in WSU’s ability to be a player, but to be a leader.