K-State's institute for academic alliances receives congressionally directed grant


$248,000 will help colleges and universities collaborate

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Kansas State University's Institute for Academic Alliances has been awarded a $248,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Education to continue helping colleges and universities develop and deliver joint online graduate degrees and certificates.

U.S. Representative Jim Ryun, R-Kan., announced the congressionally directed grant.

The Institute for Academic Alliances provides consultation and support particularly to faculty and administrators at K-State in forming collaborative academic programs. Institute staff are working with groups of colleges and universities in 35 states and several European nations in areas such as cross-cultural healthcare, community development, supply chain management, early childhood, range management and security management. According to Sue Maes, none of the collaborating institutions could cost-effectively offer any of these programs alone. Maes co-directs the institute along with Virginia Moxley.

The institute utilizes the online K-State Survey System to identify and verify unmet educational needs and determine faculty, student and employer interest, institutional partners and collaboration barriers.

"This institute has arisen out of visionary ideas that the role of universities in the future must include the continued professional development of graduates, serving populations that for one reason or another cannot experience residential university education. The institute also recognizes that the current university structure makes it difficult to form faculties to teach in new disciplines and areas of academic need," said Elizabeth Unger, K-State vice provost for academic services and technology and dean of continuing education. "We at K-State are very proud of the institute and all of its accomplishments."

By collaborating and sharing resources, institutions can rapidly deploy inter-institutional Internet-based programs without jeopardizing their campus-based programs and without incurring the full cost or entire risk of new program implementation. Alliances allow institutions to embark on new paths in higher education that expand their outreach and responsiveness to new needs while generating a new source of income for their programs, attracting a diverse student body and positioning faculty to develop and teach classes they want to teach and interact with colleagues in their specializations who are employed by other universities.

"The basic idea is that a collection of universities forms to pool their faculties to be able to serve in a more responsive way," Unger said. "For instance, there is now student demand for degrees in tourism. No university in K-State's collaborative group has faculty sufficient to offer a degree in tourism, but all institutions can by collaborating with mediated or 'distance learning' technologies."

K-State's Institute for Academic Alliances is a recognized national leader in the development of model inter-institutional post-baccalaureate Internet-based programs; the institute recently won the National University Telecommunications Network Outstanding Distance Education Innovation Award for 2005 for their "Rapid-Response Inter-Institutional Academic Program Development and Implementation Model." K-State participates in three inter-institutional programs, in family financial planning, youth development and gerontology.

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