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International Award for Online Education Goes to UMass Lowell


Prestigious Sloan Consortium Honors Jacqueline Moloney for Pioneering Work and Excellence

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ The most prestigious international group of colleges and universities that offer online learning recently presented its top honor to UMass Lowell Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, a pioneer in the field.

Moloney was the only American educator to receive the 2009 award for the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual from the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) at its 15th annual international conference. The only other winner is from Canada’s University of Calgary.

“The 2009 recipients have demonstrated exceptional leadership and real success in advancing online education,” said University of Illinois Prof. Burks Oakley II, chair of the Sloan-C Awards Committee.

With the 2009 honor, UMass Lowell has won all but one of the nine national awards given by Sloan-C, except for a new one added this year. UMass Lowell’s awards are in areas ranging from individual and system-wide excellence in teaching and programming to strength in faculty development. Last year, UMass Lowell and its partner UMassOnline received the Most Outstanding Online Learning and Teaching Awards for the certificate program in behavioral intervention in autism.

Moloney was selected for the award for the 15 years she has devoted to advancing online education. She spearheaded UMass Lowell’s movement into online education, at a time when other institutions of higher education did not see the need. Under her leadership, that program has grown from 400 students and a handful of courses to more than 12,000 enrollments and full degree programs, including an MBA, offered entirely online.

Moloney is a national leader in using online education to solve problems, including her work with the Sloan Foundation to set up the “Sloan Semester” that allowed thousands of college students displaced by Hurricane Katrina to continue their education online until they could return to campus. Today, Moloney continues to lead innovation in online learning, moving UMass Lowell into “blended” programs that combine online and classroom learning for the optimum educational experience for students.

Sloan-C is an institutional and professional leadership organization dedicated to integrating online learning into mainstream higher education, as well as helping institutions and individual educators improve the quality, scale and breadth of online programs. It is an offshoot of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a prestigious organization devoted to higher education excellence, access and affordability.

Moloney said winning the Sloan-C award was a humbling experience because of the company it places her in, with previous years’ winners. “It actually took my breath away. It’s a lifetime achievement award and these are national experts.”

It’s also an honor Moloney sees as not just for her, but for the entire university. “It really is a statement about UMass Lowell’s capacity for innovation; it shows what our campus stands for,” she said.

“Jacquie Moloney epitomizes UMass Lowell’s entrepreneurial approach to education that distinguishes this university from others around the nation,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan, who promoted Moloney to executive vice chancellor after he was appointed in July 2007. “This vision for the future of education and the drive to meet the needs of students and employers are just a few of the reasons why UMass Lowell is growing, online and on campus.”

Moloney initiated UMass Lowell’s movement into online education when she was heading the university’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Education Division. “We were extending and expanding access for adult learners who wanted to pursue education but couldn’t do so because of time constraints,” she said. “The Internet was really getting off the ground and it seemed like a no-brainer to use it as a means to deliver education to these students.”

Now, she said, “we know from the response we got and the letters I have received from students over the years that it was the right thing to do. We worked hand in hand with faculty and students to develop our online program and we built a program that did address their needs. It’s very rewarding.”

“The investments made in online learning are paying real dividends as enrollments continue to soar,” said Bruce Chaloux, president of Sloan-C. “Our watchwords of quality, scale and breadth are epitomized by individuals and institutions we honor this year.”

Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois, said of Moloney, “It is, I think, her accomplishments in converting those who had not yet caught the vision, in inspiring many to seek to become leaders in our field and in being a steadfast beacon of reasoned enthusiasm for us all …that qualifies her for recognition for this award.”

Moloney was nominated for the award by Charmaine Hickey, director of UMass Lowell’s Faculty Development Center. “Jacquie has been a vanguard for online, blended and Web-enhanced teaching and learning,” Hickey said. “The Sloan-C nomination seemed to be an appropriate expression of long-overdue thanks and recognition for her leadership, mentoring and work in this field, not only for UMass Lowell, but also UMassOnline, the University of Massachusetts system and nationally.”

“This award is validation of UMass Lowell’s commitment to providing students, both nationally and internationally, access to the university’s academic programs through its investment in online education,” said Catherine Kendrick, executive director of distance market development and corporate outreach for UMass Lowell’s Continuing Studies.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.


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