Published: Sept. 13, 2019

Provost Russell Moore and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fox today announced they are accepting the recommendations of the Academic Futures-Financial Futures Online (AF-FF) Strategy Working Group to create a single coherent online and distance organization to serve the campus. These recommendations will allow the Boulder campus to better coordinate with the other campuses in the University of Colorado system in their combined efforts to deliver online education and better serve the state of Colorado.

Provost Russell L. Moore

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Russell L. Moore

“This organization will be accountable for teaching and technology for all online, hybrid and distance education, emphasizing a student-centered perspective that aligns with the campus mission,” said Moore. 

The campus will move quickly to create an online and distance organization that will be student-centered, simple for students and faculty to engage and that will honor the vision of the Academic Futures report. This new organization will be under the leadership of Dean of Libraries Robert McDonald, who will report to Moore in the new role of senior vice provost of online education. 

“We are pleased that Dean McDonald will bring his leadership to align our efforts in support of President Kennedy’s prioritization of online learning,” Moore and Fox said. 

“This approach can truly distinguish CU Boulder’s online and distance offerings among our research university peers by assembling all of the campus’s relevant resources together with our faculty and staff expertise from across campus,” McDonald said. 

Sara Thompson, dean of Continuing Education, will oversee a centralized hub for online as dean and vice provost that will supply the support our faculty, departments, schools and colleges need to move forward in online-distance education. Thompson will be responsible for all of the hub’s operations involving the production, marketing and deployment of online offerings from CU Boulder. 

“We are excited to have Thompson and McDonald partner on this effort” said Moore. “Placing our online and distance efforts in this administrative structure harnesses the campus’s combined intellectual and digital resources under one umbrella organization and leverages the campus’s established and respected academic resources among faculty, staff, students and the community.”

Executive Vice Chancellor and COO Kelly Fox

Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Kelly Fox

Moore and Fox will soon appoint three working groups to create detailed plans to enable the campus to move forward to the new future. The first working group will develop a plan to move from our current state of online education to the future desired state. The second group will consider bold new possibilities for Continuing Education as a program innovator and incubator. The third group will focus on the resources and support functions necessary for the future of online and Continuing Education. The work of the groups will be conducted, and their recommendations finalized, by the end of the fall semester.

“Our commitment is to integrate select staff from Continuing Education, the Office of Information Technology, the Provost's Office for Academic Innovation and other organizations on campus into this new organization as seamlessly as possible,” said Fox. “We do not have plans for layoffs. Our goal is to preserve, as much as possible, the roles that these staff currently play within their current organizations, though some roles could change as the new organization matures.” 

These actions, Moore and Fox agreed, keep pace with the timelines and priorities set forth by the Academic Futures initiative. This is a key moment for the campus, where we are moving from our collective vision of Academic Futures to take concrete steps to implement its recommendations. The sign of success for Academic Futures projects is when they move from the Academic Futures visioning process to the campus as a whole under the appropriate leadership.