Jan 222009
 
Authors: Jim Sojourner

After receiving its accreditation last month, CSU Global Campus could become officially recognized by state statute through a bill introduced to the state legislature last week.

Although Global has been legally operating since its conception last fall, the bill introduced by Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, will give the online school the authority to operate in Colorado.

“I think it will be a good step in that it will establish (a) unique role and mission,” said Jenna Langer, the chief operating officer for Global Campus.

Langer said the Higher Learning Commission approved the extension of CSU’s accreditation to Global Campus last month, but said only the state legislature can provide the school with a statutory role and mission.

In addition, Langer said Global hopes to obtain an independent accreditation within two years.

If passed, Langer said, the bill will be just one more step towards Global’s eventual independence and will establish its mission to compliment, not compete with, the physical campuses by reaching out to a different demographic.

Tapia, a graduate of both the Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses, said as a student, he struggled to meet the economic demands of attending CSU, and he hopes his bill will extend CSU’s availability to a more diverse populace.

Langer said Global’s current population of more than 600 students consists largely of non-traditional students, many of whom are over 40 with full-time jobs.

Many of Global’s students are unable to attend a physical campus due to their jobs, fiscal challenges or geographic location, so Tapia said the online campus will provide an alternative option to obtain a CSU system degree.

“That degree comes with more weight,” Tapia said. “I’m hoping to give students another opportunity.”

Langer said that although the bill will grant Global greater autonomy, the online school will continue to work “closely aligned” with CSU-Fort Collins and Pueblo.

“We need to ensure that we are striving and reaching those (high) levels of quality,” she said.

However, she said as time goes on Global will be able to pursue its own goals to augment the physical campus system.

“Down the road, we need to be able to establish ourselves as different because we’re serving a different kind of student.”

Tapia sees the progression a bit differently.

“I don’t consider it greater independence,” Tapia said. “I consider it greater availability.”

Global currently offers undergraduate degree programs in business management, public administration and organizational leadership, and applied social sciences.

Master’s programs include management, organizational leadership and teaching and learning.

Langer said Global’s focus is providing students with programs that help them succeed in the public sector.

Senior Reporter Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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