Online education plan gains momentum

Regents approve historic expansion to launch by 2022

CU's Online Degree Program Timeline

At its November board meeting, the CU Board of Regents approved a progressive $20 million proposal to implement the university’s online education goals over the next four years, including a fully online bachelor’s degree costing $15,000. At its Feb. 8 meeting at CU South Denver, the board approved the timetable and framework to greatly expand and solidify CU’s online education presence.

While the timeline is ambitious overall, one of the main areas of focus will be the $15,000 bachelor’s degree, said Regent Stephen Ludwig, D-Denver.

“That comes out to $125 per credit hour, all-in, including books,” Ludwig said. “This will require new thinking, new technology, new pedagogy, new ways of doing advising and student support, and new commitments to make it happen.

“If we tap our collective brain power, I'm sure we can solve the issues that achieving a $15,000 degree present.” 

The first deadline for the new structure is June 1, when the information technology governance representative will provide the board’s University Affairs Committee a plan with specific actions, timelines, measurable outcomes and more. The lion’s share of the online degree programs are slated to launch Sept. 1, 2022.

At their November meeting, the regents unanimously praised the initial plan, citing overwhelming need and the benefits that fully online programs offer rural communities, working individuals and military personnel. They stressed, however, the importance of seeing the proposal through to fruition. The timeframe approved last week is a large step in that direction.

“It was truly a joint effort,” said Ludwig, who introduced the initiative in 2017. “The regents worked together to provide strategic guidance. The administration worked to ensure that the effort moved forward with proper input from campus leadership. The chancellors selected which of the initiative goals best aligned with their campus’s strengths and mission.

“In the end, this initiative will provide each campus greater flexibility to meet the changing needs of current students and provide new opportunities to those that are being priced out of higher education.”

The online programs will be governed at the campus level. The leads for each campus include William Kuskin, CU Boulder; Harper Johnson, CU Colorado Springs; and Scot Chadwick, CU Denver | Anschutz. But engagement for the online programs will extend to all corners of all campuses, Ludwig said.             

“We have brilliant faculty who work to solve the world’s problems, unlock the mysteries of the universe, seek cures for diseases, patch back together broken bodies,  look deep into the human psyche, create amazing works of art, design fantastic buildings, create virtual worlds, and inspire us with new ways of thinking,” Ludwig said. Although it will not be easy, “The only true barrier is the will to get it done.”

 See the full presentation here.