Athabasca University degree graduands meet face-to-face at Convocation… usually for the first and last time

June 5, 2001

Athabasca University’s Class of 2001 includes 539 graduands from 25,000 current students across Canada and around the world. They have completed the academic requirements for three graduate and eight undergraduate degrees, including the first Master of Health Studies degrees, and will be recognized on June 8 and 9, 2001 during the University’ 24th annual convocation ceremonies to be held in Athabasca, about 150 km north of Edmonton.

The 315 undergraduate and 224 graduate degree students
comprise the University’s largest graduating class ever, up
20 per cent over 2000.

In addition, the University will have conferred 290 advanced graduate diplomas, university certificates, and university diplomas in the past year, bringing the total number of credentials to 829.

The vast majority of students have never met in-person.

“Convocation is the first time most of our students set foot
on campus and, with a few exceptions, the only time they
meet face-to-face with their professors, tutors, and fellow students,” says president Dr. Dominique Abrioux.

“Online and distance learning is not the isolating
experience it once was,” he continues. “Many students communicate regularly with tutors and students by e-mail or phone during their courses and programs, so Convocation is a time to put a face to a name or a voice.”

There are a few exceptions. The University’s online Master of Business Administration, for example, includes short-term residential schools at intervals throughout the program.

This year’s graduating class includes learners in 58 communities in Alberta, all 10 provinces and three territories in Canada, eight US states, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

About 245 graduands and 900 family, friends, special guests, and University staff are expected in Athabasca over the two days.

“A university credential earned through online and distance learning requires self-discipline and motivation,” Abrioux points out. “We take great pride in celebrating the accomplishments of these adult learners who have juggled careers and families while taking on the extraordinary challenge of completing university courses and degrees online and at a distance.”

On June 8, graduate degrees in Business Administration, Distance Education, and Health Studies will be conferred on 224 students. 115 graduate students plan to travel to Athabasca to receive their parchments in-person. An Honorary Doctor of Letters will be conferred on Holger Petersen, co-owner of Edmonton’s Stony Plain Records for the past 25 years, and the host of Canada’s longest-running Blues radio program, Natch’l Blues (for 32 years on CKUA), as well as CBC Radio’s Saturday Night Blues, for 14 years.

On June 9, undergraduate degrees in Administration, Arts, Commerce, General Studies, Nursing, Professional Arts (Communication Studies, Criminal Justice), Science, and Computing Science will be conferred on 315 students. 130 undergraduates are expected in Athabasca. An Honorary Doctor of Letters will be conferred on Maria Campbell, an early activist in the Aboriginal rights movement, a community worker, and widely acclaimed Metis author who has promoted Metis culture, traditions, politics, issues, and priorities in Canada.

Athabasca University has 25,000 online and distance
education students completing undergraduate and graduate courses and university credentials. Canada’s largest and fastest growing online and distance education university, Athabasca University was founded in 1970. It offers more than 500 Individualized Study and Grouped Study courses, bachelors and masters degrees, university certificates, and diplomas, all through online learning and other distance delivery methods.