Distance education dean position

October 9, 2003

Western Carolina University seeks an outstanding leader to serve as the University’s Dean of Distance and Continuing Education. The information presented below will provide prospective candidates and nominators with information about the special qualities of Western Carolina University and its needs for leadership by the next Dean of Distance and Continuing Education.

Western Carolina University is a coeducational residential public university within the University of North Carolina system. It is located in Cullowhee, near the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, fifty miles west of Asheville. It has centers for teaching in several locations throughout the region, and has an aggressive electronic learning and outreach program. It was the first public university in the state, and one of the first dozen public universities nationwide, to require students to have networkable computers as a condition for admission. Cited as one of the “nation’s gems” by the Washington Post’s education reporter, the University has received more than $12 million in federal funding to support technological development.

With enrollment exceeding 7,500 students this fall, it is expected to top 10,000 by the end of the current decade. Freshman enrollment is up more than 20% this year and the residential Honors College has nearly 800 students. Additionally, the SAT scores for students have increased 58 points in less than a decade, and the University enjoys a nearly 71% retention rate. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (as well as by many specialized accrediting agencies), the University offers more than 120 majors and concentrations for undergraduates. In addition, it has over 30 graduate level programs including the doctorate in education. Western Carolina University is widely recognized as a state leader in economic development. Its teacher education program is rated among the best in the state. The nursing program is ranked at the top in the state.

Distance education at Western Carolina University is viewed as involving both electronically mediated and face-to-face education. With an unduplicated headcount of more than 600 distance education students currently, and the University has a goal to enroll more than 3,000 unduplicated headcount students by the end of the decade. Its off-campus offerings for both undergraduate and graduate students are programmed in conjunction with community colleges, health care providers, and government agencies across the western third of North Carolina.

The distance education and summer school programs enjoy the support and cooperation of the campus community. With the schools and departments having direct participation in determining the course offerings and receiving the resulting benefits, the academic integrity of the programs are assured and maintained by the faculty. Since the credit hours for distance education and summer school receive full state funding, the State of North Carolina values the outreach efforts of the University. Because of its geographic location and expanded facilities, the opportunity for growth and expansion of the summer school program is enormous.

Western Carolina University is in the midst of a $160M building program, and it is expected that the building program could grow to exceed $250M in the next five years. With a new performing arts center and facilities for its engineering and related programs under construction, the University is also expanding its athletic facilities to better serve its NCAA Division I athletic programs.

The University is a part of the “Carolina Micro-optics Triangle,” which will promote research and technology transfer in optical electronics. It also has national partnerships in optical engineering with the University of Southern California and Stanford University. The University has an advanced rapid prototyping system and has one of the most accurate precision metrology devices in higher education for measuring three-dimensional objects. The University opened an advanced laser-based communications research laboratory this fall.

The Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper says Western Carolina University “is in a transformation phase, both in image and reality. The academic framework is rising, and the University’s largest building boom in decades is also taking place.” It is clearly a University on the move.

The University’s campus is located in Jackson County at the confluence of Cullowhee Creek and the Tuckasegee River. Long the home of the Cherokee Indians, the region occupies an area in the beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains. Recreational opportunities abound in the region, and it is rapidly becoming known as an excellent tourist destination and retirement area. About an hour’s drive from Gatlinburg, TN and Pigeon Forge, TN, (Dollywood), the breathtaking beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains captures the eye from almost any vantage point.

The sun can be hot, but the mountains are cool. There are many things to do and places to go year round. Swimming in the rivers or nearby lakes, fishing, rafting, picnicking and camping-are just a few of the many outdoor attractions of the area. Entertainment in nearby resort areas and the cultural opportunities of Asheville and surrounding areas are but a few of the many opportunities for leisure. The Cherokee Tribe’s Casino is a short distance away, and Atlanta is less than three hours by automobile. During the fall, the color season is among the best in the nation. A drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway or a trip to Bear Lake gives peace to the soul and pleasure to the eye. Places like Nantahala, Pisgah, and many other mountain towns, the nearby National Park, the numerous antique dealers along the way, all attest to the Mountain Heritage of the region.

The economy of the region, while heavily tourist and recreation oriented, is expanding. The capabilities of Western Carolina University and the other educational institutions in the region, coupled with the desire of many companies to move to a more environmentally friendly region for living and working, have seen the entire western third of North Carolina begin to grow and prosper. The region still has many untapped resources and is just beginning to utilize them for growth.

It is a pleasure to work and play in the Cullowhee area of North Carolina. People who settle here want to, and do, stay.

Western Carolina University is in an enviable position to attract a highly qualified Dean of Distance and Continuing Education. For individuals looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students, the region and the State of North Carolina, this opportunity should command their attention. It is also an opportunity to develop national visibility in distance education. Here are some of the reasons.

A Campus Committed to Distance and Continuing Education The strategic development of the campus over the past several years has given it the intellectual capital and the technological capacity to emerge as one of the nation’s leaders in electronically mediated education. The opportunity for both existing businesses and governmental entities in the region, the resources of the University, coupled with the rapid development of the economy of the western third of North Carolina have converged to make the opportunities for expansion of mediated education nearly unexcelled. No other university in the region is so poised for leadership.

A University Energized by the Opportunities for Growth and Service The commitment of the faculty and staff of the University to the vision of growth and service which has emerged over the past few years, supported by energetic and creative leadership to target the University’s resources and strengthen the quality of its student body and academic programs, has resulted in a palpable energy for all who visit the campus. The Dean will join a campus that knows its goals, and is committed to achieving them.

Linkage of Program Offerings with Academic Divisions of the University The offerings of Distance and Continuing Education at WCU are coordinated through the Deans of the other Colleges and Divisions. The responsibility for quality control and expansion is dependent on the support of the academic divisions of the University, and they see the advantages accruing to them of expanding the Distance and Continuing Education programs of the University.

Opportunity to Lead a Strong Office of the University

The University has had the benefit of strong leadership in Distance and Continuing Education. Its planning process, the strength and commitment of the staff, a relatively strong financial position, plus the commitment of its faculty and staff throughout the University have resulted in a leadership opportunity for a Dean who wants to make significant progress in a dynamic University environment.

Unique Service Area

Western Carolina University’s location has some unique characteristics. The heritage of the mountain economy, the commitment of the people of the region, the support and encouragement of the University System office, the commitment of the Legislature, and the need for easy access to the resources of the University make the opportunity for growth in distance education nearly unexcelled. Coupled with the recently developed capacity of the University’s electronic delivery systems is the commitment of the faculty of the University to expand the University’s reach throughout western North Carolina and the state. If economic development of the region is to succeed, it will be with the leadership and involvement of the University.

Financial Stability

The fiscal support for credit-generating offerings from the state provides a level of financial incentive not shared by all public institutions. The narrowly focused yet nationally recognized research and educational efforts in key discipline areas are an untapped resource for the region as well as the University for economic development. While budgets are developed as

any other part of the University, the opportunity to build a resource base through non-credit offerings and linkages exists with business and industry in the state.

Well Developed Campus That is Continuing to Grow
The University has built several new buildings on its campus the past several years. Its new performing arts building are stunning, both in architectural beauty and its functionality for serving student and community needs. Other additions such as its engineering complex, its expanded athletic facilities and on-going campus renovations have enhanced the serviceability of its infrastructure. Technological improvements have strengthened its academic programs; careful tending has made the main campus grounds beautiful. Physical plant operations function effectively, serving faculty, staff and students.

Increasing Enrollment and Retention Rate
The enrollment of the University has been growing. The university has also taken several steps to strengthen the quality of the students it attracts, and as a result, the retention rate is stable. It has been careful in taking these steps to assure it is still responsive to the needs of the state and the students it attracts.

Linkage with Other Educational and Governmental Institutions
Western Carolina University has developed cooperative degree and program arrangements with community colleges and other governmental entities throughout the region, providing the University with a number of teaching centers off the main campus. Those working relationships with other educational providers benefit the University by providing a smooth transition for students transferring to its campuses and broadening student opportunities for educational advancement. It also provides a ready supportive base for expanding new and existing credit and non-credit offerings. The next Dean will be able to strengthen and add to these strong relationships, creating additional exciting partnerships.

Serving the Needs of the State
The expansion of the University into economic development and mediated education has been successful because the programs it offers are not in direct competition with those of other universities. In its programming, Western Carolina University has been responsive to the educational needs of business and industry throughout the region and the state. It is a University whose mission is well known and well validated by the citizens of the state.

Even with its enviable position, the University must address several significant challenges in developing and expanding its distance and continuing education programs. It must deal with these issues in order to keep it on a steady course to achieve its mission. The next Dean must provide effective leadership in addressing several significant challenges.

Marketing the Opportunities in Distance and Continuing Education While the University has committed itself to growth and development in Distance and Continuing Education, it is a story that has yet to be told in a way that will allow the University to achieve its goals for growth and development.

Marshalling the Resources to Achieve University Goals
All the pieces are in place. What is needed is a leader who can join the team and orchestrate the resources to develop Distance and Continuing Education as rapidly and as carefully as the University projects.

Development of the Summer School Offerings

The University is located in a region that is attractive for individuals to study. The University has not maximized its potential for growth in its Summer School. Distance and Continuing Education needs to work with its academic colleagues to show the incentive for participation in Summer School programming. Additionally, there is a need for marketing the opportunities for learning in a residential setting such as the Cullowhee area during one of the most beautiful seasons of the year.

Development of a More Dependable and Accurate Reporting System
The growth of Distance and Continuing Education will require the development and construction of more sophisticated reporting systems. The next Dean will need to address this issue.

Develop a Team Vision Among Other Academic Leaders
The University’s decision to link Distance and Continuing Education program offerings with the other academic divisions of the University is a relatively recent one. Therefore, the next Dean will need to develop a “team” approach to the growth and development of Distance and Continuing Education with the other Deans.

Resource Development
While the credit offerings of Distance and Continuing Education carry state financial support, there are a host of opportunities for this office to develop additional resources to support its efforts. While the Office of Advancement is committed to assistance, it is the Dean who will need to provide the leadership for resource growth.

There are other issues in Distance and Continuing Education at Western Carolina University that must be addressed by the next Dean. The above are among those needing prompt attention.

The above priorities for leadership, coupled with the University’s historic mission, aspirations, locations and current statewide conditions suggest that the next Dean should display particular values and competencies. This is a key position for the University, and the successful candidate will need to be a mature, experienced and capable individual who will assume the leadership role in the marketing and significant expansion of distance education programs. The University and its Dean Search Advisory Committee believe the following characteristics are among the most important.

An earned doctorate or terminal degree from a regionally accredited institution and in an academic discipline is preferred but not required. An innovative leader with a demonstrated record of leadership and management in a complex organization. One who will lead and challenge the office to new levels of success. At least three to five years of administrative service in higher education.

Demonstrated success in expanding distance education programs. The ability to be an effective spokesperson for the office with all constituencies on and off the campuses Evidence of effectiveness in program development and the acquisition of resources to support the programs. An entrepreneurial approach to programming. Excellent analytical abilities. Demonstrated ability to manage the financial resources of the office, including budget development and implementation in times of both strong support and budget reduction. A strong sense of vision for the Office of Distance and Continuing Education, and demonstrated commitment to lead, challenge and continually assess its effectiveness. Effective interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate with people at all levels on and off-campus. The ability to make tough decisions and build organizational consensus to implement such decisions Demonstrated ability to build a strong administrative team that will work collaboratively to achieve mutually defined goals. This includes abilities in team leadership within the office and the academic divisions of the University. The ability to delegate and hold persons responsible. A track record of support for technological innovations or an innovative leader who supports the use of technology to facilitate learning. Demonstrated commitment to diversity in all its manifestations, and a willingness to seek every possible opportunity to enhance the number of underrepresented populations in the office and those who participate in its program offerings. Willingness to live in a small, mountain community environment and work for a university with a regional and statewide mission. A sense of humor.

August 29 — Consultant visits campus for Profile interviews
September 19 — First Dean Search Advisory Committee Meeting
September 26 or October 3 — First running of ad in Chronicle of Higher Education
October 3 or October 10 Second running of ad in Chronicle of Higher Education

October 10 or October 17 — Third running of ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education
October 27 — Deadline for receipt of applications
October 28 — Second Dean Search Advisory Committee Meeting
Screen to 12-18 preliminary candidates for reference checking.
November 7 — Third Dean Search Advisory Committee Meeting
Screen candidates from “intermediate” number to “semi-finalist” number-no more than 8-10 for telephone interviews
November 14 Fourth Dean Search Advisory Committee Meeting
Selection of 3-5 finalists for campus interviews
November 17-30 On-campus interviews of candidates
After November 30 Announcement of Successful Candidate.

The deadline for applications is October 27, 2003, with an expected selection of the next Dean in early December. Applications should include: a letter describing the candidate’s interest in and qualifications for the position; a curriculum vitae or resume; a statement of how the candidate’s experiences and qualifications match the University’s mission, strategic direction and desired characteristics for the next dean; and the names, addresses (including e-mail), and telephone numbers for at least five references which may include faculty, administrators, colleagues at the current and former places of employment, students and community leaders.

All nominations and applications should be addressed to:
Dr. James B. Appleberry, Senior Consultant
Academic Search Consultation Service
c/o Dean Search
Western Carolina University
222 Killian Building
Cullowhee, NC 28723

Electronic Applications may be submitted to:

Telephone inquiries may be made to Dr. Appleberry at 502-895-6121, or by e-mail at jba1233@insightbb.com. Additional information may be obtained by visiting the website at www.wcu.edu or www.academic-search.org under the heading “current searches.”

Western Carolina University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. It actively seeks and encourages nominations of and expressions of interest from women and members of underrepresented populations.