TSU joins prestigious U.S. Navy program

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 17, 2000

Staff Writer

Nov. 16, 2000 10 PM

Troy State University has become a member of the Navy’s "Sweet 16."

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That is what the branch of military service is unofficially dubbing a distance learning program through 16 institutions of higher education, including Troy State.

Jack Hawkins, chancellor of the TSU System, said the recent announcement is the Navy’s most extensive effort to put college diplomas in the hands of sailors.

The program will begin on a pilot basis in January.

Last week, Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig named the 16 colleges chosen from a pool of 52 applicants that will offer degree programs, which are expected to aid in recruitment of servicemen and women and retention efforts.

Hawkins said the new degree program is another chapter in Troy State’s 50-year tradition of working with the armed forces. Two years ago, the Navy chose Troy State to offer an executive master of business administration degree to officers at sea via the Internet.

"It’s an honor to be chosen to work with the Navy to administer these programs," Hawkins said. "Troy State University has been a pioneer in distance education and the Secretary of the Navy said our track record was a key factor in our being chosen for this program."

Through its University College division, TSU operates degree programs on more than 50 military bases ­ including 14 Naval bases ­ in 14 states and five countries.

Rodney Cox, vice president of the University College division, said the announcement is definitely an honor and credit to the university.

When he and Hawkins traveled to Norfolk, Va. last week, the chancellor was presented the Plank Award, which signifies "the first on board get a piece on the plank," Cox said.

He said this program was a year in the making and adds to the programs TSU is already providing for enlisted personnel as bases, such as the one in Pensacola, Fla. and Meridian, Miss.

Cox said distance learning as become a "niche" for those, such as military personnel who cannot always attend classes in person.

"Most will go to class when they can," Cox said, adding distance learning allows them to "continue" their education even when they are at sea.

"What we’re doing is opening up education to an awful lot of people," Cox said of what distance learning offers.

Manfred Meine, director of the Florida region, is leading a systemwide effort to develop the curriculum and the system delivery for the program.

He said TSU will seek a variety of ways to make the programs accessible for sailors serving around the world, including using the Internet and CD-ROM.

Other institutions chosen for the program include: University of Maryland, Florida State University, Old Dominion University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Vincennes University in Indiana.