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The Indiana Daily Student

administration academics & research

Trustees approve joint degree program, capital projects

The IU Board of Trustees approved the creation of an online Bachelor of Applied Science degree program as well as two IU Bloomington capital projects totaling $10.5 million on the campus of IU-East Richmond Thursday night.

The online degree will be the first bachelor’s degree program offered jointly by all five IU-administered regional campuses and one of the first BAS degrees offered in the state. It must now be approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission.

The degree would be offered at IU-East, IU-Kokomo, IU-Northwest, IU-South Bend and IU-Southeast.

“Joint degrees such as this provide increased educational opportunities for students while capitalizing on economies of scale created by sharing faculty and classes across all five regional campuses,” said John Applegate, IU executive vice president for university academic affairs in a press release.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie’s IU Online Initiative, geared toward increasing availability of high-quality degrees to students state-wide, is funding the degree.

Coursework for the proposed online BAS could be oriented toward several specific career fields, such as hospital administration, general supervision or entry-level management. The degree would track into about 34 occupations that can be grouped into three clusters: specialty business, supervisory and management, according to a press release.

The new degree is designed for students who are already in the workforce but need a more advanced degree to improve job options, said Sharon Calhoon, assistant vice president for university academic and regional campus affairs.

“Currently, the Associate of Applied Science degree does not align well with Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees, so students with an AAS typically lose a substantial number of credit hours when they go on to pursue either degree,” Calhoon said in a press release.

IU research has identified a great demand for this degree, which is very closely aligned with future workforce needs in the state, according to a press release. It is expected that students in the BAS degree program will develop skills that will help them advance in their careers and earn better salaries.

Board of Trustees Chair Tom Reilly warned participants at last week’s Bloomington Faculty Council forum that an emphasis on online education could result in increased legislation from the State of Indiana, such as Senate Bill 182 and House Bill 1384.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Reilly said, in reference to the recently passed SB 182 and HB 1384. “Online programs are going to be a part of a total reconstruction of what a degree will look like.”

Students will be able to take all of their courses online or combine online instruction with classroom instruction. Full-time students who already have an associate degree in applied science will be able to complete their bachelor’s degree in two years, according to the press release.

The Board also approved a $6.8 million project to improve parking at the Northwest Quadrant. The plan replaces the existing gravel with a roadway and trees.

“It’s going to solve a lot of issues,” Associate Vice President for IU Communications Mark Land said. “It’s hard to offer parking to students with a gravel lot.”

The second project proposal passed, estimated at $3.7 million, will create a new loading dock for trucks delivering food to Wright Food Court. The dock will prevent trucks from blocking the one-way road that separates Wright and Teter quadrangles.

Some presentations originally scheduled for last week’s meeting were moved to the Board’s February meeting, including Provost Lauren Robel’s strategic plan update titled Research at IU Bloomington, and a New Academic Directions update on the last three years of President Michael McRobbie’s initiative.

The next meeting will take place Feb. 13 and 14 at IU-Purdue Indianapolis.

Follow reporter Hannah Alani on Twitter @hannahalani.

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