Michael Hannan speaks on new PASSHE partnership with Clarion, Cal U

Category:  News
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 at 2:47 PM

On Sept. 14, Edinboro University, California University and Clarion University announced a three-way partnership of PASSHE schools.

The grouping comes with an intended spotlight on online education. Edinboro has made recent strides in this arena, while the partnership announcement stated that “PASSHE’s initial plan for university integrations paired California and Clarion, two schools with a history of offering nationally recognized online programs, to stand up a low-cost, high-quality online undergraduate degree and degree-completion program.”

Dr. Michael Hannan, Edinboro University provost, added that adult learners and completer degrees would be a related focus for EU.

“We have to diversify into the non-traditional student population, and we sort of have an advantage in our proximity to Erie in that there are a number of adults who have some college but have not finished a degree,” he said. “We have a competitive price position where we can make those opportunities available to those adults to complete their degrees, so I think we can make some progress there. Since a focus of both Clarion and California is expanded online undergraduate programming, an integration with these universities should help Edinboro’s goal of diversifying into the adult market in partnership with them.”

Further, he said some key Edinboro offerings are “historically most attractive to returning adults to college and that we should certainly try to deliver those programs in a way that is accessible to adult learners.”

Prior to the new collaboration, Edinboro was already making moves in online offerings.

Hannan mentioned that during planning sessions for the fall 2020 semester — before COVID-19 forced major educational changes, mostly pushing toward remote learning — the university already had courses set for multi-modal delivery where students could attend in person, watch live via Zoom, or watch later in the week via video upload.

“It sort of combines face-to-face synchronous delivery and asynchronous delivery all into one course. We have been using that in the MBA (Master of Business Administration) program that we launched about a year and a half ago, and that has been well received by those students,” he said.

Hannan believes that many adult students want the in-person class experience, while others have obligations that keep them from being able to attend. The multi-modal delivery would allow them to, “log in from home or their hotel room to participate live in a class that way, or they can at least watch the class two days later and do the assignments that way.”

This, according to Hannan, is how the university is trying to make education as convenient as possible in future semesters.

“I think we'll still make some progress in that sense even if we don't do as big a launch of an online undergraduate program as I had originally hoped,” he said.

The group announcement said, "Edinboro is a welcome contributor to that initiative (Cal U and Clarion’s online offerings) and to the trio’s collective efforts to further enhance opportunities for students.” The three PASSHE schools “already share successful academic programs and, collectively, serve more than 16,000 students.”

This announcement, a slight surprise, came following initial discussion that Edinboro could potentially integrate with Slippery Rock University. Preliminary data, though, “suggested that a two-university integration would not provide enough scale for what would be needed to ensure affordable higher education and to reach new markets,” said EU Vice President for Marketing and Communications Angela Burrows. Meanwhile, the collective press release stated, “three-school affiliations could hold greater promise, according to System officials, while honoring the local identity and traditional face-to-face programming of each institution.”

Kimberly Firestine is the Executive Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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