News Release

Tuition-Free Semester Now Underway at UMC

By Krista Lemos on
Thursday, November 3, 2005

Accounting major Letha Miller was getting ready to head to class Saturday, August 27, when she and her husband were told to evacuate New Orleans. Miller, a junior at Southern University, called the school, what she was told was to evacuate. So she and her husband got in the car, eventually ending up in Gonzales, LA. Though her family safely evacuated, her home was destroyed and her dreams were shattered. "To be honest with you, being in this online course is the only thing keeping me busy, I have been back home once, and it was horrible. Being able to take this online class is a wonderful opportunity," said Miller. She shares a computer with a friend so she is not online as much as she would like, but, despite the devastation, continuing her education gives her a sense of optimism for the future. 

Ms. Miller is continuing her studies through an innovative online program designed as an academic bridge. "My husband and children encouraged me to go back to school 3 years ago, once I returned I didn't want to stop.” The Sloan Semester allows students impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to continue their studies and return to their home institutions next term. The special 8-week accelerated semester offers a wide range of courses to serve the learning needs of students at the community college, university and graduate level, regardless of academic discipline and UMC is part of that consortium.

Offered by The Sloan Consortium, an international association of colleges and universities committed to quality online education, the Sloan Semester is now providing more than 1700 college students tuition-free online courses. The program is a collaboration with the Southern Regional Education Board and is funded by a $1.1 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “We are pleased to be part of this innovative initiative,” said UMC Chancellor Chuck Casey. “With our long tradition of excellence in technology enhanced learning and additional support from the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, it is a great way for us to make a positive difference in the lives of these students.” Twenty students are enrolled in six of UMC’s online classes. 

"With more than 150 institutions from major research universities to community colleges offering courses, Sloan Semester is demonstrating the quality, scope, and breadth of online learning in America," said Frank Mayadas, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "All courses carry degree credit from regionally accredited institutions, everything from Art History to Biostatistics."

"Sloan Semester allows our students to continue their education while experiencing online courses, many for the first time," said Elizabeth Barron, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Xavier University. "We are very grateful for the support and the opportunity."

Miller, now staying with friends in Baltimore, Maryland, said she just heard from her husband who returned to New Orleans near the French quarter that their home isn't livable. "Finding an insurance agent right now is impossible. My husband is sleeping in our car and is hoping to return to Maryland within the next week or so.” Speaking with UMC's Adult Learning staff today, Miller said, "You called to check on me, ironically, I was reading my textbook and preparing for an online quiz...thanks."

For more information on UMC’s Sloan Semester, please contact Michelle Christopherson atmchristo@umn.edu

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