St. Thomas has selected the University Alliance division of Bisk Education Inc. in Tampa, Fla., to assist in developing and delivering online degree and certificate programs.

The university plans to launch its first online degree program, a Master of Arts in public safety and law enforcement leadership, in March 2013. Both programs are in the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling at St. Thomas. St. Thomas also expects to offer additional programs online from CELC, the School of Social Work, the School of Engineering and the Opus College of Business.

Bisk Education is a leader in developing and delivering online degree and professional certificate programs for top-ranked regionally accredited universities. Bisk has helped nationally ranked universities expand their reach and advance their mission since 1996.

“St. Thomas selected Bisk Education as its online vendor of choice because of a mutual interest in offering rigorous academic programs online for graduate students,” said Dr. Sue Huber, executive vice president and chief academic officer at the university.

Huber said Dr. Mary Reichardt, who has taught at St. Thomas since 1988 in both the English and Catholic Studies departments, will serve as the university’s new full-time director of online education and will be the liaison to the Bisk project. Among her other accomplishments, Reichardt has published 13 books on literature and was the founding director of the Master of Arts in Catholic Studies program. In 2008, she received a John Ireland Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Teacher/Scholar.

Online programs will follow the same comprehensive curriculum requirements in other St. Thomas programs, and students will receive the same diplomas. Bisk’s state-of-the-art, video-based e-learning platform will bring these programs to professionals across the country who need the convenience of online education.

Bisk’s unique value proposition focuses on six areas – or principles of excellence – that ensure the development and execution of online programs that help universities increase enrollments while maintaining their academic standards and traditions. Bisk provides universities with a comprehensive suite of services based on these six principles of excellence and continuously develops and enhances each online program to meet best practices and support student retention.

St. Thomas faculty will develop and provide all course content, and St. Thomas will retain the sole right to hire and dismiss faculty, Huber said. The university also will have complete control over admissions, tuition rates, academic records, copyrights and intellectual property rights in course content.

“We’re proud to be selected by such a highly respected institution as St. Thomas,” said Nathan Bisk, who founded the company in 1971 and serves as its chairman. “We are committed to delivering St. Thomas’ rich tradition and academic excellence to students anytime, anywhere online, enabling them to reach their personal and professional goals. The addition of St. Thomas’ degree programs to Bisk’s University Alliance division brings diversity to the current graduate level offerings and provides that audience with new opportunities.”

Bisk’s university partners have surpassed 450,000 online enrollments – making the company’s University Alliance the largest facilitator of e-learning in the country. Partners include Villanova University, University of Notre Dame and its Mendoza College of Business, Florida Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, University of Florida, New England College, University of San Francisco, Jacksonville University, University of Vermont, University of Scranton, Dominican University and Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business.

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