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Western Oklahoma State College officials question allegations about 10-day courses

by Silas Allen Published: November 20, 2012

“We are committed to identifying safeguards that ensure the integrity of online curricula provided by the colleges we represent and to best protect the interests of the students our colleges serve,” Bumphus said.

Phil Birdine, president of the Altus-based community college, said Monday that he thought the Chronicle of Higher Education article mischaracterized the college's intention.

He also disputed the amount of revenue listed in the article, which he estimated is nearer to $500,000 a year, which covers the cost of operating the program.

“We have to keep the lights on,” Birdine said. “The technology has to be supported.”

In the past, the college has had no reason to monitor how many of its online students were student athletes at other schools, Birdine said, although officials may begin to look at that figure in the future.

Officials do monitor where students in its online accelerated programs come from, he said. The largest share of students live in Oklahoma, he said. Roughly 10 percent come from California, he said. He suspects those students are looking to programs in Oklahoma to avoid skyrocketing tuition costs in their home state.

Lisa Greenlee, the college's vice president for academic and student support services, said the 10-day courses generally include a written assignment and online discussion-based components.

Greenlee said she expects the commission will examine the quality and rigor of the 10-day intersession courses the college offers.

“If they showed up today, we could show them that,” she said. “We welcome (the commission) here at Western.”

by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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