The next generation of higher education is underway at Augusta University. Leaders of the college celebrated the official launch of Augusta University Online on September 19.
Dr. Brooks Keel, president of Augusta University, said it was just about a year ago that the idea of creating a virtual campus was approached.
“This was a monumental undertaking. And one that would certainly be key in helping Augusta University reach the aspirational goal of 16,000 students by the year 2030. Aspirational goals kind of says it all. I think it was never really intended for us to have a number that we had to hit, it was always intended to keep this university moving forward towards that number,” he said.
Keel said the final student census is still being prepared, but he anticipates it will be well over 10,000 by the fall semester.
Keel sees two advantages to the new online program. First, it will increase the student population without placing a strain on the existing campus infrastructures and staff. Second, it opens Augusta University to accept students from across the country.
Initially, Augusta University Online is offering three Masters level programs. The three programs are Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Information Security Management, and Master of Education in Instruction.
“One of the reasons is that they were already in existence. So, it gave us a chance to take tried and true courses that were popular among students,” Keel explained. “And we saw the vision that taking these classical classroom courses and expanding them to an online presence brought to them and their forces. So, that was a perfect storm of things coming together at the right time.”
Directing the online programs is Dr. Marc Austin, dean of Augusta University Online. He agreed with Dr. Keel’s assessment that getting up and running in one year is monumental.
“I think it allows us to showcase what the university has to offer to students that would probably never have come here, just because of the distance or their busy lives. And so, I feel incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. It was a sprint,” he said.
Austin anticipated this first year would attract about 60 students in the three programs.
“I can share that we’re over 100 students. In fact, we’re over 150 students. So, it’s a pretty huge, huge difference. And I’m excited about that number, to be honest with you,” he said.
Austin anticipates adding a Master of Public Administration sometime in the future.
Those new students will also add to Augusta University’s economic impact on the metro Augusta area and the state as a whole. A 2021 report from the University System of Georgia said Augusta University and AU Health pumped $2.24 billion into Georgia’s economy.
More information on AU Online is available at: https://www.augusta.edu/online/