Robert Morris University is expanding its degree programs for part-time and nontraditional students, planning to offer more programs online and looking into more locations where these students – many of them working adults -- will be able to take courses.
To oversee this effort, the university has hired Darcy Tannehill as its vice president for online and off-campus programs. In this newly created position, Tannehill will work with RMU’s five academic schools to increase the number of online courses and degree programs. Several entirely online degree programs are being rolled out this fall, including the MBA, master’s programs in business education and instructional leadership, and a bachelor’s program in applied psychology.
Tannehill also will seek out locations in addition to RMU’s Moon Township campus where the university can offer traditional courses that are convenient for the Pittsburgh region’s working adults.
Tannehill previously worked at RMU from 1990 to 2005, in positions that included enrollment management, student affairs, academic services, and continuing education. Most recently she was the president of the online campus of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
“Adult learners who need to balance the needs of their work and families while they complete their education require options in terms of location, delivery methods, and program availability,” said Tannehill. “RMU has had a long tradition of providing adult learners with options as well as the support required to complete their degree. We will now increase our focus on the need for multiple locations and introduce fully online degree programs at all educational levels.”
RMU’s new strategy for delivering education to nontraditional students dovetails with the university’s efforts, over the past two decades, to create a more vibrant living and learning experience for traditional undergraduate students at the university’s Moon campus.
To fund further improvements at the Moon campus, RMU will sell the building it owns at 600 Fifth Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh. The university has owned the building, known as the Pittsburgh Center, since 1959.
The Pittsburgh Center was RMU’s primary location for several years, but over time the focus of university life has shifted to the Moon campus – which opened in 1964 -- where the majority of RMU undergraduate students now earn their degrees and where many of them live. Ninety percent of undergraduate students take classes at Moon, and half of the others take courses online. Among graduate students, 62 percent take their coursework at Moon, with only 18 percent taking courses downtown.
“The Pittsburgh Center has served RMU well, and many of our alumni and faculty have fond memories there. The decision to sell the building was not easy,” said RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo. “But it is no longer adequate to our students’ needs, and we realized that the money required to update it would be better spent enhancing and expanding our academic programs.”
The listing and sale of the Pittsburgh Center is being handled by Mark Popovich of Holliday Fengolio Fowler. The sale of the building will not interfere with the ability of any students who take courses there to complete their degrees on schedule. The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, which is located in the Regional Enterprise Tower in downtown Pittsburgh, will be unaffected.
RMU has a long history of educating nontraditional students, many of whom are completing their degree or earning a second degree so they can advance in their chosen field. A new evening BSBA program in marketing will be offered beginning in the Fall of 2010.
Many of the 160 RMU students who are military veterans take courses part-time, and many favor online instruction. RMU has been seeking to boost its enrollment of veterans, who can study for free under the federal G.I. Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program.
Last year, the university commissioned the Aslanian Group, a top national market research firm for colleges and universities, to ascertain the needs of nontraditional students in the Pittsburgh region.
“Many of our part-time students work full-time and are raising families. They need as much flexibility as possible to complete their degree,” said RMU Provost David Jamison. “Some adults want to take courses near their homes. Others prefer a location close to their workplace, and some need to be able to take courses online. We want to give them these options.”
In addition to its bachelors programs and MBA degree, RMU offers 19 other graduate programs, all of which are tailored for working professionals. These include programs in engineering, nursing, education and information systems. RMU offers doctoral programs in nursing, information systems and communications, and instructional leadership
“These programs represent the continued transformation of Robert Morris University, which began as a school of accountancy and grew into a comprehensive university that attracts students from across the globe,” Dell’Omo said. “Through it all, we have remained committed to giving students a world-class professional education and contributing the region’s workforce.”