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OnlinePlus going strong, changing leadership

April 15, 2013
by Jim Beers

CSU's Division of Continuing Education, which has for more than four decades delivered distance education to students near and far, is in transition. Recently, DCE's online education initiatives were branded as OnlinePlus, and a significant change is once again underway.

Hunt Lambert to HarvardHunt Lambert

Associate Provost Hunt Lambert is leaving CSU to become the dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education at the end of April. He leaves a nationally-recognized organization that, because of his leadership, is stable and continuing to grow.

Jordan Fritts, current director of Program Operations and Information Technology, will become the interim associate provost. Fritts, who has over 13 years of experience in online and distance education, looks forward to continuing to support the University’s outreach mission by providing access to education for students who cannot or chose not to come to campus.

Quality online, distance learning

OnlinePlus will continue to offer high-quality online and distance graduate degree programs, undergraduate degree completion programs, and industry-focused certificates and training programs,” Fritts said. “Online students can, and should, expect the same quality education as they would receive if they attended our Fort Collins campus. In fact, all online faculty are hired by CSU departments and all online and distance degrees share the same regional accreditation as on-campus CSU degrees.”

10,000 students annually

OnlinePlus, which serves more than 10,000 students annually, utilizes multiple technologies to deliver courses and partners with Colleges and The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) to develop innovative online courses that effectively meet learning objectives for those obtaining their CSU education online.  

Lambert, who has been at CSU for 13 years and with OnlinePlus since 2009, says the recent growth in students enrolled through OnlinePlus is the result of a focused effort to create a positive customer experience for CSU’s online and distance learners by “nursing them through the process, coaching them and ultimately providing an enrollment funnel to the University.”  The strategic direction and day-to-day operations of OnlinePlus are guided by their customer experience statement: “Rooted in our land-grant heritage of outreach, research, and service, we support the advancement of our students' education. For our students, we cultivate, advocate, and empower.”

24 percent annual growthJordan Fritts

The result? OnlinePlus has taken off, with an average annual growth rate of 24 percent. Last year, the division returned more than $24 million to campus.


And why did it happen? In order to be part of the future, Lambert felt he needed to be a “disruptor,” to change the way distance learning was viewed.  “I came to OnlinePlus to create disruption; constructive disruption to the status quo in order to help build and develop an incredible opportunity for the University,” said Lambert.

“Hunt leaves CSU and OnlinePlus in a significantly and qualitatively different place than when he arrived,” said Lou Swanson, vice president for the Office of Engagement, which oversees OnlinePlus. “Hunt is a national leader in online education.  Harvard recognized his national prominence, and in doing so recognized CSU’s innovative leadership in providing distance degrees.  Hunt’s presence will be very much missed.”

OnlinePlus in 'great shape'

As for the future, Lambert is confident. “OnlinePlus is in great shape and continues to be an innovation engine.”  Lambert believes Fritts has a “passion for distance learning and delivering a quality product for its customers.”

A national search for the next associate provost will be underway soon. OnlinePlus is a division of the Office of Engagement.