Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

Many thought and opinion leaders have recently called into question the cost and value of “traditional” residence-based education in general, and of liberal arts education in particular. At the same time, a number of widely publicized opportunities in what might best be termed “open educational resources” have emerged, including from large American research universities. In this context and amid the intense questions being raised nationally about both the cost and the effectiveness of higher education, it is essential that Bucknell understand the opportunities and threats that new paradigms for higher education might present to our University.

Many on campus have surely considered the changes that appear to be directly ahead of us. To begin a more formal discussion, we’ve appointed a task force on Integrating Open Educational Resources and Residential Learning. We have asked the task force to consider a variety of issues related to Bucknell’s determination to remain a leader in residential liberal arts education while exploring such questions as:

  • What are the most effective models of “hybrid” (open and residential) approaches for achieving Bucknell’s educational goals? 
  • What are our current practices in implementing such approaches? 
  • What barriers (e.g., policy, personnel, financial) on campus interfere with Bucknell’s implementing best practices in the emerging era of wide-scale open educational resources?

We have asked the task force to send us by April 1, 2013, a set of recommendations outlining the steps Bucknell might take to remain a leader in residential liberal arts education. These recommendations may suggest further analyses, possible pilot efforts, and other suggestions for effective responses to the challenges and opportunities generated by technology, costs, public perceptions and possible governmental interventions. They will be discussed as appropriate with faculty governance committees, our academic leadership, and other stakeholders, and will be only the first step in what will be, of necessity, a major effort to ensure that Bucknell is both adapting to new ideas emerging today and implementing approaches to our mission that capitalize on our strengths for the long term.

Co-chairing the task force are Professor Geoff Schneider, director of the Teaching and Learning Center, and Vice President for Library and Information Technology Param Bedi. The members are Professors Lynn Breyfogle, Katharyn Nottis, Ann Tlusty, Mike Toole and John Westbrook, and Vice President for Enrollment Management Bill Conley. We also have asked two students to serve on this task force and look forward to adding them to the membership.

Many believe that we are near an inflection point in American higher education. Our thanks to the task force members for the time and insight they are committing to this important endeavor.

Sincerely,

John Bravman
Mick Smyer

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