Giving Thanks

by | November 23, 2009

As our national holiday of Thanksgiving draws near, I decided to forgo a blog dedicated to the intricacies of comprehensive exam and dissertation. It felt like a good time to pause to reflect on Capella and distance education in the year 2009.

Distance learning has been around for quite some time. I remember my neighbor taking a correspondence course in electronics from DeVry Institute back in the early 1960s. The school sent him weekly lessons, along with a basic toolkit and supplies for building radios, amplifiers, test equipment and other electronic devices. I took classes in the early 1980s in which some students participated via telephone or closed circuit television, although I drove to campus for these courses. Locally, our public television stations offered courses for credit at one time and state universities, with which I am quite familiar, continue to offer some continuing education courses conducted by mail. My first experience with the Internet came, however, in 1995 when I took a course called Computers in English in which we actually used the Internet to communicate with one other. The courseroom was synchronous and, frankly, very chaotic.

While I have only been employed at Capella for 3 1/2 years, I am very familiar with the school and its development over the past 16 years. All of us who work for and all of the learners who attend Capella have Steve Shank to thank for his vision and persistence. Along with Steve, we owe a debt of gratitude to the many dedicated faculty and staff who have contributed to shaping this great university along the way. I personally could not ask for a better group of colleagues, especially the doctoral advising team and the faculty and administration with whom we work. I genuinely appreciate the many support staff at Capella who are dedicated professionals and who give their all for our learners.

Most important, I am grateful for all of our wonderful learners who look to us for guidance and support. We all know how hard they strive to balance work, family and school while pursuing this, the highest level of graduate education. I am in awe of them for working into the wee hours and on weekends to produce the level of scholarship demanded of them. Despite the critiques they receive and the many iterations of their documents necessary to gain approval, I admire their tenacity. We all know the doctoral journey is long, tiring and exceedingly difficult. Yet, they troop on, knowing the reward is well worth the effort.

There is much to be thankful for this year, despite the economic hardships facing our citizens and the unrest throughout the world. Capella, its learners, its faculty and staff and administration are on the top of my list as I celebrate with my family here in Minneapolis.