Duquesne says it will close a campus school, launch e-learning initiative

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Duquesne University today said it is closing its School of Leadership and Professional Advancement in August 2015 but will continue to offer degree and other programs currently housed there by shifting them to other parts of campus.

In a move the university said was separate but related, Duquesne plans to establish a campus-wide e-learning initiative intended to strengthen existing programs, broaden online offerings and create a more accessible online platform for undergraduates and graduates -- both traditional and non-traditional.

A national search will be conducted for a senior administrator to lead the effort, deemed a priority given the increased role of online education nationally, Duquesne Provost Tim Austin said.

What was originally called Duquesne’s Division of Continuing Education in the 1970s evolved into its “Saturday College” in fall term 1992 and later the School of Leadership and Professional Advancement, Mr. Austin said. The smallest of the university’s 10 schools, it enrolls the equivalent of 294 full-time students, down 28 percent from five years ago.

“I would guess a whole bunch of those students are in fact now enrolled in courses through our traditional schools like the school of business, the school of law and are taking them online or through evening courses,” Mr. Austin said. “I think they’re still here. They’re just in other schools.”

Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare said she could not comment on future duties of individual employees, including dean Dorothy Bassett. Ms. Fare said that since faculty still will be needed to teach the courses, and since a number of those faculty have teaching duties elsewhere on campus, a significant workforce reduction would not necessarily occur.

The provost told groups associated with the school that Duquesne’s commitment to non-traditional students “remains as strong as ever."

“Service to returning students, to members of the military, and to those seeking to strengthen their competitiveness in the workplace has been a key element of our Spiritan mission and will not be compromised,” he added.

Duquesne enrolls the equivalent of just under 9,200 full-time students.

Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.

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