Ex-UF provost returns to lead E-Campus


Published: Friday, September 6, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 6, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.

A former University of Florida provost and psychology professor who made a name for herself as vice chancellor of the State University of New York and as provost of Arizona State University is returning to Gainesville to run the state's first public online university.

Elizabeth “Betty” Phillips has been hired as executive director of UF's E-Campus, which will be the state's first fully online bachelor's degree program. As provost and executive vice president of ASU since 2006, Phillips was involved in the development of ASU's online program.

Phillips — whose last name was Capaldi prior to marrying UF Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Win Phillips — was selected by Provost Joe Glover from a number of finalists recommended by a university committee after conducting a nationwide search.

“She was a prime mover in the ASU online program,” said Andy McCollough, the associate provost for teaching and technology in charge of developing the online program. “This is not a new activity she is coming into. She comes with a lot of experience and excitement. She will hit the ground running, once she gets read into the peculiarities of what we are doing here.”

Phillips will be paid $285,000 her first year, said Steve Orlando, UF's senior director of media relations. Phillips' current annual salary at ASU is listed at $425,000.

Phillips is scheduled to start work on Jan. 1, the first day online classes are offered.

“This was the soonest she felt comfortable extricating herself from ASU without leaving them in the lurch,” McCollough said. “We knew when we were asking her to join us that she would need a period of time to work through the shifting of the responsibilities.”

Phillips will visit the UF campus next week, he said, and will come every three to four weeks to work on getting the online program ready, he said.

“Betty's key role in the creation of ASU Online and her considerable experience in university administration make her an ideal choice for the job of guiding UF's online degree programs,” UF President Bernie Machen said.

UF was tapped by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott to develop a full, four-year online degree program for the state. It has been given $10 million in startup money and $5 million a year for the next five years to develop five bachelor programs, with a Jan. 1 deadline to start offering courses.

The program last month submitted its comprehensive business plan to a state advisory board that is overseeing the project, and that plan will be presented to the Board of Governors later this month.

The university is looking at offering five degree programs initially — business administration, criminal justice, environmental management in agriculture and natural resources, health education and behavior, and sports management.

“Our expectation is we will go online with 40-45 courses,” McCollough said. “That is more than enough to cover the core education and lower division requirements.”

UF had a head start on development due to the success of its 2+2 program, which helps students with associate degrees from other institutions complete their degrees. The five degree programs initially being offered are among the more popular degrees in the 2+2 program.

“The reason we chose these five majors is we already had a number of courses online, and given the short timeline to get these up and running, they were the most feasible,” McCollough said.

The UF E-Campus will bear some similarities to ASU's online program but will not be modeled after it because its mission is different, McCollough said.

“Their mission is not as constrained as ours,” he said. “They don't recruit first-time-in-college students, and we will. They are not directed by the Legislature about the qualifications. They had more degree of freedom when they started. They had no constraints about who they could recruit and have rapidly developed an enrollment base.”

UF must follow criteria set by the Legislature in which students it can recruit. Students must have a 4.0 GPA and a cumulative SAT score of 1,800. E-Campus will be offered at 75 percent of the cost of regular classes, be taught by regular faculty and require that its students meet the same academic standards as the students who attend UF's campus.

The task of designing course programs will fall to three departments that produce online learning classes — Distance and Continuing Education, the College of Education, and the Center for Instructional Training and Technology. Between those three departments, UF currently offers 600-700 courses and has 7,000 students enrolled.

“We have the capabilities of providing the highest quality education,” McCollough said.

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