Alamo Colleges expanding online presence

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Chancellor says leadership is the district’s online niche.

By Zachary-Taylor Wright

The board of trustees, chancellor and vice chancellors planned for the expansion of online courses to compensate for the lack of tuition revenue in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget at the special board meeting and budget retreat July 18 at Killen Center.

District 9 trustee Jim Rindfuss said the district needs to place more emphasis on expanding online courses, saying the district needs to figure out which college is going to offer online courses.

Chancellor Bruce Leslie clarified that the board decided to use each college’s strength to determine which online courses each college offered.

Leslie explained that he would propose the district establish a sixth Alamo College for online courses if this model failed in the future.

Rindfuss questioned if the use of multiple colleges to offer online courses interferes with the district’s accommodation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges’ recommendations.

Leslie said this model was not in violation of SACSCOC recommendations.

“That accommodates the SACSCOC issue around each (quote) ‘independent college’ being part of the team, being the consortium, that is offering these courses and programs,” Leslie said.

Leslie said the district sought advice from Dallas Community College District on how to expand online courses, saying the Alamo College District has more competition arising because the University of Texas at San Antonio is about to introduce its new online system.

Ric Baser, Northwest Vista College president, said the online courses provided by his college are based around the Dallas online model.

Leslie said the district needs a niche to compete with other schools’ online offerings.

“We need to have our strong position and our own strong niche,” Leslie said. “I, frankly, think that the potential for our niche is going to be around the leadership side of things and continuing to offer something that most colleges and universities don’t even think about.”

Leslie said the district has hired additional staff in instructional development and is looking to hire a new associate vice chancellor of Alamo Colleges Online.

In an interview with The Ranger July 24, Jo Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, said the new associate vice chancellor position has been advertised, and a screening committee is in the process of identifying candidates who are good options.

Fabianke said the associate vice chancellor position is more complex than the other online college positions in this city because none of the other schools are trying to serve five individual colleges at once.

Fabianke said a consulting firm might be used if the right candidate is not identified by the screening committee.

Fabianke said the district will also hire instructional designers at each college to work with faculty to ensure online students receive the same level of education as they would in-person.

Rindfuss said the revenue from online courses needs to be equally shared between the five colleges, saying that the majority of revenue from online courses goes to St. Philip’s College.

In an interview with The Ranger July 24, Fabianke said Rindfuss may have been mislead by St. Philip’s and this college’s website.

Rindfuss said the chancellor and the board need a way to determine how to equally distribute online course revenue among the colleges.

Fabianke said the colleges generate online tuition and contact hour reimbursement based on enrollment; she said the goal of the district is to increase the online enrollment at each college.

Fabianke said online enrollment through targeted marketing toward students who need to “stop-out” for a semester or students who want to solely take online courses.

Leslie said he and the vice chancellors will present back to the board once “everything is in place.”

Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the district plans to see long-term revenue growth in out-of-district revenue growth through efforts in online courses and international student enrollment, saying those avenues produce profit that will help increase revenue.



  1. So, as financial problems grow the first step the District takes is to increase the district personnel costs by creating another associate vice chancellor position (and all the probable support staff to go with it). In addition, we should take note that faculty positions are not being staffed with full-time faculty as a cost saving measure. We can probably staff at least 2 positions for the cost of one associate vice chancellor. In addition the directives of SACSCOC are crystal clear: each college is solely responsible for its catalog and the faculty are responsible for curriculum. This is clearly a curriculum decision. Hiring college content help for creating good quality online courses is a positive but it does not outweigh the continued glut of district budget demands and curriculum over reach.

  2. But what District REALLY wants is to create an “online college” under the Phoenix model where you have ONE FT professor assigned to a MOOC of 100+ students with BA/BSc level TAs. The professor of record will be assigned these massive sections that will largely be automated with the help of publishers (MGH/PEARSON/Cengage) and there is no real ‘learning’ taking place—-just multiple choice, canned courses. YAY for college… even MORE of a meat grinder and society is no better off.

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