UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Dean Brown will retire

Dr. Robert Brown will retire this summer after serving 10 years as dean of UNCG’s Division of Continual Learning (DCL).

Provost David H. Perrin said, “I am grateful to Dean Brown for all he has done to raise the level, profile and quality of online courses and programs at UNCG during his distinguished period of leadership. The many external awards earned and innovative programs launched, as well as the esteemed reputation DCL garnered within the UNC System’s online community, provide impressive evidence of Dean Brown’s outstanding contributions to UNCG.”

Brown will retire July 31, 2012. Dr. Jim Eddy, who is director of the Office of Academic Outreach and professor of Public Health Education in the School of Health and Human Sciences, will then serve as interim dean. Eddy’s two-year interim appointment is effective Aug. 1.

During Brown’s tenure as dean, UNCG has fostered a reputation for high-quality online programs and courses. ECON201, an economics course delivered as a video game, received a Gold Award from the U.S Distance Learning Association (USDLA). Platinum awards were awarded for Western Civilization 101 and 102; and a bronze award was presented for Political Science 105. An International E-Learning Association award was earned for Music 241.

DCL staff collaborated closely with faculty in the development of those courses.

There were no degree programs completely online when his tenure began, Brown recently noted. MALS – the master’s of arts in liberal studies program – was the first at UNCG to be totally online. Now, there are 25 online degree and certificate programs: 12 online degree programs, 13 online certificate programs.

Currently, about 40,000 student credit hours each year are in online courses.

Brown is particularly pleased with UNCG’s development of iSchool, which allowed many high school students in rural areas throughout the state online access to university courses for credit. In total, 27,000 high school students received UNCG credit through iSchool, he says.

He also notes that distance learning has grown every year during his tenure. Through the online courses and programs, many individuals have had access to education essential for furthering their career goals. He’s proud to have been a “chief advocate for online learning” at UNCG.

Over the past decade, Brown has played an integral role in the development of online learning at the state government level and with the UNC system.

Brown received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at the University of Houston, and his PhD in 17th century British Literature at Maryland, where he then served as assistant to the provost. He was an analyst for the investigative arm of the Congressional offices. A consultant. A textbook writer. Earlier in life he’d been a carpenter. A ranch hand. He worked at the docks to pay his way through school.

After his work as a consultant, he became a communications analyst for the RAND Corporation think-tank. Then, as English professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University, he saw how satellite hook-ups for Advanced Placement courses could change high school students’ lives. His life was changed as well.

“Our greatest resource here (at UNCG) is our faculty,” he said. Through online offerings, “We extend that resource to the community and the world.”

He quotes John Dewey: “Education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.” Online learning brings accessibility to education. Brown says, “I feel privileged to have contributed in some small way to that progress and reform.”

By Mike Harris

[Note: This updated post contains a correction to John Dewey’s name in the last paragraph.]