UA Trustees Establish Online University

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approved Thursday the creation of an online university meant to target adult students.

The approved plan, developed by UA System President Donald Bobbitt and his staff, establishes the University of Arkansas eVersity, and authorizes the system administration to plan for academic governance of the institution through a group of existing UA System institutions.

"The University of Arkansas System has a rich portfolio of talent that resides in the faculty and staff of our 17 institutions and divisions," Bobbitt said in a news release. "I'm confident that we will, and in fact, must, bring this array of talent to bear on Governor [Mike] Beebe's challenge to double the number of Arkansans with a post-high-school credential."

With eVersity, UA hopes to tap into a group of adult learners that now turn to for-profit online institutions for their education. According to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, more than 80 out-of-state institutions, including several for-profits, offer degree programs in Arkansas.

"For many students, the optimum experience is to learn intensively under the mentorship of the exceptional faculty we have at each institution," Bobbitt said. "However, for those students for which that is not possible, the eVersity will provide a much needed option."

The university said the core principles of the online university include providing high quality courses, affordable tuition and workforce relevant degree programs. Initial degree programs are scheduled to be offered by fall 2015 in partnership with UA System campuses while eVersity seeks accreditation.

According to Michael Moore, the UA's vice president for academic affairs, the online university's planning phase for governance and academic programming will involve UA System faculty.

University officials hope the online university will complement the UA System's traditional institutions, some of which already offer online programs.