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One University

Four Campuses

Annual Report 2015-2016

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Message from the Director

I am pleased to share with you the 2015-2016 annual report of the university-wide collaborative initiative in online education. The report reflects the activities of this past academic year and shares the impact on growth, collaboration and learning the partnership has had over the past five years. Since its launch in 2010, the University of Nebraska's (NU) effort in digital education has achieved many of the goals that drove the establishment of the initiative. We now offer more than double the number of online programs, have seen triple digit growth in student enrollment and more collaborative efforts between our campuses and faculty.

The strategic implementation of digital education throughout our curriculum provides opportunities to serve the state of Nebraska and attracts students throughout the world to NU. We can improve retention, persistence and time-to-degree by providing flexible, academically rigorous online offerings to our students. We can reach more students by offering high quality degrees to those who need and/or want to study at a distance from one of our campuses. Through our joint efforts, NU can truly be the best place to be a student.

Mary Niemiec

Associate Vice President for Digital Education
Director of University of Nebraska Online Worldwide

Mary Niemiec, Associate Vice President for Distance Education Director Mary Niemiec Signature

Created in 2009, the University of Nebraska Online Worldwide is the University of Nebraska’s central initiative aimed at providing greater access for more students to the high-quality courses and programs offered online by the four campuses of the university system.

Since the effort’s inception, digital education has become a collaborative strategy across the University of Nebraska (NU) fostering statewide and national awareness of NU online offerings and creating a platform for the sharing of innovations and best practices in online program development and course delivery.


University of Nebraska Online Worldwide created.

Board of Regents policy 5.7.6 repealed, granting tuition variance for distance education courses.


University of Nebraska Online Worldwide website goes live with 65 online degree and certificate programs.


University of Nebraska Online Worldwide fully operational.


Redesigned website and State Authorization Dashboard goes live.


113 fully online programs and 12 primarily online programs.

40% increase over five years in students who study at a distance.

Five Years of Growth

Through the collaborative initiative, NU Online Worldwide, the university is able to reach more resident and non-resident students. Online education provides students with flexibility and access. NU’s strong enrollment growth in online programs over the past five years is a testament to our faculty’s commitment to meeting student needs.

increase in students who study entirely at a distance.

increase in non-resident students studying entirely at a distance.

increase in resident students studying entirely at a distance.

increase in Nebraska undergraduates studying exclusively online.

"Growing enrollment in online programs is an essential strategy for our campuses, enabling more Nebraskans to earn their degrees and helping meet workforce demands."

Hank M. Bounds

7th President of the University of Nebraska

Hank M. Bounds, 7th President of the University of Nebraska
Laura Enomoto, Graduate

This program was the best academic decision of my life. From my very first interaction with Dr. Ellis to the rigor and depth of course offerings to the incredible faculty members; I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It made me who I am and allowed me to achieve my dreams. My goal ever since I started school was to teach at the collegiate level and now I am.

Laura Enomoto, Graduate

History, MA

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Access, Flexibility, Engagement

Access, Flexibility, Engagement

At the University of Nebraska, we’re committed to providing access to academically rigorous and high quality programs. Digital education pedagogies and technologies enable us to offer a University of Nebraska education to all of our students whether they’re on campus, in Nebraska, across the country or throughout the globe.

Working adults and other place bound students need flexibility and superior academic preparation to succeed in their careers. NU faculty who teach online have a steadfast devotion to student engagement, academic achievement and success. Our campuses offer programs that meet the needs of students in a competitive workforce environment. Our faculty provides students with the curriculum and challenges to help them meet their career and academic goals. At a time when a majority of well-paying jobs will require a college education, the University of Nebraska is committed to ensuring a college degree is available to all who seek it.

NU Online Student Profile


Average Age

(27 for undergraduate programs, 35 for graduate programs)


Graduate or Professional Program







Digital Education a Key Strategy for Student Success

At the University of Nebraska, digital education is a strategy for student success. We’ve seen significant growth in the number of students who choose to enroll in online courses - primarily because online courses provide the flexibility our busy students need. Whether students are enrolled in both face-to-face courses and online courses during a semester or studying entirely at a distance, this modality of instruction gives students the ability to address scheduling conflicts, work full or part-time, study abroad or participate in experiential learning opportunities without sacrificing time-to-degree.

Approximately 60% of NU’s 52,000+ student body took at least one online course during fall 2015.

7,181 Students Studied Entirely at a Distance


Students Studied Entirely at a Distance

4,750 Resident Students Studied Entirely at a Distance


Resident Students Studied Entirely at a Distance

2,431 Non-Resident Students Studied Entirely at a Distance


Non-Resident Students Studied Entirely at a Distance

Miguel Ortiz, Graduate

The University of Nebraska at Omaha understood my military lifestyle and offered the quality I needed to achieve my future goals. Knowing I wanted to continue my education after earning a bachelor’s degree, a top-notch education was very important to me. The Bachelor of General Studies program was flexible with my lifestyle and the program did not limit me to one area, I was able to get a really diverse education. My undergraduate education has prepared me for the challenges of law school and my future.

Miguel Ortiz, Graduate

Criminology & Criminal Justice, BGS

University of Nebraska at Omaha


Enrollment Growth

When NU Online Worldwide was established in 2009, the Board of Regents set distance education as part of the Strategic Framework for the University. The metric to determine meeting the strategic goal was a measurement of the increase in both Nebraska resident and nonresident students who study at a distance. Once again, this past year the goal has been met due to the collaborative and collective efforts of the campuses, faculty and staff of the University of Nebraska. Over 7,000 students who may not have been able to attend NU due to work, family or geographic restrictions enrolled in NU programs. The number of students studying entirely at a distance has increased significantly at each campus. Today, students who study at a distance comprise 10 percent of NU’s total headcount.

Online enrollments come from every state.

1 - 24
25 -49
50 - 99
100 - 499
500 - 5,000

NU surpasses peers in growth of students who study at a distance.

NU Surpasses Peers in Growth of Students Who Study at a Distance. (IPEDS), Fall 2015 (IPEDS), Fall 2015
Regents Peers
Public 4 Year

Choice and Opportunity

Collectively, UNK, UNL, UNMC and UNO offer 113 fully online and 12 primarily online programs, some of which represent many more areas of concentration, focus or specialization. This depth of academic offerings provides students with choice. Whether they are looking to complete a degree or earn a new one, students can select from numerous areas of study that NU offers online.

Lenee Lassiter, Graduate

I already had a master’s degree in education, but I was teaching students that were deaf or had hearing impairments at a residential school. I needed greater expertise to be a more effective teacher. I found a program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln that pushed me to be the best teacher I could be. I received personal attention and my adviser gave me insight that would really benefit me long term. Now I am in a new city working with mainstreamed deaf students, and I’m so glad I had an adviser and a program that prepared me and set me apart from other teachers at my school.

Lenee Lassiter, Graduate

Deaf Education, MA

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Collaborative Programs

The advantage to university-wide collaboration is the ability to capitalize on the exceptional faculty on all of our campuses. The efficiency of time, talent and resources is extraordinary. This advantage is optimized when campuses and departments partner to deliver online programming by sharing faculty expertise, campus infrastructure and instructional resources. NU currently offers five online programs only possible due to the collaborative efforts of two or more NU campuses. A sixth program will be launched within the year.

By working together, our campuses have the opportunity to bring high demand and innovative programs to students and leverage the combined academic strength of NU.

Program Development Grants

Each year NU Online Worldwide offers grants to support the strategic development and growth of distance education at the University. To date, nearly $1,250,000 has been invested in developing new programs and building the capacity of ones in high demand.

Commitment to Student Success

Faculty from the four campuses of the University of Nebraska discuss online programs and their commitment to student success.

Meeting the needs of nebraska

Online education at the University of Nebraska aligns with the institution’s goals of increasing access to quality education for more Nebraskans, meeting student needs and producing a highly skilled workforce. Soon, more than 70 percent of all jobs in Nebraska will require education beyond high school. As the state’s only public university, NU plays a significant role in supporting the economy of Nebraska by facilitating degree attainment in the state to meet the needs of our business community. Online programs provide the flexibility working adults demand to return to school and balance life commitments. This is especially important for the nearly 300,000 Nebraskans who have some college credit but have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, 4,750 Nebraskans studied at a distance.

Number of Students

Tanya Custer, MS R.T. (R)(T), Assistant Professor, College of Allied Health Professions

I think that the way that we teach at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the innovations that we have in the classroom, not only help the students that are here on campus, it helps students that are in our neighboring communities. We educate students across Nebraska to ensure their healthcare expertise not only reaches the Omaha and Lincoln area, but all throughout the state.

Tanya Custer, MS R.T. (R)(T), Assistant Professor

College of Allied Health Professions

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Transforming Lives Through Research & Innovation

Innovation in Pedagogy & Technology Symposium

NU Online Worldwide partners annually with University of Nebraska Information Technology (UNIT) to deliver a system-wide faculty and staff development opportunity, the Innovation in Pedagogy and Technology Symposium, which focuses on the use of technology to teach and support the academic mission. Each Symposium reaches more than 550 NU faculty, staff and IT professionals with plenary and extended workshop sessions by nationally-recognized speakers. Additionally, dozens of NU-led sessions highlight best practices in a variety of areas and provide opportunity for sharing across the system.

Campus Conversations

Extending the opportunity for professional development and networking to a year-long multi-campus effort, Campus Conversations covered key topics related to online learning. This effort includes an on-campus presentation and online webcast event, allowing NU faculty and staff access to a range of nationally-recognized presenters. Presentations are co-hosted with each campus and web-streamed live.

Partnering for Student Success

Whether partnering within the university – campus to campus or working with our state and community college partners – NU is committed to ensuring Nebraskans have clear pathways to earning a bachelor’s or graduate degree. Those pathways are not always the same and the road to success can vary for many of our students. That’s why NU is proud to work with its academic partners for the benefit of Nebraska and its residents.

College Credit for High School Students

The University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) works to contribute to the goals of the State’s P-16 initiative by providing options to increase Nebraska students’ college readiness and attendance as well as aid in the overall affordability of postsecondary education. In partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska High School offers online high school courses for college credit. With a focus on general education courses, students may earn credit equal to their first year of college, reducing their overall cost of post-secondary education through direct tuition cost savings and by ensuring a timely graduation.

Dual Enrollment Courses

  • • Psychology
  • • Sociology
  • • AP Comparative Government and Politics
  • • AP Environmental Science
  • • AP Calculus AB 1
  • • AP Calculus AB 2
  • • AP U.S. History 1
  • • AP U.S. History 2
  • • AP Computer Science

"This type of education, through UNHS is unparalleled in its rigor and breadth. It truly prepares students for college and to become life-long learners. It has allowed our children to travel and follow their dreams."

Jennifer Blair, UNHS parent since 2006

Serving Students and Educators

Across the University of Nebraska, we focus on building a better tomorrow. This commitment doesn’t stop, or start, at the collegiate level. The University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) has roots that run deep and a history of supporting schools and students throughout Nebraska and around the globe. More than 85 years ago, distance high school courses were originally created by the university for students in rural Nebraska. UNHS has remained dedicated to this history, serving 457 in-state students in 2015-2016. And 2016 marked 15 years of UNHS offering its courses online.

About UNHS

  • • Accredited by AdvancED & Nebraska Department of Education
  • • Recognized in Nebraska’s Rule 10
  • • Financially self-supporting through tuition dollars
  • • Offers more than 100 online courses
  • • NCAA-approved courses
Ingrid N., UNHS Student

"The courses are rigorous and similar to college-type courses. UNHS has better prepared me for college in that regard, more than any other program could have."

Ingrid N.

UNHS Student

Alexa G., UNHS Student

"UNHS has taught me how to learn independently and not always to rely on a teacher being there at that exact moment to help."

Alexa G.

UNHS Student

At Home...

In support of Nebraska schools, NU has provided the Nebraska Virtual Scholars program, which awards scholarships to school administrators to use for UNHS courses. The program aims to help schools solve issues they are facing and provide students with additional opportunities. Schools throughout Nebraska have used the scholarships to:

  • • Provide additional courses
  • • Create programs for high-achieving students by offering AP courses
  • • Accelerate students
  • • Address teacher shortages
  • • Solve scheduling conflicts and keep students on track to graduate

Since the program’s inception in 2011, Nebraska Virtual Scholars has served:

  • • 151 schools
  • • 271 students
  • • 47 Nebraska counties


Total Students


Nebraska Students


International Students


Course Enrollments

And Abroad

While serving Nebraskans is key to the University of Nebraska High School mission, UNHS impacts lives and extends the reach of the University of Nebraska around the world. Throughout 2015-2016, UNHS served students in 50 states and 97 countries.

Win With People

Win With People

A collaborative effort such as this is made possible only through the commitment of many people, each bringing a unique perspective and drive to make the university a better place for our students and the state. A university-wide committee appointed by the NU president provides insight, input and consultation to assure the strategy, direction and efforts of NU Online Worldwide align with the mission and goals of the NU campuses and University of Nebraska as a whole.

Steering Committee Members

Marie Barber*, Executive Director, Online & Distance Education

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

John Bartle, Dean, College of Public Affairs & Community Services, Professor, School of Public Administration

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Amy Goodburn, Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs & Interim Dean of Academic Services and Enrollment Management, Professor of English

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Jaci Lindburg*, Assistant Director Digital Learning, Academic Partnerships for Instruction

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Chris Marvin, Professor, Special Education & Communication Disorders

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Kendra Schmid, Associate Professor, College of Public Health

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Juliann Sebastian, Dean & Professor, College of Nursing

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Kenya Taylor, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs & Dean, Graduate Studies & Research

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Jan Tompkins*, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Assistant Professor, Health Services Administration Division, College of Allied Health Professions University of Nebraska Medical Center

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Gloria Vavricka*, Director of eCampus

University of Nebraska at Kearney

*Executive committee member and distance education director from each campus

Special thanks to Lanyce Keel, Kendra Schmid (UNMC) and Alice Schumaker for their service during AY 2015-2016.

Steering Committee Members

University of Nebraska Online Worldwide

Mary Niemiec, Associate Vice President for Digital Education & Director of University of Nebraska Online Worldwide

University of Nebraska High School

Barbara Shousha, Associate Director, University of Nebraska Online Worldwide & Director of University of Nebraska High School

More Information

NU faculty, staff and administrators are encouraged to attend the upcoming Innovation in Pedagogy and Technology Symposium on May 9, 2017

Connect with members

Full Report