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Online Courses Free for Katrina Victims

By Nancy McGillicuddy

East Carolina University is offering free online courses to students affected by Hurricane Katrina as part of a national relief campaign.

ECU, UNC-Greensboro and Appalachian State University are the three UNC system schools participating in a distance education hurricane relief endeavor called Sloan Semester. The Sloan Foundation, a private company dedicated to improving distance education initiatives in the United States, sponsors the program. The foundation donated $1 million to establish accelerated semesters in 160 universities nationwide in response to Hurricane Katrina. The semester runs Oct. 10 through Dec. 10.

“We are giving students an opportunity to not lose a semester,” said Elmer Poe, associate vice chancellor for academic outreach at ECU.

The effort bears special significance for the ECU community considering the devastation Greenville experienced after Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Poe said.

“With us having gone through Floyd, we knew that many of our faculty members would be enthusiastic,” he said.

“This is a way they can give actual, hands-on help.”

Students will be able to take up to 15 hours at no cost, thanks to a resolution passed by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Tuition and student fees will be waived for students affected by hurricane-stricken universities who plan to attend UNC system schools. ECU plans to offer ten courses in all.

Poe notes that the strength of ECU’s distance education program allows the university to be in a unique position to offer aid.

“As the UNC school with the largest number of students and distance education programs, we certainly are well equipped – with classes, faculty and technology — to contribute to this effort,” he said.

ECU’s distance education enrollment for the fall 2005 semester is about 4,800.

The classes offered as Sloan Semesters are: Human Anatomy and Physiology, Cultural Anthropology, Composition, Intro to Communication, Media Literacy, Public Relations Theory/Survey, Intro to Computers, Organizational Behavior, Business Law and Finance and Managerial Accounting.

Additional outlets for assistance are available for students who take advantage of the option, including help lines and chat rooms.

ECU officials anticipated a Sloan Semester enrollment make-up that is very different from the university’s typical distance education student population.

“These students will be traditional college students. They are not able to attend class on their home campus because their campuses are not open,” Poe said.

Officials identified 12 universities affected by Hurricane Katrina. They are: Tulane University, The University of New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana, Delgado Community College, Southeastern University – New Orleans, Loyola University – New Orleans, William Carey College, Dillard University, Charity School of Nursing, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, University of Southern Mississippi and Our Lady of Holy Cross College.

East Carolina is one of about 160 colleges and universities throughout the United States taking part in the Sloan Semester.

2/2/06
This page originally appeared in the Oct. 14, 2005 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/archives.cfm.