UMass Lowell’s online programs get high marks in national ranking - Lowell Sun

UMass Lowell’s online programs get high marks in national ranking - Lowell Sun UMass Lowell’s online programs get high marks in national ranking - Lowell Sun Posted: 31 Jan 2021 12:00 AM PST LOWELL — UMass Lowell's online education programs are again ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, which assessed more than 1,000 programs nationwide. UMass Lowell's online graduate program in criminal justice is No. 4 in the nation and No. 2 among all public colleges and universities, and offers the lowest price among New England-based programs appearing in the new ranking. UMass Lowell's online graduate program in information technology is No. 16 in the nation and is the highest ranked among all public institutions in New England. UMass Lowell's online graduate programs in education are ranked No. 23 nationally and the highest among New England colleges and universities. UMass Lowell offers multiple opt

Ouachita honors 309 graduates during 133rd commencement - Ouachita Baptist University News

Ouachita honors 309 graduates during 133rd commencement - Ouachita Baptist University News

Ouachita honors 309 graduates during 133rd commencement - Ouachita Baptist University News

Posted: 09 Dec 2020 06:55 AM PST

Ouachita Baptist University celebrated 309 graduates from the classes of 2019 and 2020 during its 133nd commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 5. The ceremony, which was rescheduled from its original date in May due to COVID-19, was held outdoors at Cliff Harris Stadium on Ouachita's campus and followed Arkansas Department of Health protocols for guest and graduate safety.

University officials conferred Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. Dr. Ben Sells, Ouachita president, presided over the commencement exercises.

"Many of the graduates and their family members are in person, while other grads and their families needed to participate online. To our graduates in-person and online, this ceremony is about you and celebrating your Ouachita degree," Dr. Sells said as he opened the ceremony. "You're surrounded by people who helped make this day possible, people who believe in you and will continue to be for you, people who are eager to see all that God will do in and through you."

President Ben Sells  2020 graduate walking stage

Photos by Andy Henderson

In his commencement address, Dr. Sells began on a personal note.

"Lisa and I arrived at Ouachita in 2016 like many of you. We feel a special kinship with you because we began our Ouachita journey together," he said. "That kinship, however, isn't based just on the years we've spent together but on what we've lived through together – a pandemic of great enduring consequence.

"Ouachita is a university that makes paramount a love of God and a love of learning. We aspire to help prepare you to serve the purposes of God in your generation. Therefore, I believe it's important and timely that we reflect on this question: 'How then shall we live, both in the shadow of a pandemic and in the light of eternity?'"

Dr. Sells remarked on the university's shift from residential to remote learning in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, the efforts of faculty and staff to fulfill their commitment and calling to serve students, as well as the class of 2020's "resilience to finish in the face of adversity."

"I remember seniors departing from campus for the last time, some in tears, and some gathering for prayer in Berry Chapel," Sells said with emotion in his voice. "I remember how you prayed for me.

"Crises and adversity reveal character, and experiences may also illuminate a truth – truth that changes our heart, our habits and our hopes for our future – truth that also forges character," he continued. "It seems appropriate at this final moment of your Ouachita experience to consider the truths your Ouachita education has revealed to you and how those truths are changing your character for good."

Graduate with diploma Friends

Photo (left) by Abby Blankenship. Photo (right) by Andy Henderson.

Dr. Sells then charged the class of 2020 with advice given to him by a mentor, a mentor who had been given the same advice 50 years prior: "If you can't see very far ahead, go ahead as far as you can see."

"Maybe 20 years from now, when one of my own grandchildren might be graduating from college or making a difficult career decision, they might ask me for some advice," he said. "I'll likely use the moment to tell them about you and how we found our way forward together in the spring of 2020."

"Every graduating class deserves heartfelt congratulations," Sells said as he closed. "But this year, we feel it deeper when we say to you, 'Congratulations; well done!'"

Class of 2020Photo by Andy Henderson  

Senior Class President Maggie Donnell, a social justice studies and psychology double major from Rogers, Ark., led the commencement invocation. The university's vision and mission statements were read by Lori Motl, director of admissions counseling, and Rickey Rogers, dean of students. Scripture reading was led by the top graduate from the Pruet School of Christian Studies, Seigen Nichols, a Christian studies/Christian ministry and business administration/entrepreneurship double major from Forest Hill, La. Dr. Kathy Collins, chair of the Department of Education, and Jim Rothwell, assistant dean of the Hickingbotham School of Business, served as commencement marshals.

The recognized graduates featured 167 honor graduates, including 32 who graduated summa cum laude with a grade point average of 3.95 or higher, with 16 of those graduating with a 4.0 GPA; 71 who graduated magna cum laude (3.75 GPA); and 61 who graduated cum laude (3.5 GPA). University officials also recognized 32 graduates who completed Ouachita's Carl Goodson Honors Program.

Additionally, students who attended Ouachita from Fall 2016 to Spring 2020 represent the highest four-year graduation rate on record for the university at 60.5%, well surpassing the most recent state average of 32% published by the National Center for Education Statistics.

View the names of May 2020, August 2020, December 2019 and August 2019 graduates recognized on Dec. 5 here. Watch the full commencement video at and visit to view the senior slideshow. See Dr. Sells' full commencement address here.

Ouachita Baptist University, a leading liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, Ark., is in its 134th year as a Christ-centered learning community. It is ranked the No. 2 Regional College in the South by U.S. News & World Report. The university has an average student/faculty ratio of 13:1 and has a 99% career outcomes rate for its graduates. Its seven academic schools include business, Christian studies, education, fine arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. For more information about Ouachita, visit or call 800-DIAL-OBU.

Lead photo: Ouachita graduates sit six feet apart during the university's 133rd Commencement ceremony held at Cliff Harris Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 5. Due to the original May 2020 Commencement being postponed to December because of the pandemic, Ouachita honored 309 graduates from the classes of 2019 and 2020. Photo by Abby Blankenship. 

Former First Presbyterian Music Director Kelly Stultz Takes Position With Erskine Theological Seminary - The Chattanoogan

Posted: 09 Dec 2020 03:22 PM PST

Seminaries once prepared pastors and other church leaders in sacred music: a special genre of music that exists for the glory of God. Now, Erskine Theological Seminary is going "back to the future" to emphasize the rightful place of sacred music in the worship and liturgy of the Church. Erskine announce the appointment of Kelly Stultz as Erskine Theological Seminary's Research Professor of Sacred Music.

Ms. Stultz formerly was the choir director at First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga.

Professor Stultz will design and teach courses that will equip Christian shepherds in the historic place of sacred music within their services of divine worship. In addition, she will be helping pastors and directors of music work together for the spiritual nourishment of the congregation.

The Provost of Erskine Theological Seminary, Dr. Michael A. Milton, commented, "The appointment of Professor Kelly Stultz as Erskine Theological Seminary's Research Professor of Sacred Music is a milestone - not only in Erskine Seminary's history - but in evangelical, Reformed, and Presbyterian theological education.

He said, "For too long, those seeking excellence in sacred music higher education had to attend seminaries or graduate music programs outside of the conservative churches. Moreover, contemporary styles, based more on theater, and popular media influences, have predominated. Now, our students - from masters to doctoral - will be trained in the essentials of sacred music - hymnody, a theology of music, music in liturgy, and the relation of pastor and director of music. Professor Stultz is one of the nation's finest directors of music, and is an equally distinguished educator.

"I am so thankful to God that she accepted the call. The Church in North America - and through Erskine Online - will be strengthened by her remarkable presence and influence."

Professor Stultz is a graduate of Bob Jones University and Bryan College and has served in several senior level music directorships, along with private tutoring. An alumnus of Music Explosion at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., she has served as the director of music for nearly two decades, including at the historic First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga.

The daughter of music professors, Drs. David and Sigrid Luther, Professor Kelly has performed at numerous concerts, including appearances at the White House for the President of the United States. She and husband, Andy, also a teacher, make their home in the Chattanooga area.

Musical drama ‘Mencari Siti’ searches for young, talented Indonesian artists - The Jakarta Post - Jakarta Post

Posted: 10 Dec 2020 01:40 AM PST

Indonesian culture information portal Indonesia Kaya has teamed up with renowned filmmaker Garin Nugroho to find young, talented Indonesian artists for online musical series Mencari Siti (Searching for Siti).

Scheduled to be produced in 2021, Mencari Siti is being adapted from the classic novel Siti Nurbaya by Marah Rusli. To be helmed by Garin, the musical drama will combine theater, technology, dance and vocals.

The online audition for Mencari Siti is open until Dec. 31 for people aged 18 to 35 who are able to act, sing and dance. After filling out a registration form online, applicants are required to record two audition songs, with one of them being the song for their desired character, namely Siti Nurbaya, Datuk Maringgih or Samsul Bahri. The songs are available on Indonesia Kaya's Instagram account. Contestants are expected to upload their video in a single post, tag Indonesia Kaya and include the hashtag #MencariSiti.

Indonesia Kaya program director Renitasari Adrian said a training program to develop the performing arts with Garin was launched in 2015, dubbed Ruang Kreatif Seni Pertunjukan Indonesia (Indonesian Performing Arts Creative Space).

"Now we're looking for young Indonesian talents for Mencari Siti, which is also part of the online program talent scouting. They'll be involved in the musical drama, which will air virtually," Renitasari said in a statement.

"This online program allows each individual to get the same opportunity to contribute to the performing arts scene in Indonesia."

Prior to Mencari Siti, Indonesia Kaya held Mencari Penulis (Searching for Writers) workshop, which saw the participation of 70 people out of 400 applicants from across Indonesia. On Nov. 25, the selected participants took part in an online master class with Garin and filmmaker Nia Dinata. They will also be involved in Mencari Siti.

Garin stated that the global performing arts industry, including the famed United States' Broadway, had piqued the interest Indonesians.

"We've always been close to dance and music [...] They are found in local performances in various regions," he said.

"Indonesia also has amazing works from its writers. It has inspired me to adapt this literary work by involving a group of writers following an open casting and enrich [the work] using musical elements.

"Through this program, we'd like to give a chance for the younger generation to stay productive amid the pandemic," he added.

In July, Indonesia Kaya organized virtual performance series #MusikalDiRumahAja to put a modern twist on Indonesian folk tales. The series garnered over 1.5 million views on YouTube.

"Mencari Siti program is our commitment to support the performing arts in Indonesia and scout young talents. Hopefully this program will receive a warm welcome," said Renitasari. (wir/wng)

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Rutgers deans comment on spring semester planning - RU Daily Targum

Posted: 09 Dec 2020 09:02 PM PST

With the semester coming to an end, individual schools within the University have finalized or are finalizing their plans for the Spring 2021 semester.

The Daily Targum previously reported Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy's University-wide email on Oct. 8 announcing plans for more in-person classes during the spring semester.

The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences will have approximately double the number of in-person classes it had this semester, said Thomas Leustek, the school's associate dean for Academic Administration and Assessment and professor in the Department of Plant Biology.

"The focus of many or most of the majors at (the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences) are science-based courses, and they require laboratories to really have the full experience in the course," he said.

Leustek said having mostly remote instruction for the fall semester created a backlog of laboratory courses that needed to be taught in-person. A key part of the school's core curriculum is experienced-based education and multiple laboratory courses are required to complete this learning goal, he said.

The Mason Gross School of the Arts also accounted for degree requirements that could not easily be satisfied via online courses, said Jason Geary, the school's dean. The Targum previously reported that the school is planning to offer in-person courses that fulfill essential degree requirements for film, dance, theatre and music in the spring semester.

Since Mason Gross students need hands-on experience with particular equipment and spaces, the school thought it was important to increase the number of in-person courses and the access to facilities, including practice rooms and studios, Geary said. Mason Gross is holding approximately triple the number of in-person courses next semester than it did for this semester.

"My hope is that students will continue to feel that they are getting the preparation they need to be successful professionals in a highly competitive and unpredictable field, and my own belief is that the innovative approaches to learning, both in-person and virtually, that have been put in place for the spring term will accomplish that goal," he said.

The School of Arts and Sciences has approved approximately 35 undergraduate courses and 26 graduate courses to meet in person for the spring semester, said Susan Lawrence, the school's vice dean for Undergraduate Education and an associate professor in the Department of Political Science. Nearly all of the courses involve laboratory research, senior theses or fieldwork.

"The (School of Arts and Sciences) Office of Undergraduate Education and our Teaching and Learning team routinely share best practices with faculty through multiple channels and we follow up when we (hear) concerns from students," she said. "We continue to provide one-on-one assistance, convene faculty learning communities and present workshops to support our faculty as they work to provide our students with a good experience during these unprecedented times"

Deans said their respective schools have specific teams or offices that communicate resources and best practices to faculty, as well as working with staff from Teaching and Learning with Technology and the Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research to continue improving remote instruction into the spring semester.

Staff in the School of Engineering have discussed alternative options to high-stakes online exams, such as quizzes and team projects, said Henrik Pedersen, associate dean of Lifelong Learning and Professional Education and professor in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.

"The use of ('Pass/No Credit' grading) is helpful in the immediate climate, but if we go into three semesters of that option, it may become problematic for students seeking to present a strong transcript for post-graduate employment and continuing education," he said.

The School of Engineering will not have any regularly scheduled in-person courses for the spring semester, though it will offer opportunities for students to utilize engineering spaces for laboratory and design courses, Pedersen said. Graduate courses with research training may also be held on campus, he said.

Leustek said the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences aims to have more uniform coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols, such as weekly testing and social distancing for in-person classes, as well as better coordination between in-person and online classes for students.

"Let's say that a student has an (in-person) class," he said. "And then immediately afterward, they're going to have to meet for a remote class, they won't have time to travel home after they leave their (in-person) class in order to attend their remote class. So where do the students go"?

To address this, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences is setting up rooms in various buildings where students can sit for a remote class after attending an in-person class, Leustek said. The school did not have a large number of online courses before the pandemic.

"There's a huge demand for online classes from our students, and sometimes even (in) a normal semester, students will prefer ... an online class," Leustek said. "So I'm thinking maybe this is an opportunity to provide better service to students. Perhaps if we can establish true online courses for some of these remotely taught classes."

Deans said their respective schools will offer both asynchronous and synchronous courses in the spring semester. Rutgers Business School, which will offer a limited number of in-person and hybrid courses, will have more synchronous courses than asynchronous courses, said Lei Lei, Rutgers Business School dean.

"While we leave it to the relevant faculty member and departments to determine the most effective format for teaching a given course, we tend to find that synchronous courses facilitate active engagement and interaction between students and faculty and provide valuable structure to a student's learning," she said.

The School of Communication and Information, which will continue to remain fully online, has encouraged asynchronous instruction to accommodate students with a poor WiFi connection or older technology, said Jonathan Potter, dean of the School of Communication and Information and distinguished professor in the Department of Communication.

"It is an adventure we are all on," he said. "It is scary at times, frustrating and often confusing. But we are in it together and, hopefully, next year or the year after we look back and marvel at all we have been through."


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