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Online Virginia Network: Our latest strategy to take education to the people

Old Dominion University began finding innovative ways to bring education to the people before most of us were even born.

In the early '50s, the school, still known as the two-year Division of the College of William and Mary, was among the first in Virginia to broadcast classes on a relatively new medium called television. In the '90s, the Teletechnet program provided on-site classes in rural areas across the commonwealth.

I'm proud to announce our newest initiative, the Online Virginia Network.

Our goal is simple: to allow any Virginian the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree. And our intent is to make it simple as well for students, who can take the courses online on a timetable that best suits their schedules.

Old Dominion launched the network in February in partnership with George Mason University and with the support of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly. It meshes well with the plan to expand the state's workforce to meet the growing need for skilled employees in high-demand fields.

Any resident of the commonwealth can enroll in the Online Virginia Network. We expect the program to be particularly attractive to time-starved working parents, as well as the 1.1 million Virginians who pursued but never finished a college degree. It also could prove popular with members of the military, most of whom have not received a bachelor's degree.

The online classes will provide the same level of quality as those that meet on our campus and will be taught by Old Dominion's distinguished faculty. We are offering more than 30 bachelor's programs in the network, including accounting, criminal justice, dental hygiene, nursing and special education. More details are at onlinevirginia.net.

We couldn't have launched this initiative without the strong leadership of Ellen Neufeldt, Old Dominion's vice president of student engagement and enrollment services, and the steadfast work of Elizabeth Kersey, who oversees local, state and federal governmental relations for the University.

To be sure, the campus experience will remain the focal point for Old Dominion. But online education is a tool we have embraced to reach more Virginians, and Old Dominion strives to be at the forefront of that mission.

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