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For Immediate Release:
University Seal

Angelo Carfagna

Office of Public Relations
Fairleigh Dickinson University
1000 River Road
Mailstop H-DH3-15
Teaneck, NJ 07666
(201) 692-7032

285 Madison Avenue
Mailstop M-MS0-01
Madison, NJ 07940
(973) 443-8661

Distance Learning Grant

Pharmacia Grant Awarded for Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Unique Distance Learning Initiative

Madison, NJ (June 17, 2002) — The Pharmacia Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to Fairleigh Dickinson University to support its groundbreaking distance-learning initiative.

"Fairleigh Dickinson University has taken a bold step combining educational technology with a global vision," said Erica Ferry, Executive Director of the Pharmacia Foundation. "Its unique distance-learning initiative will be a model for others around the country. We are delighted to support this trailblazing effort and we look forward to a partnership that provides students with the tools needed for success in the global economy."

In a program that began last fall, Fairleigh Dickinson University has become the first traditional university to require all undergraduate students to take online courses (one course required for every 32 credits). "We believe the Internet is a fundamental learning, research, communication and collaboration tool, and students need to become proficient in its use," said Michael Sperling, Associate Provost for Interdisciplinary, Distributed and Global Learning. "For example, students need to learn how to engage in threaded discussions and organize team projects online, as well as use the Internet for research. This is part of the skills set that an educated person in the 21st century must have."

Perhaps the most innovative part of the distance-learning initiative is the introduction of Global Virtual Faculty, professionals and experts from around the world. Working under the coordination of on-site faculty, the primary role of Global Virtual Faculty is to introduce students to diverse perspectives. "While most universities view online learning as a vehicle to bring their programs to students throughout the world, our main motivation, as part of our mission to prepare global citizens, is to use distance learning to bring the world to our students," Sperling said.

A student studying international affairs might have on-line exchanges with a member of Parliament or a political columnist from India. A student in a macro-economics class might correspond with a finance executive at the World Bank in Brussels or an economist from the University of Moscow. The first required distance-learning course is the University Core class, The Global Challenge, which demonstrates the global dimensions of crucial contemporary issues. Over the next four to five years, FDU will expand the online course offerings to 80 to 90 courses, some common to all students, some specific to a discipline.

Pharmacia’s grant specifically will be allocated toward the development of online science courses that will begin to be offered this fall. The money also will be used to support the inclusion of Global Virtual Faculty in the science courses being developed.

"This grant helps us continue the momentum and provide more extensive online options for students," Sperling said. "We thank the Pharmacia Foundation and greatly appreciate its endorsement of our efforts."

One of the largest, independent institutions of higher education in New Jersey, FDU serves nearly 10,000 students and offers approximately 100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs, with campuses in Teaneck, N.J.; Madison, N.J.; and Wroxton, England. Dedicated to the preparation of world citizens through global education, the University presents global issues throughout its curriculum, provides programs in many countries and unique study-abroad experiences, and is home to more than 900 international students from more than 70 countries.

Contact: Angelo Carfagna 201-692-7025

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This release authored with FDU Pagetoaster.