Colleges and universities often embrace and cling to tradition, but two local schools are making changes that could propel them forward in the academic world and enhance their students’ learning experiences.

Renovations make way for new classrooms and technology

Perched on the top of a hill on the Cincinnati Christian University campus, Rine Hall is undergoing a facelift. The 60-year-old building is one of the oldest buildings on campus and has been under construction since September 2013. “The structural base of the building is pretty secure,” says Steve Carr, director of marketing at CCU. The renovations will focus particularly on the residence hall rooms that were on the upper floors, which haven’t been updated since the school added air conditioning units in the ‘90s, describes Carr. The end date is to be determined, happening either in fall 2014 or January 2015, depending on the funds that are raised.

Once the renovations are complete, Rine Hall will consist of four floors, with the bottom floor continuing to house the education program, the second floor becoming the new home of the newly consolidated business school and the top two designated as female residence halls.

The education and business floors will boast refurbished classrooms and offices more conducive to the fast-paced world of today with features like SMART boards and Adobe Connect. For the first time since its creation eight years ago, the school of business will finally be located in one area. “Our business degree is becoming incredibly popular,” says Carr as he explains why the young program needs its own home versus scattered offices and classrooms around campus.

Online-only degree making its way to Thomas More

Thomas More College in Kentucky is going digital with its first online program. The school has offered an on-site MBA program for years, but it’s now altering that program to fit an online profile. “Some of the feedback that we’ve been getting lately is that people want our program online,” says Dr. Brad Bielski, vice president of academic affairs. The program will feature a plethora of online learning techniques including videos, blog posts and online reading that will allow less conventional students a chance at a higher degree in their own timeframe.

The program will kick off in late spring or early summer, whenever Thomas More can generate enough interest and get a pool of applicants. Students enrolled in this program will be able to finish in just under two years, as the slightly revised curriculum consists of fewer credit hours than the traditional MBA program, which in turn reduces tuition rates.

Bielski says that he hopes to see a wider range of students enrolled in this program, from people working full-time to people that live nowhere near the college but want to take advantage of its education system. The applications are already beginning to come in from students interested in participating in the pilot group.

The faculty that teaches the original MBA program will also be the ones covering the online courses. Most are already comfortable working with online tools, but for those who aren’t as technologically savvy, Thomas More is offering a crash course. “It’s called ELearning101,” says Bielski. “[The faculty] learns about the principles of online learning.”

This is just the beginning for Thomas More. “We are looking for other online programs, too,” says Bielski who hopes to see nursing and communications degrees online in the near future.