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Record number of OSU students graduate via online degree programs

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A record number of distance students will receive degrees from Oregon State University on June 11 after completing their coursework online through OSU Ecampus.

Ecampus will graduate 386 students Saturday, nearly twice as many as last year when 210 received their OSU diplomas. This year’s graduates span 40 states and six countries, including China, Germany and the Bahamas, evidence that the demand for online courses continues to rise at OSU.

“Ecampus is proud to play an integral role in providing access to an OSU education through our comprehensive online degree programs,” said Ecampus executive director Lisa Templeton. “We prove year after year that we can meet the educational needs of adult learners no matter where they are, and the class of 2011 is a testament to our success.”

The growth of Ecampus is a result of a wide-ranging and rigorous curriculum, giving students the same learning outcomes and high-quality degree as OSU’s on-campus learners. Kristine Gehring-Ohrablo, a student from Nebraska City, Neb., said her Master of Radiation Health Physics degree will give her a leg up on others in her industry.

“It’s a pretty rare degree to begin with, Ecampus had the most academically rigorous program, and it’s an accredited degree,” Gehring-Ohrablo said. “There was no difference in being an Ecampus student or an on-campus student. They didn’t cut corners so we could get it done. Having been through one on-campus master’s program before, I knew what I was looking for, and OSU provided it.”

A special reception will be held Saturday morning for the 46 Ecampus graduates who will travel to Corvallis for commencement. The reception will be held from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the Memorial Union, Room 109. OSU’s commencement ceremony will begin at 11:05 a.m. at Reser Stadium on campus.

Among the students traveling to OSU is Dirk Gard, a natural resources bachelor’s degree recipient who will graduate magna cum laude. Late last month, he received the prestigious Waldo-Cummings Award, given annually to 10 OSU seniors in recognition of academic excellence. Gard said that attaining a degree will enable him to pursue opportunities previously unavailable.

“I’ve already applied for a federal position at the Tongass National Forest in Alaska,” said Gard, 43, the operations manager at Duke Energy’s Campbell Wind Farm in Casper, Wyo. “That’s a job in the past I wouldn’t even have tried to get. Why bother, you know? I didn’t have the credentials.

“Now my wife just says, ‘If it looks good and you get it, let’s go.’ It’s a pretty amazing feeling.”