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Published: Wednesday, 8/14/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

GUEST COLUMNIST

Despite Ivy Bridge’s end, Tiffin U. maintains high-quality education

BY PAUL MARION
TIFFIN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
Marion Marion
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TIFFIN — For five years, Tiffin University has delivered high-quality associate’s degrees online through Ivy Bridge College. We are proud of the excellent education that students throughout the United States have received and the benefits that have been provided to them, their families, and society .

Most of these students are adults with busy lives, who may not be able to achieve a college education through the traditional format. Most students in our online associate’s degree programs are women with children. Many of them have jobs in addition to their family responsibilities.

Survey responses consistently have indicated a high level of satisfaction with Ivy Bridge’s state-of-the-art online courses and comprehensive student support services, including tutors, academic advisers, and success coaches.

Ivy Bridge students who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree may transfer to Tiffin or any other institution of higher education. More than 150 colleges and universities have signed agreements guaranteeing admission for students who earn a Tiffin associate’s degree through Ivy Bridge College.

Ivy Bridge began operating in 2008 as the result of a joint venture between the university and Altius Education Inc. Tiffin University is fully in control of all aspects of its academic programs and financial aid, registrar, bursar, academic tutoring, and library functions.

The joint venture handles marketing, student recruitment, technology support, success coaching, and other services.

In 2010, Tiffin’s accreditation was extended through 2020 by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The commission’s evaluation team offered these comments about Ivy Bridge:

● “It is evident that the university is embracing innovation and change with regard to online programs and Ivy Bridge entrepreneurial ventures.”

● “The concept of the Ivy Bridge partnership is an excellent strategic initiative. It addresses an underserved population through a strong curriculum, efficient and effective academic support, excellent instruction, and a very good online portal for program delivery.”

● “Ivy Bridge College delivers quality education to a relatively underserved population. Its staff support concept is innovative and well received by students.”

● “Tiffin’s Ivy Bridge partnership and its European alliances are clear examples of using external relationships to further the mission of the university.”

● “Team discussions with faculty indicated that they are dedicated professionals delivering a quality academic program. The faculty are committed to the concept and spirit of assessment of student learning and making ongoing curricular and pedagogical improvements.”

● “TU effectively utilizes alliances/​partnerships to develop and grow academic programs and to expand its local, national, and global presence. These alliances have been particularly effective in the success of the online associate’s degree programs.”

● “Students are generally satisfied with the concept, quality of faculty, and academic support.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded competitive grants of $100,000 to Tiffin University for Ivy Bridge College, and $300,000 to Altius Education, to support projects for “breakthrough” online and blended academic programs that “significantly improve postsecondary access, persistence, completion, and affordability, without compromising the quality of learning outcomes.”

Forbes magazine recently described Ivy Bridge as “dedicated to providing an affordable higher education option that boosted the transfer rate of two-year students to four-year institutions.”

A recent article on the Inside Higher Education Web site observed that “the partnership between Tiffin and Altius had received praise from some who called it an innovative way for a small college to increase its online reach without sacrificing quality”.

Higher Learning Commission policies have changed in recent years. Tiffin University was recently informed by commission officials that the business structure of our joint venture does not meet its current policies on partnerships.

As a result, the university has discontinued admitting new students to Ivy Bridge and will disengage from our partnership with Altius.

All students will be able to complete their associate’s degrees through Tiffin University or apply for admission as transfer students into our bachelor’s degree programs, which are offered in both traditional and online formats.

There will be no disruption for our students as they continue their college education. Tiffin University continues to be fully accredited, so credits earned by our students will continue to be fully transferable to other colleges and universities.

Tiffin University will continue to offer our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Associate’s degree programs will continue to be available to students on the Tiffin campus.

And we may decide in the future again to deliver associate’s degrees in the online format for new students.

Paul Marion is president of Tiffin University in Tiffin.



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