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OBU Revises LifeLong Learning Program

April 21, 2010

Oklahoma Baptist University's LifeLong Learning Program, which was introduced in the spring of 2009, will continue with new guidelines enacted for coming years. OBU trustees approved the policy changes on April 13.

The innovative educational benefit program for alumni will provide for up to five credit hours of free tuition per semester for OBU graduates who meet the revised guidelines. Alumni who qualify for admission will be eligible for the program two years after graduation from the University.

"The enhanced guidelines will ensure that this program remains viable for future generations of Bison alums," OBU President David Whitlock said.

OBU graduates who started study through the LifeLong Learning benefit during the 2009-10 academic year may continue in the program under the original guidelines as long as they are enrolled in consecutive fall and spring semesters. Alumni who enter the program in the fall of 2010 will do so under the new guidelines.

"OBU offers an outstanding education, and we want our graduates to know they are part of the University family after they complete their degrees," OBU Provost Stan Norman said. "The LifeLong Learning program is truly innovative. As is often the case with new programs, we found that after two semesters of existence, the program requirements needed further refinement. The changes we have enacted will allow the program to meet its intended objective."

Dr. Norman said when OBU administrators asked the University's trustees to approve the program in 2009, they sought to offer graduates a way to expand professional development or seek a second bachelor's degree by utilizing available space in regular undergraduate classes.

Under the new policy, alumni will be able to enroll as LifeLong Learning students no earlier than two years following OBU graduation. The policy changes will limit qualifying graduates to a maximum of five semester hours per fall or spring term. Students in the program will be required to pay a $50 LifeLong Learning fee for each semester in which they are enrolled.

"After completing two enrollment periods during this academic year, we found that some of the policy guidelines did not achieve the intended outcome," Norman said. "OBU offers an educational product which has been recognized as an outstanding value. That value is linked to prudent fiscal management. This program has gone through a review and has been modified to assure effectiveness."

With the revisions, the University clarified how LifeLong Learning students can enroll for the educational benefit. Students in the program will be required to wait until the first day of classes to assure that space is available in a desired class. Graduates will not be able to pre-enroll for a course as a "regular" student, then opt for the LifeLong Learning benefit after being assured a seat in the course. University officials noted that all OBU nursing cohort groups are currently at capacity, which would prevent LifeLong Learning participants from pursuing nursing courses through the program.

"This program experienced some 'growing pains' in its first year, but OBU officials have worked diligently to make the LifeLong Learning benefit a reality for future graduates," said Bruce Perkins, OBU director of admissions. "It would have been easier to just back away from the program, but instead, our graduates will have a benefit which is truly unique."