December 16, 2018  

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Hattiesburg Mayor Barker Visits Southern Miss in Recognition of National Online Learning Day

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Hattiesburg mayor Toby Barker (left), recently visited with The University of Southern Mississippi to learn more about the online program. Barker is pictured with Director of the Office of Online Learning Dr. Tom Hutchinson (center), and Dr. Amy Miller (right), Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. (Photo by Tara Burcham)

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker visited The University of Southern Mississippi recently in recognition of National Online Learning Day. Celebrated in September, National Online Learning Day showcases how students of all ages are thriving with the ability to learn online - anywhere, anytime.

Additionally, National Online Learning day seeks to cultivate awareness of and support for the community of online learners. It also seeks to celebrate a future of innovative online education and greater access to higher education for more students.

Barker’s visit coincides with the City of Hattiesburg partnering with Southern Miss to offer up to six credit hours each semester to full-time sworn employees with the Hattiesburg Police Department and Hattiesburg Fire Department.

Mayor Barker was excited to visit Southern Miss to learn more about the online program. “Online learning has revolutionized the college experience and expanded access to higher education,” said Barker. “Universities that effectively harness this powerful tool are positioned for greater success, and I am excited to see Southern Miss be the state-wide leader on this platform.”

Dr. Amy Miller, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, says Mayor Barker’s visit allowed him to learn about the positive things happening in online learning at USM. “Online learning allows us to open the University to students who cannot physically come to campus,” said Miller. “At USM we are working hard to reach new online learners strategically. We use targeted recruitment methods to reach students who work second or third shift, are out of state, or even in another country.”

Miller also notes that the online programs at Southern Miss include students from around the globe. “We have students as far away as Germany and those actively serving in the military, as well as military spouses, who are able to reach their educational goals through our fully online degrees.”

Director of the Office of Online Learning, Dr. Tom Hutchinson, noted that Barker’s visit reinforces the work Southern Miss is doing to expand fully online offerings, while not compromising quality. “The University has made an effort to strategically expand fully online offerings so students who are unable to come to campus still have the option to join the Golden Eagle family,” said Hutchinson. “This is done based on priorities that focus on academic rigor and support through student success initiatives.”

To learn more about National Online Learning Day visit http://www.onlinelearningday.com/. To see what online programs are available at Southern Miss, visit https://online.usm.edu/.