Happy 50th Birthday, Advanced Programs!

Jeopardy, the Ford Mustang, the Houston Astros and OU Outreach Advanced Programs…what do they have in common? They are all celebrating their golden anniversary this year. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Advanced Programs, which was the first distance education program of its kind to reach out to military personnel. In honor of this significant milestone, we asked several people to answer one simple question:

“What does 50 years of Advanced Programs represent to you?”

“The 50th anniversary of Advanced Programs brings to mind several things, but there are three that I would like to single out. 1) This program more than any other has helped to establish a strong base of support with the military. We have a 50-year track record of working with our nation’s military, and the military establishment has come to rely on OU Outreach as a highly qualified provider of graduate educational programs. 2) Another is the OU faculty members who travel within the States and overseas. Their teaching skills have been significantly enhanced as they engage with these adult learners; they become better professors and their interactions with lifelong learners have actually contributed positively to their research. 3) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the military service members we serve have been meaningfully transformed through the graduate education they receive thanks to Advanced Programs. As a result of this education, they have been equipped to be better officers, better leaders, better citizens, and better lifelong learners. As a continuing education administrator, I find it immensely gratifying to be involved in such a life-changing enterprise.” –Dr. James P. Pappas, vice president of Outreach and dean, College of Liberal Studies

“It represents a commitment to our nation’s military and our men and women in uniform.  We have nearly 9,000 service members and civilians who have earned a master’s degree through AP since its inception 50 years ago.” –Dr. Shad Satterthwaite, assistant vice president for University Outreach, Continuing Education Academic Programs

“I love the mission of Advanced Programs and the continuing educational opportunities we are giving to the military and adult learners around the world. My ultimate career goal, when I graduated with my master’s degree in adult and higher education, was to work for a university program that serves the needs of students with diverse backgrounds and that cultivates experiential learning. AP is an exact fit for the mold I was looking for. After meeting so many of the students, I feel a great pride in knowing that this program has been fulfilling and will continue to fulfill so many educational and career goals as well as creating a legacy for OU that is unlike any other for the next 50 years.” –Lauren Mullica, assistant director of AP North America

“Fifty years of Advanced Programs represents a long-standing tradition of how the opportunity of education, when made available and accessible, can improve the lives of willing and dedicated students.” –Sasha Ramdeen, assistant site director, Washington, D.C.

“That Advanced Programs has provided education to our military members for 50 years is an outstanding accomplishment and knowing that I have been associated with AP for more than one-fifth of its existence also fills me with a sense of pride. Additionally, our extensive history provides me a wonderful selling point with which to address prospective students. Few institutions can claim a legacy similar to OU’s and I am very proud of our continued commitment to providing educational services to our military community. Over the years, I have encountered several military and family members who have completed their graduate degrees through Advanced Programs and who attribute their ascent up the career ladder  to their OU education. Of course, our students grow in their careers based upon their own ambitions and work ethic. It is characteristic of Advanced Programs that we attract those kinds of students who are willing to work hard to earn graduate degrees from a university with the history and academic standards that OU has.” –Dr. Allen Canon, site director and training coordinator, Spangdahlem

“It represents to me 50 years of educating the world and a strong Sooner Nation, built on years and years of history and knowledge. It’s an awesome feeling to know that I have played a small role in AP history.” –Steve Watson, site director, Tinker AFB

“To me, it means that Advanced Programs has established itself as an educational stronghold within the military. We’ve been here 50 years and have graduated thousands of students. We provide a bridge between the home campus and our students worldwide. It is our mission to make them feel like they belong to OU and give them a reason to come to campus to complete that final bond. AP began as an experiment in educational format, but from that small step AP has become a recognized and respected educational provider to our military around the world.”- Tina McLerran, program specialist, OU AP

“For me it represents OU’s commitment to supporting our military members, their families, and DoD employees around the world in achieving their educational goals while serving our country.” –Debbie Bergman, faculty support services coordinator, OU AP

“I am proud to work for the University of Oklahoma and especially proud to work for Advanced Programs. Helping our students at home and abroad is very fulfilling. A few years ago, we had a phone call from a student who was hanging off the side of a building in Iraq and calling to check on issues with his account. We told him that he needn’t worry about any AP issues. We assured him that he could count on us to take care of it. If we can help to alleviate any concerns that our students might have, we’ve done our small part in helping those who face much greater issues.”-Carolyn Taylor, Advanced Programs site coordinator

“Fifty years of Advanced Programs represents a great deal to me. Personally, I have had the honor of being associated with Advanced Programs for 21 of its years, all of them spent in Europe in support of its contract with the three major military services: Army, Air Force and Navy. I was given the opportunity to earn a terminal degree with OU in organizational leadership and it has served me immensely. My time with Advanced Programs has seen our programs grow and shrink with the needs of the military, as it moved through periods of peacetime, war and peacekeeping. Professionally, although very much entwined with and hard to sometimes distinguish from my personal life, I have been given amazing opportunities for growth, management experience and travel to many intriguing places. For instance, in 1997, I went to Bosnia not long after the major conflicts in that region had ceased; in 2004 I was able to travel to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and observe things that most civilians don’t get to see firsthand. It was rewarding—and heart-breaking at the same time to see the post-war conditions with which people had to live. I have also had the immense pleasure of watching students in Advanced Programs graduate and hearing them speak about “What my OU degree means to me.” The student speaker portion of the recognition ceremonies we provide tells us all the stories of military men and women who are accomplishing something that would not have been possible for them had OU Advanced Programs not provided the opportunity for them to study overseas while serving their country. Many of these graduates are the first in their families ever to attend college, much less reach the goal of a master’s degree. When they speak of their humble beginnings and the pride they have in their accomplishments and the thanks they share with their families who stood behind and supported them, there is not a dry eye in the room! Advanced Programs has been more than a career for me; it’s really much more like a calling. I grew up in a military family; my father was a World War II veteran; my brother is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. Most importantly, the people at Advanced Programs worldwide, Outreach and the departments and colleges that provide academic programs are the reason for its continued existence and success and the reason I consider myself part of an extended caring family. The staff is dedicated to students, the military, the university, the nation and, most of all, to supporting each other in this most rewarding job of providing the best educational experience possible to those who are prepared to give their lives for ours.” –Dr. Peggy Lerner, director, OU Europe 

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