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B-CU Receives Grant to Provide Affordable Learning Solutions for Students and Faculty

merlot2California State University’s Multimedia Education Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT), in partnership with Tennessee State University, has selected Bethune-Cookman University as a sub-grant awardee for a $10,500 pilot grant that assists faculty and students both online and onsite with Open Education Resources (OER) Affordable Learning Solutions.

Arletha McSwain, Ph.D. and dean of B-CU Global Online and Professional Studies is serving as the principal investigator of the grant award funded by Hewlett-Packard and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support HBCUs through June 30, 2019.

This grant will assist three certified faculty: Louis Colombo, Ph.D.; Darryl Frazier, Ph.D. and Sara Krejci, Ph.D., in redesigning a course using open education resources. Two of these professors will co-present with Dean McSwain at the upcoming 2018 International Online Learning Consortium Innovate Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The conference will host more than 400 sessions promoting organic interactions and collaborative cross-disciplinary problem solving that undergird student success and satisfaction. The focus of this year's conference is innovate education.

“Bethune-Cookman University is pleased to have received this pilot grant designed to help faculty choose high-quality open source materials,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Helena Mariella Walrond, Ph.D. “Finding ways to help students financially, while ensuring academic excellence, is a win for any institution of higher learning. Congratulations to Dr. McSwain for securing this opportunity for B-CU.”

Increasing accessibility and affordability aligns with essential key performance indicators.

"We continue to be nationally recognized for our efforts in the world of online education,” said McSwain, “and I am especially proud of the overwhelming support and commitment that B-CU Global Online has received from the administration, academic deans, chairs, faculty and Title III and Sponsored Research  which builds on the work in OER that the College of Science Engineering and Mathematics already has in place. Collectively, we will be making great strides to increase the number of open educational resources that we make available to our students online and on campus.”

"I am proud to be a part of a team which seeks to find mechanisms to assist our students with the purchase of necessary resources. The expansion of the Global Online College and this additional funding will be a catalyst for excellence for the students in this population. This effort is a true example of serving and honoring the legacy of our founder," said Chelsea Washington, assistant vice president, Title III & Sponsored Research

B-CU Global Online is committed to faculty professional development and will be supporting this pilot project that assists additional certified faculty in redesigning 33 courses, including all of the general core courses and 15 courses for the new online graduate degree in Masters in Business Administration using open education resources, which will be available the Spring of 2019.

For more information, please contact Dr. Arletha McSwain, Dean of B-CU Global Online College and Professional Studies, 386-481-2094,


Now more than ever, it is imperative that academic leaders, faculty and administrators come together to ensure that pedagogies are progressive, organic and continually break ground. Advancing education innovation requires continuous visionary leadership from all disciplines. Here B-CU faculty members and Academic Deans  share feedback on the Open Education Resources pilot grant:

"I have been teaching online at Bethune-Cookman University since teaching online at Bethune-Cookman University became a ‘thing’, and I am excited to take part in this pilot program to help increase the affordability and accessibility of online education for our B-CU Global Online students.” -Louis Colombo, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Religion

“I look forward to participating in the grant to learn about redesigning graduate courses using OER that will support our graduate students.” -Darryl Frazier, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Leadership and Administrative Sciences

I am pleased that I was selected to present at the OLC Conference. As a marine biologist, I look forward to attending sessions that will provide me with innovative and engaging activities to include as I am redesigning my courses using open education resources.”  Sarah Krejci, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Science Engineering and Mathematics

“I am excited to hear about the pilot for use of Open Educational Resources in the general education courses. This idea has been explored for several years at B-CU, so I’m pleased to see it come to fruition. When students don’t have the resources to buy expensive textbooks, although they are enrolled in school and attending classes, they are essentially still locked out of learning.” – Hiram C. Powell, Dean, Dr. LaDoris McClaney School of Performing Arts and Communication.

“We are fortunate to have received a grant that has the potential to help us to identify improved cost-effective measures that will assist our students with the costs of attending college. I am excited that we are participating in this effort that will examine the effectiveness of teaching the seven general education courses that are offered online from programs in the College of Liberal Arts.” -Janice Allen-Kelsey, Ph.D., Dean College of Liberal Arts

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship, and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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