Student making a difference on the DLC student advisory board

September 30, 2016
Susan Williams sits at her desk in her Michigan home, where she does coursework and runs her consulting and event planning businesses.

Online learning has been an important part of Susan Williams’ education, which puts her in a unique position to help the Distance Learning Center. Williams, an Master of Science in Project Management student, joined the DLC’s Student Advisory Board in January 2016, bringing with her eight years of distance education experience and the perspective of a veteran online learner.

After losing her job in 2007 because of the economy, Williams decided to go back to school in search of a new career. She received her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix, and her MBA from Baker University. While researching PhD programs, she came across programs for project management.

“Project management just stood out, like, ‘this is what you’re supposed to do,’” she said. “I knew from the description it would take all I had learned and give me a practical process for applying my knowledge to help others achieve their goals.” Williams chose UW-Platteville because it is consistently ranked in the top three online project management programs.

When she received an email looking for Student Advisory Board members, Williams thought it would be a great fit for her. Williams is not afraid to speak her mind during board meetings because she knows that giving her honest opinion could help improve DLC operations. “I want to find ways to make a difference, and I know the facilitators utilize what is said to them.”

DLC Director Dan Avenarius said he appreciates having Williams on the board. “Susan is always willing to express how she feels, and she provides good insight since she has experienced the models of three online universities,” he said. Avenarius facilitates the board meetings, which are held via conference call three times per year.

The students act as a sounding board when it comes to the implementation of concepts, ideas, and technology the department is considering or has already rolled out. Most recently, board members weighed in on the Student Help Desk’s extended hours, a new Student Admissions Flip Book, and ways to build a level of comfort between students and their advisors. “The Student Advisory Board allows us to get a small sampling of opinions without conducting surveys,” Avenarius said. “They give us their honest feedback, and that sometimes results in making changes to how we do things.”

If you would like to serve on this volunteer advisory board, or have any questions, please feel free to contact Dan Avenarius, Director, Distance Learning Center, at 800.362.5460 or avenarid@uwplatt.edu.

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