New UMKC vice provost to focus on online/distance learning

UMKC says it has hired a national leader in online education to beef up teaching and learning in cyberspace.

The university has appointed Devon A. Cancilla, Ph.D. to the new post of Vice Provost for Online and Distance Learning.

Here’s more from UMKC:

Cancilla had been serving as Dean, Business and Informatics, at American Sentinel University, an all-online college in Colorado, since June 2011.  He previously served as Director, Scientific Technical Services at Western Washington University in Bellingham. There, he led the development of WWU’s Integrated Laboratory Network, a system allowing remote access to advanced scientific instrumentation for teaching and research activities. He also served as a tenured faculty member in the department of environmental science at WWU, teaching environmental chemistry and toxicology.

Cancilla will start August 1 at UMKC.

“I am excited at the opportunity to work with the deans and faculty at UMKC to develop a broad and deep online teaching and learning environment for the university,” Cancilla said. “The challenge on this frontier is not simply to make course content available online, but to maintain the same high standards for teaching and learning in cyberspace that you require in the physical classroom.”

Cancilla will report to Gail Hackett, Ph.D., Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost.

“We are delighted that Dr. Cancilla has accepted our offer. While his technical expertise is very strong, the quality we prize most about him is his collaborative approach,” Hackett said. “Our goal is to expand our online and distance learning offerings while maintaining the quality, academic standards and accountability that are critical to student success. That is going to require a team effort of faculty, program directors and deans who share a commitment to those standards.”

Prior to his academic career, Cancilla served as Head of Research and Methods at the National Laboratory for Environmental Testing, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, a division of Environment Canada. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Iowa, and his Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from UCLA. He won the 2012 Sloan Consortium John R. Bourne Outstanding Achievement Award in Online Education.

At UMKC, Cancilla will work closely with Hackett, deans and faculty to establish a vision and develop a strategic plan for offering an array of online and distance learning courses, then lead implementation of the plan. He is also charged with engaging professionally at the national level in the continuing evolution of the online teaching/learning environment.

“The people of UMKC demonstrate a strong commitment to student success, and that is what made working there so attractive to me,” Cancilla said. “They understand that this is not about technological bells and whistles; it’s about learning, and making the learning environment more accessible to more people. We’re going to be opening the academy doors to people who cannot reach us any other way; that’s where the excitement comes from.”

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