Dr. Lois Hamel is the new director of online nursing programs. A certified adult nurse practitioner, she has a doctorate in Adult Health Education from the University of Maine-Orono. Previously, she was the director of education and gerontological consultant for SBS, Inc., providing gerontological services in contracted nursing homes for behavioral care problems. She has been a nurse for 20 years and has taught for 10 years at several colleges, including the University of Southern Maine (pioneering some of their distance education health courses), the University of Vermont and Westbrook College.
Hamel is a recipient of the 2008 New England Educational Opportunity Association Achiever Award. The award is given to outstanding graduates of educational opportunity programs in New England.
As the new director of online theology programs, Dr. Daniel Sheridan brings to his role a rich career as teacher, scholar and administrator in higher education. For eight years, Dr. Sheridan was the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Saint Joseph's College, where he now is a theology professor on campus. Previously he held administrative positions and taught at Loyola University in New Orleans. Including his work at St. Augustine Church, New City, N.Y., as director of religious education, Dr. Sheridan has been a theology instructor for over 30 years.
"I believe that study of the range, depth, discipline, and vigor of Catholic theology, past and present, will deepen our students' faith and prepare them for a better-grounded and informed ministry," he says.
Twila Weiszbrod '01 recently took on the role of director of online health administration programs. An alumna who earned her B.S. in Health Care Administration and her Master of Public Administration at California State University at Fresno in 2004, she is completing her doctorate degree in business administration at Northcentral University. She has taught for the adult learning division for several years.
"My philosophy of online learning is that the student is a consumer of services, with significant life and professional experiences to be a partner in the process," says Weiszbrod. "Our instructors are coaches that encourage, guide and assist our students with learning and growing. The online format allows students to control the process, without losing any of the academic rigor found in traditional college courses."
As part of its ongoing commitment to quality online education for working professionals, the division was recently accepted into Quality MattersT, a program that establishes the national standard in online course quality assurance.
The Quality Matters program is a faculty-centered, peer review-based approach to improving quality in online courses. It supports the continuous quality improvement efforts of institutions by providing a sustainable, replicable, and scalable quality review process. The process is based on national standards of best practice for distance learning, review of literature on online courses, and sound instructional design principles. According to Paul Cochrane, director of course design and delivery for the division, "Quality Matters has been a valuable tool for us to bring discussions about quality into the course design process from the outset, and to help us support faculty in creating an engaging and productive online classroom."
Originally developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Quality Matters is now in its fourth year and represents nearly 100 institutions of higher education throughout the country. Saint Joseph's College was the first institution in Maine to use the Quality Matters program. The result is development of high-quality courses for the working adult learner.