Celebrating 25 Years of a Virtual MBA
While COVID-19 forced many institutions to shift to exclusively digital programming in 2020, Athabasca University was well ahead of the curve as the first Canadian university to specialize in distance education. In fact, in 2019, the university’s online Master of Business Administration degree program celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The world’s first online MBA program, Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business was launched in 1994 with just 65 students. The idea was to create a learning-centered curriculum that allowed students to continue working at their existing jobs and use real-life business problems from those jobs to inform course discussions.
Now, 27 years later, the MBA program boasts around 800 students per cohort and has more than 4,000 alumni across the globe.
Because of the range of graduates’ physical locations, when it came time for AU staff to plan the anniversary festivities, digital components were a must. “At AU, learners aren’t constrained by physical boundaries, and we wanted the anniversary celebration to reflect the program and its reach globally,” says Robyn O’Neill, communications officer. “We wanted everyone to have access to the celebration.”
With that in mind, O’Neill and her team landed on a dedicated microsite, firstonlinemba.ca, to complement an in-person gala and symposium. An additional component was the induction of 25 alumni and the three program founders into the inaugural Business Hall of Fame.
“The MBA alumni that we recognized were from a multitude of industries from varying backgrounds, and [they all] use their education to transform not only their lives but those in their communities,” says O’Neill.
About the author(s)
Caitlin Lukacs is the CASE manager of editorial content.
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