MADISON — Michael Offerman, the founding leader of the University of Wisconsin System’s Learning Innovations Center, has been recruited as the new president of Capella University, the world’s largest online university, based in Minneapolis.
“Mike Offerman has been a tremendous leader in the online education field, both in Wisconsin and nationally, and this appointment is a recognition of that leadership role,” said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall, in making the announcement Wednesday, May 2. “Our Regents, Chancellors, faculty and students are grateful to him for that leadership.”
Lyall stressed that the university will continue to build on the strong base that Offerman has established at Learning Innovations, the university’s e-learning support organization. Established in 1997, LI specializes in custom courseware design, development and “e-learner services.”
In recent years, LI has established partnerships with the nation’s leading universities in the e-learning arena, including University of California campuses at Berkeley and Irvine, and the University of Washington.
“Mike has pioneered the establishment of online courses and degree programs in the UW System,” said Lyall. “Today, more than 100,000 UW students receive at least some of their instruction online and that number will grow, especially as we reach out to more returning adult students.”
“I am sorry to see Mike Offerman leave Wisconsin,” said UW Regent President Jay L. Smith. “The Regents appreciate all he has done to set LI on a dynamic growth path. And to stimulate the Regent’s thinking about how the university should best serve students in this arena. I wish him well and thank him for his contributions.”
Learning Innovations develops and supports online degree and certificate programs for UW System institutions. In addition, it provides services to other universities in the e-learning arena, including course design/development, training/deployment, and consultation.
Learning Innovations is a partnership between the UW System and UW-Extension, where Offerman also holds the title of dean of continuing education extension. UW-Extension Chancellor Kevin P. Reilly praised Offerman as a forward-looking and creative leader.
“His vision was central in establishing UW Learning Innovations, which has developed a national reputation for quality on-line higher education,” Reilly said. “The university is committed to attracting as Mike’s successor at Learning Innovations a leader who will strengthen this vital organization’s services to all the UW campuses, and through them expand access to students in Wisconsin and beyond.”
Offerman has a B.A. from the University of Iowa, a master’s from UW-Milwaukee and an Ed.D. from Northern Illinois University. In 1994, he came to UW-Extension as dean of continuing education, after holding positions at the University of Arizona and UW-Stevens Point. In 1997, he assumed leadership of the UW Learning Innovations unit.
Capella is considered the world’s leading e-learning institution, with 3,000 students from more than 30 countries enrolled in its online courses.
“I’m very proud of our accomplishments at LI,” said Offerman. “Our success has been made possible through the support and dedication of UW System President Lyall, Regent President Smith and the UW chancellors.
“While I’m moving on to another exciting opportunity, I am leaving behind a very strong team with a national reputation, and I expect great things from UW Learning Innovations.”