The first cohort of Unity College graduate students began their sustainability science journey together in October.
As part of a new and comprehensive distance education initiative, Unity College now offers an M.S. in Professional Science degree online — the first graduate degree ever offered at America’s Environmental College, and the first degree it’s ever offered completely online.
The program, rolled out in June, was designed to answer the demand for advanced professional credentials in environmental sciences. The Unity College M.S. in Professional Science degree is the first of a series of distance education initiatives that will be introduced in the coming months and years.
Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said the degree offers an advanced version of Unity College’s unique sustainability science curriculum in an affordable, flexible format for professionals seeking to advance their careers while working full-time or at a distance from the residential campus in Maine.
“The master’s degree online is designed to meet the needs of a world that increasingly demands high-quality sustainability solutions, independent of location,” Khoury said. “We are committed to bringing our curriculum to those who seek it, in a way that meets their needs and the needs of the world around us.”
To implement the program, and to emphasize the school’s long-term commitment to quality distance education, Khoury created and staffed three new positions: a full-time executive-level Chief Distance Education Officer, a full-time executive-level Distance Education Dean of Curricular Integrity, and a full-time online Customer Service Concierge.
Unity’s first-ever Chief Distance Education Officer is Dr. Michelle Caminos, who Khoury said “brings a rich mix of online teaching and distance education program development success to this critical position.”
“I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting time at Unity College,” Caminos said. “Thoughtfully building distance education programs will allow us to serve an entirely new student demographic and further advance the college’s unique and critical mission.”
Caminos has held posts as Assistant Director and Lecturer for the Archer Center for Leadership Development at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and as Associate Dean at the School of Professional and Continuing Education at The Sage Colleges. Most recently, she was a fellow at the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the State University of New York at Albany.
The new Distance Education Dean of Curricular Integrity, who assumed the post July 1, is a familiar face.
In Dr. Amy Arnett, Khoury selected a veteran member of the Unity College faculty with a history of academic and administrative success. “Dr. Arnett will serve the institution very well as she works to ensure the curricular integrity of distance education efforts at Unity College,” he said.
“I am excited to help deliver and develop online programs that further support Unity’s unique mission and am dedicated to maintaining the engaging, active, rigorous, small-class size experience that Unity is known for,” Arnett said.
Arnett is a 2009 Fulbright Scholar and is a sought-after pedagogical expert on experiential learning in the natural sciences. As Distance Education Dean of Curriculum & Instruction, Arnett is the senior academic administrator of the Unity College distance education program, responsible for curriculum development and assessment, recruitment and oversight of faculty for the program, instructional budget, and course scheduling support for the Chief Distance Education Officer.
The online master’s degree is offered with two tracks: Sustainability Science and Sustainable Natural Resource Management.
Khoury said the school’s commitment to distance education is just beginning.
”We are a place-based educational institution, and our residential experience will always be the cornerstone of a Unity College education,” he said. “But we can no longer limit the benefits of a Unity education solely to the traditional residential experience. The world needs more Unity graduates, not fewer.”
For more information or to register for Unity College’s M.S. of Professional Science degrees, visit online.unity.edu.