Unity College’s Distance Education program continues to flourish, recently hiring its first full-time graduate faculty member from within the ranks of the school’s residential campus. As a seasoned Wildlife Biology Professor with experience in both online and graduate-level teaching, Dr. Brent Bibles will bring a powerful skillset to current graduate programming as its first dedicated Distance Education Professor of Wildlife Biology.

“As we grow, Dr. Bibles’ hiring is a strong choice to continue our commitment to a minimum of 51 percent of our courses in the online program being taught by full-time Unity College employees,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “He adds substantial expertise, curricular integrity, and instructional quality to our programming.”

As part of his full-time responsibilities to the online programs, Dr. Bibles will help review, assess and guide the curriculum, and continue his wildlife research program. He will teach courses in the Master’s of Sustainable Natural Resource Management such as Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management, Quantitative Methods, and the program’s capstone courses.

“We are so excited to welcome Dr. Bibles to the Distance Education Team,” Unity College Chief Distance Education Officer Dr. Amy Arnett said. “His expertise in Wildlife Biology, his nationally-recognized scholarship and expertise — plus teaching experience — will provide invaluable support to the Master’s in Sustainable Natural Resource Management program. He has been a valued colleague at Unity College for many years. I always knew he would be a great addition to Distance Education if he wanted to make that career shift.”

Dr. Bibles arrived at Unity College in Fall 2011. He has been involved with natural resource management since youth, when his close associations with many mentors in the federal land management agencies led him into wildlife management as a profession. Dr. Bibles received his Bachelor’s in Fisheries and Wildlife from Utah State University in 1987, and went on to receive a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1992 and 1999 respectively.

An ornithologist with a particular interest in raptors, Dr. Bibles has worked with several threatened or endangered species throughout his lifetime, most recently Mexican Spotted Owls and black-footed ferrets. His research interests involve the influence of habitat selection and quality on population demographics, the conservation ecology of small populations, and use of methods to quantify demographic parameters with rare or hard to detect species.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Distance Education faculty at Unity, and look forward to the opportunities and challenges that the online format provides in creating rigorous, interactive, and personalized learning experiences for our students,” Dr. Bibles said. “Having worked on the development of the current degree program, I am happy to both expand my involvement in the implementation and growth of our offerings and work closely with the students as they pursue their graduate degrees.”

As part of its comprehensive distance education initiative, Unity College began to offer an M.S. in Professional Science degree in October of last year — the first graduate degree ever offered at America’s Environmental College, and the first degree it’s ever offered completely online. Unity’s online master’s programming offers 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. Students benefit from small classes, world-class teachers, and flexible class schedules, creating a dynamic and personalized learning community.

“Distance education is an integral part of Unity’s continued dedication to innovation and access for the 21st century student, independent of location,” President Khoury said. “The world needs more environmental leaders. It needs more Unity College graduates.”

Nine months into the launch of the brand new Master’s program, Dr. Arnett said Distance Education is rapidly progressing with about 25 dedicated students from all over the country, ranging between 24 to 65 years old. The first master’s graduates are currently on track to finish their degrees this upcoming fall.