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New alliance offers affordable online degrees

May 30, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

BATAVIA, N.Y. - Genesee Community College and State University of New York (SUNY) officials have announced a new online learning initiative featuring the best online distance learning resources from six of Western New York's community colleges.

The Online Western New York Learning Alliance (OWL) includes Corning, Erie, Finger Lakes, Genesee, Jamestown and Monroe Community Colleges which together offer 34 different associate degrees and certificates which can be earned 100 percent online.

The OWL network provides affordable, quality, fully online education opportunities with a prestigious SUNY degree upon completion. Online learning provides students the flexibility to manage jobs, family and multiple responsibilities while earning a degree. A unique resource provided by the OWL Alliance is a "concierge" who offers online students extensive support and helps them establish and achieve their individual goals. Each member college has a trained, designated OWL concierge who handles the questions and concerns of online students by facilitating enrollment, advisement and assisting with academic progress.

Students access the OWL Alliance through the OWL website,, to explore courses or degrees which most efficiently fit their academic interests, needs and schedule. Students are fully matriculated - enrolled - in one of the six OWL colleges, but can take online courses from the entire OWL network, seamlessly transferring and earning credits from more than one college. Upon completion of required coursework, students earn a degree from their "home" college.

Among the degrees and certificates students can pursue through the OWL Alliance are: Business Administration; Business Management; eCommerce; Entrepreneurship; Office Management; Sales and Customer Service; Criminal Justice; Economic Crime Investigation; Homeland Security; Computer Information Systems; GIS Software Application Specialty; General Studies; Human Services; Physical Education Studies; Sports and Tourism Studies; Tourism Management; Teacher Education; and Teacher Assistant. All online degrees from OWL colleges are transferable to other SUNY institutions toward a bachelor's degree.

The OWL Alliance is an example of the Power of SUNY in action. It exemplifies three of the six "big ideas" from the 2010 SUNY Strategic Plan - - including establishing a seamless education pipeline, promoting entrepreneurship and developing dynamic connections to the world.

"This is fantastic news for Western New Yorkers seeking a college degree while also managing responsibilities at home and on the job," SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said. "By making 100 percent of the required coursework available online, the OWL alliance makes a SUNY degree more accessible and attainable for many students, and contributes to degree completion, some of our primary objectives as providers of public higher education. Congratulations to each of the campuses involved in the OWL alliance."

The OWL Alliance focuses the online expertise and cooperative interests of six SUNY community colleges to benefit students both near and far, with particular advantages for students who need flexibility in their academic schedule - and affordable tuition - in tough economic times.

"Not only does OWL enable working adults with tight schedules to complete their degree in a timely fashion, but we believe this will lead to other dynamic, cooperative opportunities," Bob Knipe, Dean of Learning Technologies at Genesee, said. "We've all been offering online degrees for some time, but this is the first time a group of SUNY colleges have collaborated in a way that really opens new doors for those who need to work toward a quality, fully online and affordable degree."

The founding OWL Alliance colleges are: Corning; Erie; Finger Lakes; Genesee; Jamestown; and Monroe Community Colleges. All are fully accredited by the Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools, and fully authorized by the New York State Education Department and SUNY to offer online degrees in the specified areas.

For more information about the OWL Alliance, go to or call eLearning at Genesee Community College, (585) 345-6969.



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