Getting to know … BU’s online Student Services Coordinators: The Sequel!

By Andrew Hinkell

Happy Fall 2 Launch! Over the course of the next 7 weeks you will have much interaction with our Student Services Coordinators. Two years ago we posted our first Student Services Spotlight. Since then we have seen many changes to our Student Services team. We asked each of the coordinators to respond to a brief questionnaire. We hope this will help give a face and personality to the name.


Emily Heffernan

Program: Art Education, Music Education

What was the last book you read? Eat & Run by Scott Jurek I highly recommend it!

Where did you go to college? Saint Michael’s College, Vermont. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Journalism with a minor in Art.

If you could travel to any place and time, where and when would you go? New Zealand, 2014 or to 1978 to see my parents get married.

The next 5 in my Netflix queue are… Django Unchained, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Forks Over Knives, Star Trek Into Darkness, and The Artist.

If you could create your own online course what would it be called? A Four Season Guide to Hiking in New England

You are an online student visiting campus for the first time. Where do you go for lunch? Campus Trolley, across from the BU East T stop. 

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Frances Houseman

I will most likely be browsing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit. Instagram

The first TV jingle that comes to mind. New England Telephone “We’re the one for you New England, New England Telephone.”

This holiday season I’m most looking forward to…doing some of my favorite winter activities with friends and family, like cross country skiing, hiking, and baking lots of cookies. 

Chase Crossno

Program: Social Work

What was the last book you read? For class: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. This is a book I wish everyone would read – possibly one of the most important books about human rights published in recent memory. For pleasure: John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.  Ummm, AWESOME!

Where did you go to college? The University of Texas at Austin – double majored in Theatre/Dance & Anthropology.

If you could travel to any place and time, where and when would you go? The moon – July 20, 1969.  I want to step out just before good ol’ Neil and steal one for the ladies – then moon dance.

The next 5 in my Netflix queue are… Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Un Amor, The Artist, Waste Land, and Lore.

If you could create your own online course what would it be called? Dance Magic

You are an online student visiting campus for the first time. Where do you go for lunch? Brown Sugar – followed by a visit to Distance Education!

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Medusa… (this may or may not be my Halloween costume this year…look out!)

I will most likely be browsing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit. Facebook

The first TV jingle that comes to mind. Can’t think of any due to the sweet crooning of Richard Hawley in my headphones, effectively clears out jingle sounds.

This holiday season I’m most looking forward to… a trip home to Austin, Texas and…food.  FOOD!

Lisa Knowles

Program: Management

What was the last book you read? Wine and War– great book about how WWII affected France’s Wine Industry and vice-versa.

Where did you go to college? Emmanuel College. Right down the street!

If you could travel to any place and time, where and when would you go? 19th Century Japan- such a vibrant culture and would be interested in seeing life before technology began to boom.

The next 5 in my Netflix queue are… Drive, Pi, Arrested Development, re-watching all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad (I miss it already!), and the next season of House of Cards.

If you could create your own online course what would it be called? The American Sunday: How to prepare a game day feast and still leave time to manage your fantasy football leagues

You are an online student visiting campus for the first time. Where do you go for lunch? Otto Pizza-right in the center of campus and great New England pizza.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Jo March from Little Women.

I will most likely be browsing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit. LinkedIn

The first TV jingle that comes to mind. The curse of being a New Englander- Bernie and Phyl’s furniture commercials

This holiday season I’m most looking forward to… baking and cooking for friends and family (and the office too)!

Jen Sullivan

Program: Computer Science, Graduate Taxation

What was the last book you read? I’m in the middle of Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke by Rob Sheffield.

Where did you go to college? I went to Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences for my undergrad degree in English. I also have my Master’s in Advertising from BU.

If you could travel to any place and time, where and when would you go? I would love to experience the Swinging 60s in London.

The top 5 most played tracks on my iTunes are… Shelter Song” by Temples, “Different Drum” by Linda Ronstadt, “I Am a Rock” by Miles Kane, “Come Closer” by Miles Kane, and “Holiday” by Jason Falkner.

If you could create your own online course what would it be called? Music, Fashion, and Design of the 1960s.

You are an online student visiting campus for the first time. Where do you go for lunch? Audubon Circle Restaurant and Bar—Near Fenway Park but very low-key and cool. A great hidden patio when it’s nice out!

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Liz Lemon on 30 Rock

I will most likely be browsing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit. Facebook

The first TV jingle that comes to mind. “1-800-54 GIANT”

This holiday season I’m most looking forward to… watching my 3 nieces open their presents, and getting some time off.

Andrew Hinkell

Program: Computer Science, Executive LLM

What was the last book you read? Foundation by Isaac Asimov and yes, I would recommend it!

Where did you go to college? I went to BU for my Bachelor’s in Mathematics and Economics.

If you could travel to any place and time, where and when would you go? If I were travelling to the past I would like to visit Ancient Rome at its height. If I were travelling to the future I would like to travel to Mars!

The name of my favorite Pandora radio station is… The Marvelettes Radio. It varies from time to time, but that’s the one I am currently enjoying.

If you could create your own online course what would it be called? Science Fiction Television: An Introduction

You are an online student visiting campus for the first time. Where do you go for lunch? UBurger! Great burgers and even better frappes.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? The Doctor because I could visit any place and time.

I will most likely be browsing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit. Reddit

The first TV jingle that comes to mind. “Only at Mattress Giant. Ooh-aah.”

This holiday season I’m most looking forward to… spending time with my family and enjoying the New England Winter!

Patti McDonnell

Program: Criminal Justice, Center for Professional Education

What was the last book you read? The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell

If you could travel to any place and time, where and when would you go? Ancient Egypt – I’d like to see how the heck they built those pyramids.

The Top 5 most played tracks on my iTunes are… “Wuthering Heights” by Pat Benatar, “Levon” by Elton John, “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” by Pink, “Good Old, Fashioned Lover Boy” by Queen, and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.

If you could create your own online course what would it be called? Planning for an Early Retirement: Do as I Say Not as I do

You are an online student visiting campus for the first time. Where do you go for lunch? Otto Pizza – I like the Eggplant, Ricotta and Basil pizza.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Scarlett O’Hara – uncompromising, feisty, fearless, determined, and ya gotta admire a gal who can whip up a dress from draperies.

I will most likely be browsing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit. My browsing is done in a store, during retail therapy excursions.

The first TV jingle that comes to mind. It’s not a jingle but the first thing that pops into my head is……Uh oh…guess what day it is?  Guess what day it is?  Anybody?  Julie, hey guess what day it is? Oh come on I know you can hear me.  Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike.  What day is it Mike? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  Listen, guess what today is?  It’s HUMP DAY.  Woohooo…

This holiday season I’m most looking forward to… Intersession! First intersession since I started working at BU that I won’t be working a 2nd job.  I will truly be able to enjoy some downtime with my family.

Chantal Horgan

Program: Health Communication, Undergraduate Degree Completion

What was the last book you read? A Song of Ice and Fire, A Storm of Swords (so good!)

Where did you go to college? Northeastern University – Husky for life! (but a Terrier in the office…)

If you could travel to any place and time, where and when would you go? I would love to be able to go back to early 20th century Europe, specifically France. My great grandmother was a movie producer and actress there, and I would treasure the opportunity to see her in her heyday, running the show (literally)!

The top 5 most played tracks on my iTunes are… Going to California” by Led Zeppelin, “Over The Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, “I Feel Free” by Cream , and “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds.

If you could create your own online course what would it be called? The Ins and Outs of ePortfolio!

You are an online student visiting campus for the first time. Where do you go for lunch? I’m fairly new to the BU community, but one of the places I’ve visited is the Angora Café and their panini are delicious!

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Daenerys Targaryen

I will most likely be browsing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Reddit. Everything besides Twitter

The first TV jingle that comes to mind. “I have a structured settlement and I need cash now!”

This holiday season I’m most looking forward to… spending time with family that I don’t get to see nearly often enough, and not sitting in early morning traffic!

Two-time Olympian closing in on master’s from BU online

By Dave D’Onofrio

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Long Island University in 2007, Taraje Williams-Murray knew he wanted to continue his education and quickly begin pursuing his master’s — but in order to do so, he first had to find a program that would fit the challenges of his overflowing schedule.

By then, Williams-Murray had begun training for his second Olympics as a member of the United States’ Judo team, and training for the Beijing Games was obviously a time-consuming commitment. He needed to find a school that would allow him to balance his athletics and his academics, while simultaneously setting him up for short-term success on the mat and long-term success in life.

“Having the flexibility to be able to train and travel while continuing to pursue my education was important to me,” he said.

And with Boston University, through Metropolitan College’s online Master of Science in Banking and Financial Services Management program, he found just what he was looking for. Without interrupting his athletic endeavors. Or even having to move away from his native New York.

Enrolling at BU six years ago, Williams-Murray is one course away from being eligible for his master’s degree, and when he does graduate he may do as one of the most accomplished athletes among the roughly 6,000 Terriers who have graduated from BU online over its first 10-plus years.

First taking judo lessons and falling love with the sport when he was 8, by the time he was 19 he’d qualified for U.S. National team and traveled to Athens to compete in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Fighting in the 60 kg division, he won a match at those Games, then followed it up by finishing ninth in the 2005 World Championships and seventh at the 2007 Pan American Games.

He won a bronze medal at the Pan-Am games the next year, positioning himself for another go at the Olympics in 2008, and in Beijing the 5-foot-6, 145-pound Williams-Murray began the tournament with a brilliant upset win over Japan’s Hiroaki Hiroaka — the top-ranked fighter in the tourney, and the 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Check it out:

That triumph put him into the round of 16, and while he was eventually eliminated, it didn’t take away from an experience he’ll carry with him forever.

“The opening ceremony always sticks with you,” he said when asked about his favorite Olympic memories. “Those are images that never really dull in my mind. I also recall vividly all of the moments of competition and those shared with other athletes and family. Having gone to two games there are lots of stories. It is tough to pick out one.”

Describing himself as an “intelligent fighter,” Williams-Murray says he always took a cerebral approach to his matches, pouring a lot of time into preparing strategies and tactics for all of his potential opponents. And while his days as a competitive fighter are over — beyond occasionally practicing judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu, and delivering seminars — he says some of the lessons he’s learned over his many years on the mat have translated and helped him in the business world.

“My career in martial arts has provided valuable experiences whose lessons are directly applicable in finance,” he said. “I learned concepts such as risk/return spectrum, asset allocation, and opportunity costs within the context of planning to make an Olympic team. Unfortunately, other lessons like the value of sticking to the plan and executing those tactics, were learned through losses on the biggest stage.”

Taking classes through BU has taught Williams-Murray plenty, too – and not only what he’s learned within the content of the online classroom. Specifically, he says he’s ascertained quite a bit about time management. “The program is fast-paced and one can easily make it more challenging by falling behind,” he said, noting that his advice for incoming students would be simply, “mind your time,” and adding that those new students are entering a BU online environment that has positively evolved since he was in their position.

“The online education experience has improved since I started in the program,” he said. “It is far more interactive and collaborative now, more closely resembling a classic classroom setting.”

Williams-Murray recently launched a registered investment advisory firm in New Jersey called Coroebus Wealth Management, which he founded with the mission to “inspire entrepreneurs to prepare and execute bespoke strategic plans to achieve specific goals.” He says it’s the only independently owned firm of its type in Newark — but if another should open, we assume he’d be up for the competition. Two Olympic judo appearances say he enjoys that sort of thing.

Plus, with a BU master’s degree coming soon, he’s eager.

“My ‘what’s next,’” he said, “is GROWTH.”

Month after bombing, FBI agent completes her master’s degree online from BU


Graduate Kristen von KleinSmid with Professor Mary Ellen Mastrorilli

On April 15, Kristen von KleinSmid was supposed to begin studying the various issues involved in prosecuting, defending, adjudicating, and sanctioning white collar crime. It was the first day of Week 6 in her final seven-week course before graduating from Boston University’s online Master of Criminal Justice program, and she was ready to join her fellow CJ 632 students in reading the term’s closing week of lecture content and digging into its last three discussions.

But then two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon changed those plans.

A native of Southern California who helped the U.S. Air Force build the C-17 cargo plane after graduating from USC with an engineering degree, von KleinSmid was hired by the FBI in the mid-1990s, and after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she applied for a supervisor position at Bureau headquarters working on terrorism matters. She got the job, and held the position for three years before returning to Los Angeles, and eventually moving to the FBI’s field office in Boston.

On April 15, thus, she was working as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge – one of five assistants to Richard DesLauriers, the individual who led the federal investigation and updated the public at press conferences – and so when the bombs went off along Boylston Street, she was pressed into service. Her course readings and discussions would have to wait because, as she put it, “that was my case.”

She didn’t offer any details in a recent phone conversation, other than to acknowledge it was the case of a lifetime. “I’ll never again experience what I experienced from 4/15 to 4/22,” von KleinSmid said of a week that included the explosions that killed three, the identifying of two suspects, the manhunt for the alleged attackers, the death of one and the apprehension of the other, and the initial stages of an investigation that remains ongoing.

It left little time for anything else, including sleep. And so three days after the bombing, finally having a chance to go home, von KleinSmid logged into the course and posted to one of the discussion boards her apologies for a lack of participation that week – but by then, her classmates had already made clear they understood.

She’s not sure how they did it, but a couple of them went out of their way, reached out to the FBI to find her contact information, and sent her messages. They just wanted to wish her luck while telling her they were thinking of her, and that she was making them proud.

“That was awesome,” von KleinSmid said.

It was also in line with von KleinSmid’s description of her experience at BU. She says she made some really good friends in the criminal justice program, which took her two years to complete. She particularly enjoyed the live classroom lectures, which helped her to realize “there’s a lot of really smart people out there,” and helped allay the early apprehensions she had about getting her degree through an online program.

“How’s it going to work? How are you going to interact?” she wondered at the beginning. “But I’d say that you probably interact more in an online program than you would if you were sitting in a huge classroom with 250 people not wanting to raise your hand. The discussions require you to interact with at least 15 people every week. And some professors really make it fun.”

Her favorite was Mary Ellen Mastrorilli, because the professor’s passion for the material and eagerness to engage students were apparent, though von KleinSmid says she enjoyed the program and its instructors on the whole. Initially she wasn’t sure how she’d manage to complete a “very difficult online program” while simultaneously working 60-70 hours a week, but she embraced the challenge, liked learning, and “somehow made it through” thanks to hard work.

“Having worked in law enforcement for the last 17 years, I thought I knew the criminal justice system pretty well – but I learned a lot,” she said. “The classes were really good.”

“One of my first classes was Victimology. Working in terrorism it’s usually working the bad guys before they do something bad; they haven’t really victimized people, so I don’t really work with a lot of victims. It was nice to get an appreciation as to how the victims tend to get revictimized by the press and by law enforcement. That was an eye-opening experience.”

Already slated for a promotion prior to the Boston bombing, von KleinSmid has since moved to Washington, D.C., for a new assignment that officially began on May 5. With her relocation she is now a Section Chief in the FBI’s Security Division, and in that role her responsibilities include the oversight of the FBI police, security details for the Director and the Attorney General, and the physical security of all FBI buildings.

It’s a big job, but she still found time to return to Boston this past weekend, visiting the city for a couple of days so she could participate in Metropolitan College’s commencement exercises. She attended an afternoon reception put on by the criminal justice department. Later that night she walked across the stage to receive her diploma from Dean Tanya Zlateva. Then she brought that with her back to Washington – along with all of the knowledge accrued as one part of a most memorable Boston experience. Congratulations and thank you, Kristen.

Prepping for Commencement: a BU Online guide for your Boston trip

Planning on coming to campus for Commencement next month? Student Services Coordinators Emily and Laura have some tips for your Boston visit.

First stop: campus! For those of you who haven’t visited BU before, we recommend taking a campus tour.  Did you know BU has a “beach”? Find out why it’s called that and maybe catch some rays at this urban greenspace. Drop by the BU Pub for a signature sandwich and a pint. No campus visit would be complete without a trip to the BU Barnes and Noble to get your Terrier gear!

Laura and Emily show off their Terrier pride at the BU Bookstore. Go BU!

Near campus is the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park. Even if you’re not a Sox fan (which we’ll forgive), the Park tours are a fun way to experience America’s oldest ballpark. There are also loads of sports bars and restaurants in the area, too. We personally love Bleacher Bar, which has one of the best sports views in the city: sip your drink while you look out onto the field!

Lansdowne Street: home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912

If tours are your thing, we also recommend the Freedom Trail. This self-guided walking tour of Boston takes you through the history of our city and its place in American history. For an awesome aerial view, visit the top of the Prudential Center and take a ticketed tour at the Skywalk Observatory. There’s also a restaurant and bar at the Top of the Hub, which is a great alternative because you can get a drink and walk around, seeing the whole city below without buying a ticket! As an added incentive, Top of the Hub has live jazz on Friday nights.

360 city views from the Top of the Hub

Another notable tour is the fleet of Duck Boats that takes sightseers through the city and onto the water! As the locals would say, they’re “wicked fun.”

May tends to be a sunny, warm month in Boston, so we have some suggestions for outdoor activities. The Boston Public Garden is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. The Swan Boats give short rides  (perfect for kids!) that take you around the Garden’s lagoon.

Swan boats and flowers in the Public Garden at Boston Common

The Esplanade and the Emerald Necklace are both great places for a walk, run, or picnic. The Boston Common is at the head of the Emerald Necklace and is a fun place to spend an afternoon: check out the street vendors and performers and maybe play a game of ultimate frisbee! The State House is located nearby, and you can request a tour of the Capitol Building.

The Esplanade offers biking and running trails as well as great views of the city.

If you want a little more adventure outside the city proper, the Boston Harbor Islands are a perfect day trip destination. Hop on the ferry and hike, swim, fish, picnic or just enjoy the scenery.

Don’t forget the more standard attractions of any city: museums! Boston has some great ones which are geared toward kids. If you’re bringing little ones, check out the Museum of Science, the Children’s Museum, or the New England Aquarium. The MFA and the Gardner Museum also have activities for kids you can ask about. And of course, all are a good time for adults, too.

If your trip is more grown-up-centered, we recommend checking out tours (and beer tastings) at the Samuel Adams and Harpoon Brewery. Swing by the North End (Little Italy), not just for the amazing food, but also for some laughs at the Improv Asylum.

Getting around Boston is pretty easy. (It’s one of the US’s most walkable cities!) The MBTA is your best bet for cheap transportation with its system of subway cars and buses. BU has three Green line T stops on campus and the #57 bus runs through as well. For a fun, different way to get around, grab a pedi cab. Enjoy the fresh air and banter with your biker. You can pick these up around the city – just like hailing a regular cab, but much more fun! Another alternative to the usual taxi are the water taxis on the Boston Harbor. And, of course, you can grab the BUS — BU’s shuttle — when you’re on campus.

Laura at Hynes Convention Center T-stop. All aboard the B-line!

If you’re looking for places to shop, we’ve got you covered.  Newbury Street is Boston’s premier shopping destination. From designer shops to a mix of upscale and casual restaurants, it’s a great place to window shop, grab a bite and people watch. Copley Square is a street over and hosts the Prudential Center.  Faneuil Hall Marketplace is another fun destination for shopping, food and sights. There are always street performers around, which makes the experience new and interesting every time.

Emily on Newbury Street, outside one of our favorite bookstore/cafes.

Last but certainly not least, here are some of our top choices for food and drink in the city. Because graduation weekend can be very busy (Boston is home to more than 60 colleges and universities, after all!), we recommend making dinner reservations.

Sunset Cantina (BU Campus) $$

T’s Pub (BU Campus) $$

Angora Cafe is an office favorite for sandwiches and salads (BU Campus) $

Espresso Royale Caffe is a hot study spot with yummy sandwiches and coffee (BU Campus) $

OTTO Pizza (BU Campus) $$

* * *

Eastern Standard has a speakeasy vibe and amazing menu choices (Kenmore Square) $$$

Cornwall’s (Kenmore Square) $$

Le Petit Robert (Kenmore Square) $$

* * *

Reagle Beagle (Coolidge Corner) $$

Paris Creperie (Coolidge Corner)  $

* * *

Legal Sea Foods Harborside (Waterfront/Seaport District)  $$$

* * *

Fiore has a rooftop bar! (North End) $$$

Mike’s Pastries is a great spot for Italian pastries, but be sure to bring cash! (North End) $

Ernesto’s is famous for their authentic Italian pizza (North End) $

* * *

The Beehive has live music and delicious cocktails (South End)  $$$

No trip would be complete without some good eats!

We hope you enjoy your visit to Boston. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions: or

Congratulations on graduating!


Who we think will emerge from the Madness this March

Since our Terriers weren’t invited to the Big Dance — and because there wasn’t much interest around the office in a “ Postseason Tournament” bracket — we basketball fans here at the Office of Distance Education have been forced to adopt some new favorite college hoops teams as the NCAA tournament gets underway.

In typical March Madness fashion the field of 68 seems to be wide open this year, and that’s reflected in the variety of predicted champions chosen in our annual for-entertainment-purposes-0nly office pool. Among 15 entries, eight different teams were forecast as the ultimate winner,  meaning bragging rights figure to be up for grabs right through the Final Four.

Who do you think will win? Let us know in the comment section, or on Facebook, and check out the breakdown of how people here at ODE and in the Metropolitan College marketing department think the tourney will shake out. You may recognize some of the names…

























* – 2012 bracket challenge champion.
** – 2011 bracket challenge champion.
*** – In her defense, she’s five months old and her bracket was selected by writing each team on a separate piece of paper and seeing which one she tried to eat.

Welcome to the BU Bookstore

Distance education students typically do their studying hundreds (even thousands) of miles from campus — but no matter how far from Boston they may be, we strive to build connections between our students and the Boston University campus as well as to foster a feeling of community and BU pride.

One of our biggest assets in making that happen is our bookstore, Barnes & Noble at Boston University.

On a purely academic level, B&N at BU’s website is the place where BU online students can find all the materials they’ll need to complete their coursework each semester. Our office works closely with the staff there to ensure that everything is available about a month before the start of every new term, and continues working together as each launch date approaches to ensure that the student receives any type of textbook-related support they may need in order to succeed — whether that means answering general questions, assisting people overseas, or making arrangements to assure on-time delivery.

The benefits of the bookstore aren’t confined to the virtual classroom, either. Offering everything from hockey jerseys, to hats, to every imaginable piece of BU-branded apparel, the store gives those studying elsewhere the chance to show off their Terrier pride in all corners of the globe. Then, when it’s time to graduate, they’re the ones who rent out the caps and gowns that students will wear at commencement.

To learn even more about the bookstore check out the video above, starring BU Barnes & Noble General Manager Steve Turco, and produced by our media team. It contains a look at the store itself, and a glimpse onto our campus — visible from wherever in the world you may actually be. You can also like the BU Barnes & Noble Facebook page to stay up to date on news and special promotions.

What we’re thankful for at ODE

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many in America take a moment to count their blessings — and we here at the Office of Distance Education are certainly among them. Not only are we excitedly grateful for the chance to join Metropolitan College in celebrating our 10th anniversary as leaders and innovators in the field of online learning, but our 28 staff members are as thankful personally as they are professionally.

Here’s a glimpse into what some of the folks at 1010 Comm Ave are thankful for this year:

I am thankful that there is an outside chance I might get some sleep over the holiday weekend! I am thankful for awesome cranberry sauce. I am thankful that I get to spend the holiday weekend with family. (Did I mention that I am thankful for just the possibility of sleep?)

I’m thankful for …  good health, my new job at Distance Education, and my mom’s stuffing!

I am thankful that my 93-year-old grandmother gets to enjoy Thanksgiving with her two sisters, one of which is her twin. I am thankful that my cousin is home from Afghanistan to enjoy Thanksgiving with my Uncle and Aunt. I am thankful that I get to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family and two little nieces. And, of course, I am also thankful that my two Fantasy Football teams both currently sit in first place!

I’m thankful for my colleagues in Distance Education who have helped me through my first few months at BU.

I am thankful that Jimmy Fallon is so thankful.

I am thankful for the opportunity to learn something every day. I learn to be more patient, more open-minded, learn to listen more, even learn to learn more efficiently. These lessons are ongoing; I am thankful to realize that.

I’m so grateful for my friends, both at BU Online and elsewhere. They are a constant source of joy and support.

I am thankful for all of my wonderful coworkers!

I am thankful for the people who inspire us to be the absolute best that we can be, whether they realize it or not, and whether at the beginning or the end of their life.

I am thankful that YouTube has the full video of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” available. (Seriously, check it out above!)

I am thankful for coffee, family, and health … and of course laughter. Not necessarily in this order.

I’m thankful that my sister in law is a wonderful cook and I’m going to have a delicious and relaxing Thanksgiving with my family.

Among other things … I am thankful for a great team of co-workers and a university dedicated to excellence in online learning.

I am thankful for my family, especially my sister.

I am thankful for the internet, without which you wouldn’t be reading this!

I am thankful that sometimes the common good is recognized to be of greater value than singular advancement.

I am thankful to be working with an unbelievably dedicated team of people at the Office of Distance Education. I have worked in a lot of different places over the years, but until I came to BU, I had not worked in a place where everyone actually seems happy to come to work each day, happy and eager to give their all every day, and happy to see and work with one another as much as the people are here. What an amazing and unique thing to be able to say. Thank you to all of my fellow BU Online colleagues, faculty, facilitators, and students for making work so fulfilling and rewarding.

A decade of distance learning at BU

The Office of Distance Education's Jan Morris, Xuan Cai, and Patti McDonnell (left to right) are part of the team that brings MCJ courses to life as BU online begins to celebrate its 10th anniversary. (Photo from Metropolitan Magazine)

This September, the launch of Fall 01 classes doesn’t only signify the start of a new term, or a new academic year — it also marks the 10th anniversary of BU’s first fully online degree program and the first step taken in the university’s journey toward establishing itself as one of the  nation’s leaders in distance learning.

Those early days and BU’s rise up the ranks is profiled in the latest issue of Metropolitan Magazine, which details how that initial offering — Metropolitan College’s Master of Criminal Justice — opened with one full-time faculty member and just one class, and how the support of MET’s leadership helped foster an environment in which BU online could flourish and become what it is today. Specifically speaking, that’s a powerhouse operation offering 14 degree programs, five graduate certificates, and seven professional certificates in conjunction with 18 programs from 11 schools and colleges.

“We invested the effort, creativity, and resources to treat online education not simply as comparable to an on-campus education for working professionals, but exceptional in its own right,” MET Magazine quotes Dean Jay Halfond as saying. “And five thousand alumni later, we are pleased that we were able to provide this educational opportunity to students across the nation and globe. This is a time to celebrate, to look back, but then continue our aspirations and hard work so our next decade is even better.”

You can read the entire piece by clicking here — and we encourage you to pay particular attention to the section spotlighting the contributions of our team within the Office of Distance Education. As the article says, the tireless trio of Xuan Cai, Patti McDonnell, and Jan Morris are “committed to presenting a high-quality, innovative, and—ultimately—personalized online learning experience” for the MCJ program, and not to be overlooked are the contributions of media producers Rob Haley and Charles Southworth. They consistently enhance courses across each of BU’s online programs with first-quality videos and interactive learning objects.

And, with the rest of the office, they’ve already begun the process of bringing that expectation of excellence into decade number two.

Graduate of BU’s online CFA Music Education Program Carol Shansky Publishes Music Appreciation Book

Dr. Carol Shansky

Carol Shansky, who was the BU College of Fine Arts’ first online Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education recipient, recently reached another milestone in her impressive career with the publication of her book, “Musical Tapestries: A Thematic Approach to Music Appreciation.”

Published by Kendall Hunt, the book is available here, and in addition to a variety of musical experiences that have seen her perform all over the world, she says the work was also positively influenced and enhanced by the education she received through BU online — where she now works as a course facilitator.

“My Music Appreciation textbook, ‘Musical Tapestries: A Thematic Approach to Music Appreciation,’ was in the works before I started my doctorate online.  However, my experience as a student – and graduate – of the program was central not only to its completion but to developing it from a set of ideas and practices to a textbook that I am proud of and feel makes an important contribution to the teaching of music to non-majors,” Dr. Shansky says.

“Naturally, as part of doctoral training, one learns to write at a very high level and understand proper referencing of sources and how to gather knowledge.  But doing so in a distance education format exposed me to a variety of experiences and perspectives that are likely to never be as readily available as they are in this environment.  From recommendations of colleagues to a deepening of my understanding of my subject, distance learning afforded me the opportunity to mine ideas and concepts in a very rich way.  Professors and facilitators are teaching in varied circumstances and geographic locales which lent me a critical world view. My ‘textbook’ was transformed as I was transformed as a distance education student at Boston University.”

The College of Fine Arts Doctor and Master of Music Education degree programs launched online with the support of Metropolitan College’s Office of Distance Education in 2005.

Congratulations, Carol!

Commencement 2012 by the Numbers

Boston University’s 139th commencement ceremonies featured thousands of graduates, tens of thousands of guests, wisdom from the chairman of a billion-dollar corporation, one half-Vulcan — and, of course, hundreds of degree recipients who completed their studies entirely online through BU’s Office of Distance Education.

Representing colleges all across campus, and countries all across the globe, the online Class of 2012 signified our ninth group of graduates to participate in the May festivities. For an interactive, in-depth look at where Metropolitan College’s graduates have hailed from through the years, click the map below. And for a look at some of the numbers that tell the story of how BU welcomed a new set of alums, check them out below!

Map of MET grads

3,300 plus

Number of graduates who attended the ceremony at Nickerson Field


Estimated crowd packed into the stadium seats to salute the grads


Times Leonard Nimoy — who received an honorary doctorate of humane letters — flashed the Vulcan symbol from the stage, Dr. Spock encouraging graduates to “live long and prosper”

Leonard Nimoy encourages the Class of 2012 to "live long and prosper."

Leonard Nimoy encourages the Class of 2012 to "live long and prosper."


Words spoken by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt in delivering
his commencement address


Times Schmidt mentioned Google by name


Online Master of Criminal Justice graduates in May (among 89 since Summer 2011)



Online Master of Science in Computer Information Systems graduates who received diplomas


Online Art Education degree recipients from the College of Fine Arts


Online Master of Health Care Communication graduates


Recipients of Online Master of Management Science degrees


Students who completed their undergraduate degree this May through BU’s online program


Masters and Doctoral graduates of the online music program, bringing the total to 181 since September 2011

Media interviews


Number of students interviewed by our media team about their BU Online experience during Commencement Weekend


Approximate number of BU Online alumni as we approach our
10th anniversary!