Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TechLife Profile - Ron Morgan

TechLife Profile

RONALD E. MORGAN, Dean of Academic Technology & Innovation

By Catherine Reynolds

ColumbusFranklin University is esteemed for its partnerships with the business and professional community. With more than 11,000 students attending Franklin each year, the university serves the educational needs of adult students in Central Ohio and beyond with 60 percent of course hours taught online. Each term, more than 5,000 students log in to my.franklin.edu for online coursework in a variety of programs such as accounting, business, computer science, e-marketing, human resources and management information systems.

With these statistics, it’s no surprise that Franklin University relies heavily on technology to deliver dynamic educational content to students. One of the people “making it happen” is Ronald E. Morgan, dean of academic technology and innovation.

In his role as dean, Morgan oversees the academic side of technology. At Franklin, courses are designed for face-to-face and online instruction at the same time. This guarantees students learn the same material whether they are in a traditional or online classroom. One of Morgan’s major initiatives is to update and enhance the user interface of the online courses, and his goal is to “make the systems as world class as possible.”

For example, “Franklin Live” is a two-way VOIP, Internet-based application that allows professors to conduct a virtual classroom that may feature PowerPoint presentations, videos and quizzes. Students can “raise their hands” to ask questions via chat and there is a place to send completed assignments.

Franklin University has a great model for servicing the working adult,” Morgan said. “The program is flexible, service-oriented and at a nice price point.”

Already, the university delivers educational content beyond Central Ohio through its GoArmyEd program which allows active duty military personnel to complete online coursework from anywhere on the globe.

Recently, Franklin University announced plans to take this proven delivery model and expand the educational offering in an Indianapolis location complete with its own dean, instructors, classrooms and computer labs with back-office functions supported in Columbus. This is part of a strategic growth initiative that includes expanding beyond the school's Main Campus and three suburban locations in Central Ohio into other Midwest and international markets such as Poland, Oman and Macedonia.

Certainly, Morgan draws upon his past experiences in executive IT leadership outside of the academic context in which he now works. He has held a number of executive IT leadership roles at major US corporations, including Cardinal Health, DuPont Pharmaceuticals and Monsanto Corporation. He also was CIO for a startup B2B ecommerce company in Dublin.

Prior to his current role at Franklin University, Morgan served as CIO, program chair for the undergraduate Management Information Sciences major, and had responsibility for the Technology Leadership Focus in the MBA program.

Morgan is an active participant in many networking events within the Columbus technology community. Networking is really important,” he said. “You really need to keep up to date with what’s going on. People don’t realize it’s important until it’s needed.”

Morgan encourages professionals to take advantage of the networking opportunities available through TechLife Columbus and TechColumbus. “In addition to making contacts, it’s also intellectually interesting. You meet bright people and it’s fun,” he said. “Technology people have tons of other interests. You can learn a lot.”

Columbus is getting great press these days,” he said, citing the city’s recognition as an up and coming tech city and the suburb of Dublin as a top entrepreneur city. “It’s a fairly recent phenomenon. People don’t realize what’s going on here.”

When he’s not networking at an IT Martini or participating in a TechColumbus panel discussion, Morgan makes time for reading, exercising, bike riding and participating in Dublin AM Rotary activities. Family also is important; he is married with two adult children and lives in Dublin.

Over the years, many career-minded technologists have often sought Morgan’s advice on whether to pursue an MS in Computer Science or an MBA. He encourages people to do what they enjoy. If it is management, then he recommends the MBA; but if it is working directly with technology, an MS degree may make more sense. His best advice is to “follow your passion more than anything else.”


Catherine Reynolds, CPC is the IT recruiting division manager at Dawson. View her LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/columbus and follow her Twitter updates @CatRey


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