Island University Recognized as ‘Tier 1’ Institution by Educational Nonprofit

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The end of spring 2020 – a semester like no other for universities around the world – provides a moment to pause and reflect on the remarkable accomplishment of an abrupt shift from the traditional face-to-face learning environment to a completely digital instructional platform in response to the public health crisis that emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Island University, however, success in shifting content and instructional resources to an online setting was set in motion years ago and was put into hyperdrive following Hurricane Harvey. Those efforts have now been nationally recognized: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has been declared a Tier 1 College in Texas by higher education nonprofit Educate to Career (ETC) in its 2020 College Rankings.

“Texas A&M-Corpus Christi already had plans in place to address a potential remote work scenario which allowed us to swiftly move our operations into a virtual format,” said Dr. Michelle Singh, Associate Vice President of Teaching and Learning Technologies at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “ETC’s ranking helps to highlight the strong academic delivery and innovative services that were already in place at the Island University.”

Singh said 86% of faculty were digitally enhancing courses prior to the pandemic, which helped the progression to a full remote work scenario amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, several remote work best practices had been tested within the Information Technology department as well as the larger community to have systems in place for supporting a remote work environment.

“All of the moving parts came together nicely because of the strategic preparation that was in place,” she said. “It was wonderful to hear that our institution had earned such an accolade. It is a true testament to the dedication and effort the entire university community has actively invested in their digital transformation to deliver a quality experience for our students.”       

While ETC launched its rankings list in 2014 with a focus on the economic value created by the colleges it scored, this year’s list, which ranked more than 1,200 colleges, required a distance learning component and a renewed focus on tuition costs, the nonprofit said on its webpage.

The Island University is joined by 40 other public and private universities in the Tier 1 list.

Looking ahead, Singh said her department is engaged in a partnership with Blackboard Academic Services, a leading educational technology company, to design additional strategic plans for digital learning at the Island University.

“This strategic plan will allow us to outline a vision as we approach the new frontier of digital education,” she said. “The plan development is headed by a committee of campus stakeholders from diverse university units to bring forth a unified approach to digital growth and success for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.”   

ETC required the following criteria for universities to be considered for a Tier 1-College ranking:

  • A physical campus for in-classroom instruction should health authorities allow colleges to open in [fall 2020]
  • Robust software and systems to support distance learning programs
  • Faculty experience in teaching online (minimum of 3 years in delivering online curriculum)
  • Reasonable tuition and fees on a relative basis