We recently had a chance to chat with Legarè Price, Dean of Online Programs and Adult Education at Shorter University, about his experience of transitioning from the non-academic side of the college to academic as well as being an online student. While both making a career move and going back to college for higher education can be challenging, Price explains how to do both with ease.
What do you like best about your job?
I believe what I enjoy most about working for Shorter University (SU) is working alongside the amazing faculty and staff whose sole mission is to serve our student body. I have consistently watched professors going above and beyond the call of duty to serve our students. Their hearts for service and students make it a pleasure to work alongside them.
You received your undergraduate degree in science and communication. What led you to enter into the field of academic administration?
Early on in my career, I worked in sales, both retail and business-to-business. Because of this, I was brought on to SU to help with recruitment for online programs, specifically to build partnerships between outside organizations. However, over the years that I have been with SU, I fell in love with the academic side of the institution. I began working with academic deans and professors, other departments on campus and our student body and discovered that I could better help the institution by using my talents and strengths to help aid the institution as a whole, rather than just our one department. The rest is history.
What led you to go after your Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Management (MM) degrees from SU? Did you pursue both degrees at the same time?
I actually did not intend to pursue both degrees at first. I began my MBA in 2014 and began the MM after completing the previous degree in 2015. While the degrees are similar, I felt that having a more in-depth understanding of management theory and practice would help me as I tried to organize and lead in my current position. I was also interested in pursuing collegiate level teaching as well and had an interest in both business and management as concentrations.
Did you get either of these degrees through online education?
I actually completed both degrees through SU’s online programs. I cannot speak highly enough of the professors and chairs that I worked with throughout my degrees, which is another reason that lead me to continuing my career in academic administration.
What advice would you give a young professional who is contemplating getting a master’s degree in his or her area of study?
I think the greatest piece of advice I could give was actually given to me when I was deciding whether or not to pursue my master’s degree. A friend once told me, “A graduate degree is a great thing and is incredibly valuable, but do not do it if you just want to get a raise or a promotion. Do it because you want to learn, to improve yourself, and to use that knowledge to better mankind in some way. Otherwise, what is the point?” I believe, far too often, students start the program and only want to do it to get a raise or promotion at work. However, the students who want to take that knowledge and better their fellow man are the ones that most often perform the best and go on to ultimately become the more successful alumni.
As dean, you oversee the recruitment of SU’s online programs. What are the top three questions you get from students and how do you respond?
- Can I complete my master’s degree entirely online? The answer is yes. You can complete the entire master’s degree in as little as a year entirely in our online programs.
- What is required to get started? Students are required to fill out a free application, submit their previous college official transcripts, a resume, a statement of objectives and two professional letters of recommendation. That’s it. Once everything is submitted, our Graduate Council will review the students’ information to see if they meet the qualifications for admission.
- Do I need a degree in the field of study I am going into (i.e. a business undergrad degree for the MBA)? No. While we do require students have an undergraduate degree, it does not have to be in the field of study you are interested in. If students do not have all of the required prerequisite courses, they can be completed online as well prior to starting your graduate courses.
What practices, habits and tools help make a student successful at online learning?
Honestly, the students who do the best in online courses are those who have stellar organization and time management skills. Most of our online students have multiple responsibilities they are juggling while taking online courses: taking care of children, working a full-time job, spending time with family and friends, hobbies and more. All of these things are important, but they can also threaten students being successful in completing their academic tasks. The students who learn to manage these areas, arrange their schedules around school and organize their work to be as efficient as possible are the ones who are ultimately successful.
How have you seen online learning change at SU since you began in the enrollment department in 2012?
I think online learning has become a much more interactive experience over the last few years. Gone are the days where online learning can simply be a tool where students come and completely teach themselves. Students expect more interaction with their classmates and professors as well as having greater hands-on experience with the material itself. Students want to relate to what they are learning, which requires staff and faculty to make sure material is relevant and engaging.
How do you think online learning will change in the next 5 years? 10 years?
The sky is the limit. Online programs bring flexibility to an industry that had very little in the past. If you were a full-time working adult, it was incredibly difficulty to complete your college degree, but online courses have changed that. I am hopeful that with developments in software, increases in internet bandwidth and speed and access to audio/video technology becoming more available, we can bring that same combination of academic excellence and flexibility to more people than ever before.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I would hope positively. I believe most would say I am the diplomat of the office. I tend to be the person who tries to see everyone’s perspectives and find a positive middle ground.
What are your hobbies?
Most of my time is spent with my beautiful wife and my three amazing children. We all love sports, so we love attending baseball, soccer and football games from time to time. I have also been an associate pastor for many years, mostly working with college students. Other than that, I am a huge pop culture enthusiast. I enjoy sitting down and reading a book, listening to a number of amazing podcasts, going to the movies or binging the newest Netflix series.
Price concludes by stating that one of the core values he admires about SU is the Christian atmosphere based on service. 1 Peter 4:10 reads, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Furthermore, Price explained, that the faculty and administration at SU have all been gifted by God with a great education, and it is their duty to serve the students and provide them that same gift. The area of service he is most passionate about is building relationships between students and faculty on campus and breaking down the barriers to make life easier for each online student coming in, whether that be distance or technology. The job of faculty and staff at SU is to make it possible for each student to receive the amazing gift of education.