Washington State University has appointed Debbie O’Donnell as vice chancellor of student affairs of WSU Global Campus and Rebecca Van de Vord as vice chancellor of academic affairs.

O’Donnell and Van de Vord are the first to take the position of vice chancellor of WSU’s fully online campus.

The announcement comes after the 2019 decision to appoint Dave Cillay as Global Campus’ first chancellor. WSU is among the first public universities in the nation to put its online campus into the same chancellor-level leadership structure as traditional physical campuses.

“This decision speaks to how much WSU values its fully online campus and its contributions to the university,” said Cillay, who is also vice president of WSU Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). “Building upon our new chancellor leadership structure puts us on a more level playing field with WSU’s physical campuses, and that means a lot to us.”

As of spring semester 2020, more than 3,200 primarily adult students are pursuing their education completely online at WSU Global Campus, which offers 20 undergraduate majors, 13 master’s degree programs, and 20 online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs.

“Debbie and Rebecca have both done great work for Global Campus over the years, improving and building upon our outstanding online programs and helping our students achieve their goals,” Cillay said.

Closeup of Rebecca Van de Vord
Rebecca Van de Vord

Van de Vord will continue her current work as assistant vice president of AOI, with the addition of her new role.

Van de Vord has been at WSU for 20 years and at Global Campus/AOI since 2007, working as an instructional designer for online classes and as special assistant to the provost for student success before assuming her current duties. She earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in communication and media studies from WSU, as well as a graduate certificate in instructional design.

O’Donnell has worked in higher education marketing, enrollment management, and student affairs for more than 20 years and has been at WSU since 2005. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration from WSU and a master’s in adult and continuing education from Kansas State University.

Closeup of Debbie O’Donnell
Debbie O’Donnell

“Online learning presents a great opportunity to reach more students from diverse backgrounds and walks of life in Washington state and beyond, helping to fulfill WSU’s land grant mission,” said O’Donnell. “I think that making Global Campus’ leadership structure more like traditional campuses shows that WSU recognizes that opportunity.”

Online learning is a growing trend in higher education nationwide. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the percentage of college students who were enrolled exclusively in online courses in fall 2017 grew to 15.4%, from 14.7% in 2016. In addition, 43% of undergraduate students took at least one online course in the 2015-16 academic year, up from 32% four years earlier.

WSU has been a leader in online higher education for more than 25 years. It launched its first distance degree program in 1992 and was one of the first public universities to recognize the potential of online education. In 2020, WSU Global Campus was ranked among the nation’s best online undergraduate programs by U.S. News & World Report.

“I’m sure that I speak for both Debbie and myself in expressing our pride in WSU Global Campus and its outstanding leadership, faculty, staff, and students,” said Van de Vord. “We’re honored to be given this opportunity and are grateful that university leadership is continuing to demonstrate how much they understand the impact and value of online learning, especially as we look to WSU’s future.”