It’s also a tremendous boost to the school that scored this huge new student body.

ASU has about 75,000 students – 10,000 of them in online programs – and is becoming one of the West’s academic powerhouses. It’s significant that Starbucks turned to ASU, rather than the comparatively gargantuan California State University or University of California, both of which are still reeling economically and spiritually from the recession.

“Arizona State is the only university that could stand side-by-side with Starbucks to offer a high-quality education, at scale, to all of our U.S. partners,” Starbucks spokesperson Jaime Riley wrote in an email to The Bee in response to the question: Why ASU? “Plus, ASU is ranked the second-most innovative school in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and ranks 5th in the U.S. in producing the best-qualified graduates.”

What that means is that the school can handle the influx of what is expected to be 4,000 to 15,000 new applicants this fall.

Philip Regier, executive vice provost and dean of online, told The Bee’s editorial board that the university has been preparing its online faculty for the onslaught. And ASU had already re-engineered business rules and processes that will help, such as significantly shortening the time from application to admission from six weeks to 48 hours. Also, it used to take as long as eight weeks for the university to determine whether a student’s credits transferred. That process takes about five days now.

But, more importantly, ASU is a school already committed to the promises of online education and expanding the access to higher education well beyond the borders of its own state.

“We are very aggressively focusing on inclusion, not because we want to be big,” Regier said, “but the problems are massive.”

However this particular partnership fares, we expect that it will bring a new national prominence to ASU as one of the West’s most interesting universities.

©2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.). Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services


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