Meet HBU's Online Innovators

The News Magazine of HCU

College in the Cloud- Part 5

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When HBU President Dr. Robert B. Sloan convened a task force to study and develop an online program of international influence, one of the group’s firm convictions was to find experienced, successful Christian veterans to oversee the launch of the digital initiative once all the funds were raised. Enter Dr. Steve Peterson and Dr. Jay Spencer.

Peterson and Spencer have a combined total of nearly 50 years of experience in higher education, and are respected nationwide for their innovative approach in distance learning and online education. They grew an online program at Liberty University into one of the largest in the country with nearly 100,000 students.

The meeting with the task force was fortuitous and, clearly, the two embraced Dr. Sloan’s vision. In February, Peterson and Spencer joined HBU in newly created roles as vice president and associate vice president for online/digital learning, respectively. Here’s more about these innovators.

Jay Spencer, DMin

Pampell Online Division
Associate Vice President for Digital/
Online Operations

Dr. Jay Spencer is a strong proponent that the debate is settled that an online education offers comparable value to a bricks-and-mortar education. He asserts that the 21st century online model must be an option. “If we do not adapt to our students the way they wish to be communicated to, we are failing them.”

Spencer provides much expertise in his new role – having spent 30 years in higher education leadership, and 20 at Liberty University. He understands the importance of effective strategic planning, curriculum management and development, and emerging technologies that can support a digital/online learning institution. He also has served as a consultant for several nonprofit organizations and universities.

A father of four and grandfather “Poppy” to eight, Spencer has been married nearly 40 years to Freda, a neonatal nurse and an online adjunct instructor. He actively serves his church and community and enjoys time with his family, playing golf and reading.

Steve Peterson, EdD

Pampell Onine Division

Vice President for Online/Digital Learning

A native of the Philadelphia area, Dr. Steve Peterson was raised in a single-parent home with six siblings. As a youngster, his mom emphasized education as a key that unlocks future opportunity. His pastor suggested attending a university with strong academics as well as a scriptural and theological basis. Peterson chose Liberty University.

He married his wife, Faith, during college, and they worked while pursuing bachelor’s degrees. Several years later, he experienced online education firsthand, earning an MBA and a doctorate in educational leadership while working and raising five children. Online education serves a market group that, otherwise, couldn’t attend a university.

Peterson worked for his alma mater for 22 years, serving in financial aid, followed by the chancellor’s office and internal marketing. In 2010, he was tasked with running a large admissions division for Liberty’s growing online program.

Aside from his family, Peterson enjoys playing golf and volunteering in his church and  community.

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