A steady diet of hard work and determination has allowed a State University College at Oneonta professor to be nationally recognized for her management of an online graduate program.
Jennifer L. Bueche, of West Edmeston, is an associate professor in Food and Nutrition in SUNY Oneonta’s Department of Human Ecology. She also serves as Director of the college’s Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics program, which is online.
Bueche said receiving the Pearson 2014 Cite Award for Excellence in Online Administration was “a wonderful surprise.”
The unique, combined Master’s Degree and Dietetic Internship Program, which Bueche helped launch in 2008, is viewed as an exemplary graduate program and has been “very successful,” she said.
In order to take the test to become a Registered Dietitian, graduate students must complete 1,220 supervised practice hours, Bueche said. SUNY Oneonta’s one-year intensive program allows them to complete those required hours during an internship in their home communities.
At the same time, students complete 36 hours of online graduate courses and graduate with a Master’s Degree after one year, Bueche said. About 20 students are enrolled in the program each year.
With the overseeing of students, their internship preceptors, an online forum and online classes, Bueche has a lot to do.
“This kind of national award really is reflective of what it takes to administer a program like this,” Bueche said. “Sometimes there’s a bias towards online learning, that it’s not of the same quality, but to have your work acknowledged by outside peers shows what a high quality program it is. It means a lot.”
Bueche said she didn’t realize she had been nominated for the award, but found out she was one of two recipients nation-wide in March.
The combined master’s and internship program was up for re-accreditation this fall, Bueche said. During the campus visit, reviewers said wonderful things about the program and about Bueche. Her nomination was a result of this visit.
“We’re way ahead of the curve,” Bueche said, “and at the cutting edge because we want to make sure our students are well prepared. We have a 100 percent job placement rate.”
Along with Bueche’s award, Pearson, the largest education company and book publisher in the world, will donate $1,500 to the scholarship fund of her choice.
Bueche said she has dreamed about being able to give a scholarship to one of the dietetic graduate students since she started the Master’s program six years ago. This year, one incoming graduate student intern, with particular enthusiasm for the field, will receive the scholarship.
“My passion is to help students get where they wanna go,” Bueche said. “I was a dietitian before I decided I wanted to teach and I’ve been here for 17 years. These students have dreams and goals and I just really want to help them get there.”
SUNY Oneonta’s director of communications, Hal Legg, said the college is proud of Bueche and her national recognition.
Although she has heard rumors of a trophy coming her way, Bueche’s award was not accompanied by any monetary prizes, other than the ability to donate a scholarship, which was enough for her, she said.
“It was really wonderful just to be recognized,” Bueche said. “With online programs, other people don’t see your students, but they work so hard. I’m so delighted that we could receive this.”