UPCEA Recognizes the 2024 Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable and Distance Teaching & Learning Conference Award Recipients

April 18, 2024

7 Individuals Receive Honors

WASHINGTON (April 18, 2024) – UPCEA, the online and professional education association, is pleased to recognize the recipients of this year’s online and distance education awards. 

Award recipients will be honored at the 2024 Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable (SOLA+R) and Distance Teaching & Learning Conference (DT&L), July 22-24 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. SOLA+R and DT&L are again co-located this year, and bring together all the elements of the online enterprise in a holistic way for a comprehensive learning experience.

“With this being the 10th anniversary of the Summit, and the 40th anniversary of the Distance Teaching & Learning conference, having two awards, the Schroeder and Wedemeyer that acknowledge leadership in online learning feels like the last act in a coming of age story for online learning,” said Julie Uranis, Senior Vice President of Online and Strategic Initiatives for UPCEA. “Our campuses require leadership as they continue their digital transformation and look to leaders in online and professional education for their expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. Our award recipients are excellent advocates for access, affordability, and accessibility.”  

“The recipients of this year’s Wedemeyer and Schullo awards stand as beacons of excellence in our work,” said Wendy Fritz, Executive Director for Teaching & Learning, Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “These prestigious accolades recognize practitioners who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, innovation, and impact in the field of distance education. Their efforts embody the spirit of inclusivity, student-centeredness, and transformative learning.”

The recipients of this year’s awards are as follows:

Ray Schroeder Leadership Award for the Advancement of Digital Learning

The Ray Schroeder Leadership Award for the Advancement of Digital Learning recognizes the lifetime achievements and professionalism of online and digital learning practitioners. Awardees have had long and distinguished careers, advancing the cause of online and digital learning in postsecondary education. Award recipients have elevated the field, advanced scholarship, demonstrated intellectual curiosity, and embodied a pioneering spirit, through both academic and more publicly available publications, research, advocacy, and mentorship. The award is not necessarily given each year. 

Recipient: Paul LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire University


The Mildred B. and Charles A. Wedemeyer Award for Outstanding Writer/Scholar in Distance Education

The Mildred B. and Charles A. Wedemeyer Award for Outstanding Writer/Scholar in Distance Education honors those who build on the legacy of pioneers in the distance-education field. The award honors Professor Charles Wedemeyer—scholar, researcher and distance education innovator—who led a distinguished career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Continuing and Vocational Education. A scholar before his time, Dr. Wedemeyer recognized the strengths of multimedia approaches and helped others to see how media attributes could be assessed and utilized to maximize learning outcomes.

The award also carries the name of his life partner, Mildred. While Charles wanted to recognize outstanding distance-education scholars, based on contributions to the research literature in the field of distance education and training, Mildred believed that practitioners also deserved recognition. For this reason, the award has a dual focus, recognizing in alternate years outstanding distance education scholars and practitioners. This year’s award is focused contributions made by practitioners through action-oriented or applied research, based on the most compelling contributions to the field of knowledge. Wedemeyer Award recipients receive a modest honorarium, processed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, from the Wedemeyer endowment.


Vickie Cook, University of Illinois-Springfield

Cristi Ford, D2L


Shauna Schullo Award for Best Distance Teaching Practices

Between 2007 and 2009, Shauna Schullo was the Director of the Distance Education Certificate Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as the Workshop Chair for the 2009 Distance Teaching & Learning Conference. After we lost Shauna to breast cancer in 2009, the Schullo Award for Best Distance Teaching Practices was created, which recognizes DT&L presenters whose sessions contribute significantly to the practice of distance education.

The Schullo Award recipient is selected from the presentations given at the prior year’s Distance Teaching & Learning conference. 

Recipients: “Lifting All Boats: Leveraging a Dual Enrollment Initiative to Beautifully Redesign Online Gen Ed Courses and Elevate the Student Experience,” Asim Ali and Shawndra Bowers, Auburn University


UPCEA Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award

The UPCEA Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award recognizes an institution of higher education (i.e. campus, system, or consortium) that has, at an institutional level, set and met innovative goals focused on online education and been strategic in the planning, development, implementation and sustainability in line with the institutional mission. Examples include authentic institutional online organizational structure, partnership models to achieve specific goals, maximizing resource efficiencies, improving the learning experience for faculty and students, or the use of technology and learning design to advance online education and address institutional goals. The award recognizes an institution (broadly defined) that has achieved excellence and innovation in strategies used to meet goals and objectives focused on online education.

Recipient: KSU Course Quality Management Model, Kennesaw State University


UPCEA Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design

Instructional Design is necessary for the development of engaging quality teaching and learning experiences across a wide variety of modalities and contexts. The UPCEA Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design Award recognizes outstanding service to the field of instructional design in one or more of the following areas: modeling and disseminating research (via workshops, webinars, conferences, papers, etc.), best practices, innovative methods, and/or mentorship, all for the betterment of the instructional design community. This award celebrates the connective power of instructional design professionals within the learning design process, chiefly their role in highlighting the critical need for educators of all roles to work in partnership in support of student success.

Recipient: Jessica White, North Carolina State University 


The Ray Schroeder Leadership Award for the Advancement of Digital Learning, the UPCEA Strategic Innovation in Online Education Award, and the UPCEA Outstanding Service in Postsecondary Instructional Design are part of UPCEA’s Association Awards program. Nominations for Association Awards are accepted in October/November, and recipients are selected and notified the following February.  


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UPCEA is the online and professional education association. Our members continuously reinvent higher education, positively impacting millions of lives. We proudly lead and support them through cutting edge research, professional development, networking and mentorship, conferences and seminars, and stakeholder advocacy. Our collaborative, entrepreneurial community brings together decision makers and influencers in education, industry, research, and policy interested in improving educational access and outcomes. Learn more about us at and follow us on online @UPCEA.



Molly Nelson, UPCEA Vice President of Communications, [email protected]



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