CORVALLIS, Ore. - The dean of Oregon State University's Extended Campus for the past six years is retiring after a long and illustrious academic career in Texas and Alaska as well as in Oregon, OSU leaders announced today.

William T. McCaughan joined OSU in 2000 to serve as dean of "Ecampus," as it is known throughout the university. Ecampus has expanded significantly under McCaughan's leadership and now provides online, undergraduate and graduate degree programs that include more than 300 courses in 40 subject areas to some 10,000 students each year. Through its OSU K-12 Online program, it also offers college and high school classes.

OSU's Summer Session program, also part of Ecampus, has seen considerable increase in student enrollment and student credit hours under McCaughan's leadership. Ecampus is now pursuing additional summer outreach programs through partnerships with other educational institutions, including many of Oregon's community colleges.

McCaughan has also worked with Oregon's nine federally recognized Indian tribes to develop an Oregon Tribal College, an initiative now in the planning stages and moving toward implementation. The new tribal college would be one of the most innovative in North America and a new land-grant institution.

"Bill's visionary guidance of our Ecampus programs has made high-quality higher education available to thousands of individuals whose location or time commitments would have previously precluded them from such an experience," said Sabah Randhawa, provost and executive vice president of OSU. "He transformed a unit that lacked focus and direction into one that is now considered to be a solid, highly regarded component of OSU's educational offerings.

"We are deeply indebted to Bill for the commitment and focus he brought to this position and for his foresight in establishing an innovative budget model for Ecampus programs, as well as programs to support faculty research in distance education. He's been a pleasure for us all to work with."

McCaughan earned bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Abilene Christian University in Texas before earning a second master's and a doctorate in adult and higher education from Columbia University in New York. His subsequent work at Texas Tech University included stints as vice provost for outreach and extended studies and a similar post at the university's Health Sciences Center.

McCaughan will officially step down this fall. In the meantime, OSU will conduct a national search for a replacement - an effort to be chaired by Scott Reed, dean and director of the OSU Extension Service.

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Sabah Randhawa,