State Innovator in Higher Ed Open Educational Resources Joins Achieving the Dream

New Director Brings Virginia OER Expertise to ATD



Silver Spring, MD (March 16, 2016) – Dr. Karen A. Stout, President & CEO of Achieving the Dream, today announced Dr. Richard Sebastian, a state leader in instructional technology, will join Achieving the Dream (ATD) as Director, Open Educational Resources Degree Initiative. 

“Richard has been nothing short of a pioneer in leading the Virginia community college system to adopt and scale courses and degree programs using open educational resources,” said Dr. Stout. “His expertise means we can hit the ground running with our own effort to increase access and success, especially for underserved students, using open educational resources.”

Achieving the Dream’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative, announced February 25 at ATD’s annual DREAM conference in Atlanta, is a new effort to involve faculty in redesigning courses and degree programs using open educational resources with the goal of increasing college degree completion rates and access. The Initiative will enable between 20 and 30 community colleges, including both individual colleges and college systems in the US and Canada, to create new OER Degree programs.

“I am extremely excited to be joining Achieving the Dream to lead this effort to scale OER degrees,” says Dr. Sebastian, “In Virginia, I witnessed the potential this OER work has to not just reduce costs for students but also fundamentally transform teaching and learning. Imagine the impact when these efforts are expanded to institutions across North America as well as aligned to ATD’s successful strategic reform work.”

Dr. Sebastian joins ATD after serving as Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies in the Virginia Community College System. In that position, he was responsible for providing vision, leadership, and support for effective use of teaching and learning technologies at the system level and at the 23 colleges in the state.

He also served as the Principal Investigator of the Zx23 project, funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  The grant is helping to spread the innovative Z-Degree model, created by Tidewater Community College, to all community colleges in the state.  The Z-Degree as well as the Zx23 project are providing the models for ATD's national OER Degree Initiative.

Dr. Sebastian was a founding member of the Open Virginia Advisory Committee (OVAC), a committee created by the former Virginia Secretary of Education to investigate ways to reduce textbook costs for Virginia’s students. He founded several other task forces and committees with missions related to strengthening digital teaching and learning and reducing college costs through greater use of OER materials. Richard has been an adjunct and on-line community college instructor experienced in distance education, adult education, and admissions counseling. Richard is a frequent presenter on open educational resources and OER degrees and an enthusiastic blogger about OER and other educational topics. 

Media contact:

Lynn Reddy, Achieving the Dream
(240) 450-3830

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing equity gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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