Harkless named director of Auburn Engineering Online and Continuing Education

Published: Mar 20, 2024 8:55 AM

By Karen Hunley

Alicia Harkless has been named as Auburn University’s director of Engineering Online and Continuing Education, effective March 13.

Harkless previously served as acting director of the unit since June 2023. Prior to that, she served as the instructional designer since 2019.

As director, Harkless will work with her team to develop and implement strategic plans for recruitment and marketing of online and continuing education courses, equipment purchasing and facilities planning; oversee administrative functions; and represent the college on university committees and external industry associations. As part of her new role, she will maintain her instructional designer duties, such as ensuring quality control of online courses; researching and implementing new instructional methods, equipment and policies; and providing faculty support for software such as Canvas and video platform Panopto.

 “Alicia has done an exceptional job as instructional designer for Engineering Online, and we are fortunate to have someone with her pedigree take on this role,” said Mario Eden, dean of engineering. “I am confident that her extensive online course building and technical support experience will translate to the continued success and growth of our online programs under her leadership.”

Harkless has 17 years of experience in her field, including the last five years with Auburn Engineering Online. Before coming to the Plains, she served five years as assistant director of educational technology at Troy University, where she helped develop a multi-faceted program of technology outreach, engagement and support for both faculty and students. She also has more than 10 years of online teaching experience.

She earned master’s degrees in public administration and post-secondary education from Troy University before earning her doctorate in adult education from Auburn University in 2021.

“My primary goal as director is to use the phenomenal reputation of Auburn to grow the Engineering Online program and support the excellent work our staff is doing every day to meet the needs of the adult learner,” she said.

With her extensive background in instructional design and educational technology, Harkless is passionate about making online learning the best experience possible for both students and faculty.

“The online education landscape has changed, and so too have the people who want to take online courses,” she said. “We have to consider the human factor. There is no one size fits all solution to online learning, but we can make the experience better through simple collaboration of what technology tools can be used to meet a learning objective or by completely building a course using sound pedagogical techniques and best online practices.”

Harkless looks forward to the opportunity of growing the online graduate engineering program that is ranked as the 19th best in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

“This job is the perfect mix of all the things that bring me joy,” she said. “It allows me to cultivate relationships, leverage technology, be creative and problem-solve.”

Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering offers 32 fully online graduate programs, including 16 master’s degrees and 16 graduate certificates, as well as professional development courses. These programs allow working engineers to expand their skill set and pursue new career paths without putting their career on hold.

Media Contact: Karen Hunley, kam0003@auburn.edu, 334-844-2224
Alicia Harkless poses outdoors.

Alicia Harkless was recently named director of Engineering Online and Continuing Education

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