Back in 2018, LSU could never have predicted how fortuitous a decision it was to hire Sasha Thackaberry.
The university had recruited 2021 Influential Woman in Business Sasha Thackaberry, a noted online learning pioneer, to broaden its distance learning portfolio, a strategy that would deliver Louisianans and out-of-state students convenient options for completing degrees, individual courses and professional certifications. Thackaberry had a sterling reputation in the field, having helped scale Southern New Hampshire University’s online learning infrastructure to a national level, and introducing e-learning systems to Ohio’s Cuyahoga Community College, with more than 26,000 students.
At LSU, Thackaberry hit the ground running, modernizing the flagship university’s approach to online courses and degree options, adding concierge services to support new users and providing technical assistance to hesitant faculty who never imagined the importance of converting traditional classes to a virtual format.
The work helped give LSU a significant head start when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the university to reimagine operations.
Thackaberry and her team worked closely with university departments to ensure faculty could quickly shift their courses online, enabling students to continue learning without serious complications. It was a wartime effort, says Thackaberry, smoothed by two years’ worth of work already underway.
Pandemic aside, online platforms are now seen as game changers for higher education institutions, especially public ones like LSU.