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American Public University System Appoints Dr. Vernon Smith as Provost

Online Learning Pioneer to Extend Commitment to Academic Quality, Student Outcomes as Successor
to Dr. Karan Powell

APUS appoints Dr. Vernon Smith provost

Charles Town, WV – Sept. 27, 2016 – American Public University System (APUS) today announced the appointment of Dr. Vernon C. Smith as senior vice president and provost, effective November 1, 2016. He succeeds long-time APUS Provost and current President Dr. Karan Powell.

Dr. Smith was formerly vice provost of distributed learning and associate professor of the Benerd School of Education for the University of the Pacific. In his new role reporting to Dr. Powell, he will primarily be responsible for ongoing initiatives focused on learning outcomes assessment, program development, and faculty recruitment and development. He will also focus on innovation advancement initiatives for faculty and curriculum.

“We are very pleased to have someone of Dr. Smith’s stellar qualifications join APUS,” said Dr. Powell.  “He brings an extensive background in online learning issues and practices, including effective quality, assessment, and retention strategies in higher education. He was also an early adopter in using big data for predictive modeling and teaching excellence to promote student success. I look forward to working closely with him and senior academics leadership to help ensure that our curriculum is rigorous, engaging, and career-relevant.”

“I am truly honored to join an institution already well-known for its ongoing innovation in delivering quality online education” said Dr. Smith. “It is particularly meaningful that my appointment coincides with the university’s inauguration ceremonies for Dr. Powell.”

At University of the Pacific, Dr. Smith led digital and adult learning initiatives, including oversight of the Center for Professional and Continuing Education, Center for Teaching and Learning, and support for hybrid and on-ground programs and faculty on the Sacramento and San Francisco campuses.  Prior to assuming that position, he oversaw the successful launch of Portmont College at Mount St. Mary's, Los Angeles (now MSMU Online) through MyCollege Foundation, where he served as founding chief academic officer and provost.

Dr. Smith previously served as vice president of academic affairs at Rio Salado College, the nation’s largest public online community college. In his over two decades with the institution, he served as dean of instruction overseeing institutional effectiveness, strategic planning, accreditation, and early-college programs. As faculty chair for foreign languages, he was a pioneer in online language courses and programs, and also served as faculty senate president.

Dr. Smith was recently elected to the Executive Council of WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) part of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for ELI (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) and served on the EDUCAUSE Board of Directors. In addition, he served on both the membership and data working groups for Transparency by Design, a national higher education accountability initiative of which APUS was a founding member. His research interests include high-quality, cost-effective production models for online courses, the unbundling and re-bundling of the faculty role, adjunct faculty issues, academic integrity, and teaching and learning.

Dr. Smith earned his BA in Latin American Studies and Spanish from Brigham Young University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He has a Master of Organizational Behavior from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young, and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Organization and Administration of Higher Education from the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona. In addition, he received the Dolores Brown Award from Arizona chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Administrator of the Year Hallmark Award from Phi Theta Kappa, and has been recognized for outstanding teaching, presentations and service, including the Homer Sarasohn Award for Meritorious Service. 

About American Public University System

American Public University System, recipient of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education and four-time recipient of the OLC Effective Practice Award, offers more than 190 online degree and certificate programs through American Military University and American Public University. More than 65,000 alumni worldwide have benefited from APUS's relevant curriculum, affordability, and flexibility in pursuing and earning degrees in such areas as business, information technology, and security and global studies. For further information, visit

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Brian Muys

Brian Muys

Associate VP Public Relations