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Pat James

The California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI) is pleased to announce that it has selected Pat James as its new executive director.

Pat comes to the OEI with extensive experience in online education courses and programs, and numerous projects statewide as well as hands-on experience as a first-generation community college student. She started her higher-education path at the City College of San Francisco, earned an associate degree at Cañada College and then transferred to the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Pat holds a master’s degree in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University, a fully online institution. She has also taught junior high and high school grade levels.


Serving Students and Giving Back to the System

Pat said her appointment “is about giving back to the state and the California college system that took care of me.” She has a strong focus on serving students. “I am passionate about making sure that the same work we do in the face-to-face world at California’s community colleges is done online with our students,” she explained. “We will be a nurturing, developmental ground for our students online just as we are for traditional, face-to-face students.”

Wide-Ranging Career in Distance Ed

Pat has wide-ranging knowledge and a highly distinguished career in online education, having led distance education program planning and implementation efforts at more than a dozen colleges, including Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) in California. In 2008 she received the CCC Chancellor’s Office Technology Innovator of the Year Award.

A noted pioneer in online teaching, Pat taught Multimedia Production and Interactive Media online and face-to-face courses for seven years, and was Dean of Library, Technology and Distance Education at MSJC. She started the MSJC Technology, Teaching and Learning Professional Development Academy program, which now serves 500 participant faculty and staff annually. In 2011 the program received the CCC Chancellor’s Office Technology Innovative Project Award.

Pat was also instrumental in designing California’s @ONE Online Teacher Certification Program. She has served as a California Virtual Campus mentor, on the Academic Senate for the CCC Executive Committee, as Chair of the ASCCC Technology Committee, on the Distance Education and Technology Advisory Committee (DETAC now ETAC), on the Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Committee (TTAC), and on the System Architecture Committee. She was co-director of the CCC@ONE Professional Development project in 2009-11 and in 2013, and she led and helped create the CCC Distance Education Coordinators organization. Her work in planning and implementation of the CCC Online Teaching Conference has resulted in the continuation of a vibrant conference held every June in a hybrid format.

In addition, Pat was recently the lead designer and grant writer for “Crafting an Effective Writer,” Coursera’s first community college Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Her efforts resulted in MSJC receiving a Gates Foundation grant that allowed for the development of a basic writing course that, in two sessions, has served more than 90,000 students across the globe. She has been part of the MOOC Research Initiative through the Gates Foundation and presented at the Post-Secondary Policy Institute in Washington, DC, in April 2014.

‘Amazing Opportunity’

Pat also assisted in the development of the successful OEI grant proposal. “The reason I got into distance education to begin with,” she said, “was to make sure we do the right thing here. As a system we have been doing for-credit online courses for longer than most institutions, and we have done it in a very big way with very little funding and very little attention and support. Now, thanks to the Governor’s Office and the state legislature, we have the support we need. This is going to be an amazing opportunity to bring together all that we know and share it across the state and beyond.”

“We had an extraordinary pool of candidates for the executive director position, and we have clearly selected an extraordinary CCC online education trailblazer to head up this critical initiative,” said Joe Moreau, executive sponsor of the OEI. “I am confident we will thrive under Pat’s leadership.”

About the CCC OEI

The California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative is supported by a five-year, $57 million California Governor’s Office grant that launched in December 2013. The OEI’s goal is to dramatically increase the number of California Community Colleges students who obtain associate degrees and transfer to four-year colleges each year by providing online courses and services within a statewide CCC Online Education system. It is being managed by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District and the Butte-Glenn Community College District in collaboration with community college education professionals from the entire state. For more information, visit

Sandoval Chagoya is the TechEDge Executive Editor, Director of Outreach and Communications for the Online Education Initiative, and a Project Manager for the
California Community Colleges Technology Center and the California Virtual Campus.