Teaching at a Distance, Professor Excels

Adam Huffer
Communication Services
Oklahoma State University

(405) 744-6260


Camille DeYong, associate professor of industrial engineering and management, is shown accepting the Advancia Excellence in Distance Learning Award from Scott Pearson (left), vice president at Advancia Corporation, during OSU President James Halligan’s annual Fall Convocation at the beginning of the semester. The prize is one of two awards established in 1998 by the Lawton, Okla., company to acknowledge outstanding OSU faculty in the fields of distance learning and management information systems.

Service quality/customer satisfaction is an area Dr. Camille DeYong cites among her principal research interests. When the associate professor in OSU’s School of Industrial Engineering and Management instructs students on the methodologies that make an exacting science of quality improvement, her expertise therein comes across not only in what, but also how, she teaches.

DeYong, the 2002 Advancia Excellence in Distance Learning Award recipient who instructs courses for the Master of Sciences in Engineering and Technology Management program and National Technological University, says interaction between students and their instructor need not be sacrificed because of distance. In-studio or at a remote site, her students know to be prepared to contribute.

“I work hard at trying to involve all of them, whether by inviting them to call or send comments on e-mail, or encouraging discussion,” DeYong said. “Many of them ö not all ö still want that personal connection, and they want to be recognized.

“I’ve had distance students say, Îno one has ever called out my name in class,’ which just shocks me because they add wonderful commentary to your class and are highly, highly qualified people.”

For the second consecutive year, DeYong this summer was named an NTU Outstanding Instructor, a rank among the top 10 percent of the virtual university’s faculty as based on student evaluations. More than 300 professors at approximately 40 of the nation’s top schools such as Notre Dame, Purdue, Columbia, California, and Michigan as well as Big XII institutions Iowa State, Colorado, Kansas State and OSU instruct courses via the NTU satellite network.

All of DeYong’s MSETM and NTU students are pursuing graduate degrees while doubling as full-time professionals at companies such as IBM, Xerox, Hewlett-Packard, Williams, Halliburton, Seagate, FedEx and American Airlines. Teaching them the latest nuances of strategic quality leadership, engineering economy, benchmarking and quality control requires that she remains in the know.

“They’re unusually qualified, and they’re more concerned with learning than grades,” DeYong said. “Unlike on-campus students, they have a job; they don’t have to get a grade to get a job.”

“They really challenge you from an intellectual standpoint, as well as on practical issues,” she said. “You rarely get away with saying, research shows that·’”

As a judge for the Oklahoma Quality Award and examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, DeYong keeps informed of quality improvement practices that leading companies utilize. Managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology in close cooperation with the private sector, the Baldrige award is the highest level of national recognition for quality achievement a U.S. firm can receive. Its criteria are widely accepted as the standard for quality excellence in business performance, and to receive the honor, companies must undergo comprehensive reviews by experts from industry and academia.

Tapping her knowledge of the Baldrige award program, Bank of Oklahoma enlisted DeYong to spearhead a service quality project that began this month.

“Following deregulation and competition increases and the advent of Internet banking, financial institutions have to think about services or they’ll lose customers to other banks,” DeYong said. “The financial services group I’m working with wants to uncover new ways to improve performance and service quality and to measure customer satisfaction.

“They are interested in the methodology proposed by the Baldrige program because it’s a fairly complex, but well researched and tested mechanism for improving performance and achieving what the Baldrige office calls performance excellence.”

DeYong is also one of many OSU researchers active in the Defense Logistics Agency’s Computer Assisted Technology Transfer (CATT) program. She serves as faculty coordinator for OSU projects for CATT and is participating in one of its many individual studies. She and David Pratt, a fellow industrial engineering and management faculty member, and faculty and graduate students in electrical and computer engineering and statistics are conducting a project on forecasting aircraft part demand.

DeYong, who earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering and management from OSU, continues her family’s legacy here. Her father, Moses Frye, was the university’s legal counsel for many years, and her mother, Mary, was a member of the health and physical education faculty.

“It has been fun to follow them,” she says. “I got all three degrees here, and it has been wonderful to have the opportunity to stay in Stillwater.”

For information about this page, send e-mail to Adam Huffer.

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