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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Chattanooga’s Annie DeBauche is reluctant to call herself a pioneer, but her graduation Saturday marks a new era for the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Distance Learning Program.

 DeBauche will be the first distance-learning graduate from UT-Knoxville’s College of Communications and the first UT student to earn a degree through interactive video courses.

 “I don’t feel I’m special because I’m the first,” DeBauche said, “but I hope that my doing it gives hope to other people who are in school and working full-time that it can be done.”

 DeBauche earned a master’s degree in communications through courses taught at UT-Knoxville and linked via interactive video to classes at UT-Chattanooga.

 Hers is one of 1,660 degrees to be awarded Saturday at UT-Knoxville’s fall commencement. The program begins at 9 a.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena. UT President Joe Johnson will confer the degrees.

 Dr. Herb Howard, associate dean for graduate studies in communications, said 12 students are enrolled in the UT-Knoxville communications master’s program in Chattanooga, which began in 1995. Others are sampling interactive video classes as non-degree students, he said.

 “We’re happy to see our first graduate,” Howard said. “The program is progressing very nicely. We expect the number of distance learning graduates to continue to grow each year.”

 David Holden, UT-Knoxville director of distance education and independent study, said distance learning programs at UT-Knoxville also include videotape, Internet and correspondence courses. DeBauche is the first to earn a degree through interactive video classes, he said.

 Holden said about 600 students took classes in UT-Knoxville distance education programs in communications, information sciences, social work, engineering and human resources development in 1996.


 Contact: Annie DeBauche (423-763-7175) or Dr. Herb Howard (423-974-6651)