Students Set Sail At Wayland

Wednesday - October 01, 2008
By Kerry Miller
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Rather than waiting for students to come through its doors, Wayland Baptist University brings education to where students are. The Aiea campus even holds classes for military personnel who are at sea, making education possible on the open ocean.

For several years now, WBU Hawaii has sent professors aboard Coast Guard cutters to deliver general education courses to the crew in two-week sessions through its Afloat Program. So far this summer, the Coast Guard cutter Jarvis set sail with WBU’s Pamela Lucas teaching history aboard. It was her first time at sea.

“I’m always sitting on pier when my husband leaves,” said Lucas. “He’s been in the Navy for 24 years. This was my first time, and it was awesome. I’m supposed to go back. My class is still doing work via computer.”

The program is primarily with the Coast Guard, said Steven Reid, executive director and dean of WBU Hawaii, and professors are aboard for two weeks at the most, instructing classes daily during that period.

“It’s tough for a professor to get used to a ship when you don’t have your sea legs,” Reid said. “The cutters are very small, (and) sometimes the seas get so rough, they Velcro themselves in the bed at night. We started this several years ago, and periodically when they go out they ask us to go.”

WBU professors soon will head for American Samoa, Tahiti and the Marshall Islands aboard the Coast Guard cutter Rush.

“What a great opportunity - Not only can they learn a trade, they’re also beginning to start their college career,” Reid said. “You realize the vastness of the Pacific Ocean when you’re out there. I’ve been hundreds of miles away from civilization at one time, but it’s beautiful.”

He said that the university is happy with the program so far, and students can take courses in-person as well as online. “The No. 1 quality working with the Coast Guard is flexibility. We accommodate them any way that we can. Good news for teachers is the people on the ship like to make them feel like they are part of the crew,” he said.

A satellite campus of the main Wayland Baptist University based in Plainview, Texas, the Hawaii college opened in 1979. It is now one of 13 campuses worldwide, including locations in the southwestern United States, Alaska and Kenya, among others. For details, visit them online at

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