Chris LaBelle received his EdD in Educational Technology from Boise State University and brings 15 years of experience in higher education and online learning. Prior to joining academia, LaBelle began his career developing employee e-learning and onsite training programs for Siemens and Netflix. With LaBelle’s hire, this position also becomes part of the Dean’s Cabinet.
Chris LaBelle joined Nexus as Executive Director of Online & Professional Education on April 18, 2022. Nexus is excited to welcome Chris to the team. We are grateful to Pat Hammett for his leadership as interim director during this transition. Learn a little about Chris and his goals in the Q&A that follows.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT IN YOUR NEW ROLE?
Chris: First, I’m excited to become a community member of an elite public university like the University of Michigan that can draw on its tremendous resources to pursue socially impactful initiatives on a local and global scale. As I’ve watched how climate change has been impacting water resources, tourism, agriculture, health and migration patterns in Colorado where I currently live, I’ve developed a strong awareness of how integral technology, especially engineering, has become in relation to solving large-scale global challenges.
More locally, I’m thrilled that the College has taken on a leadership role with the new Detroit Center for Innovation. I’m eager to work closely with my new colleagues to support the expansion of educational offerings for that new collaboration, and to leverage our office’s contacts and resources to help create new jobs in the regional workforce.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
Chris: Because online and continuing education programs have typically focused on the needs of nontraditional students across different modalities, I’ve always been passionate about innovation. More specifically, I’ve been very interested in what types of systems, organizational culture and resources allow and accelerate change and how those changes can support the needs of nontraditional students. In addition to innovation and change management, I’ve always been deeply interested in how online learning differs from face-to-face or residential learning and how the discipline of instructional design informs online and hybrid pedagogy.
GIVE US YOUR OVERVIEW OF HOW YOUR OFFICE SERVES THE MICHIGAN ENGINEERING COMMUNITY.
Chris: Although there are many different continuing education resources available to engineers and other professionals, Nexus differentiates itself by drawing on our accomplished faculty and industry partners to develop our online and face-to-face programs. Our office aspires to serve not only Michigan-based engineers but also the larger community of lifelong learners who work beyond our state and national borders.
Because the scope of our activity is so broad and aspires to impact each phase of a professional’s career, we focus on many different domains beyond just classroom- or degree-based learning—what we refer to as the “nexus” or intersection of career advancement, professional networking, social corporate responsibility, and lifelong learning.