The New England Board of Higher Education recently presented Plymouth State University Director of Learning and Libraries Robin DeRosa with the New England Higher Education Excellence Award at the New Hampshire Legislative Office Building in Concord, New Hampshire. The award was bestowed on DeRosa in 2020, but its presentation was delayed to May 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeRosa, who oversees PSU’s Lamson Library and Learning Commons, was recognized for her achievements as a pioneer in instructional design and an advocate for open learning, interdisciplinary, student-centered pedagogy and educational equity. In 2019, DeRosa founded the Open Learning and Teaching Collaborative (Open CoLab) at PSU to assist faculty members in creating better learning environments for their students through innovation and inclusivity. She continues to serve as director of the Open CoLab.
“I am truly humbled to be recognized, especially since so much of this work is shaped by the teams of people from across the University System of New Hampshire and the state who come together every day to focus on college affordability and equity,” DeRosa said. “There are many faculty and staff in New Hampshire higher education who are deeply concerned about the educational barriers that some of our students face, and I have been grateful for their partnership and energy, but above all, I am grateful to the students I work with who demonstrate such persistence and bravery in the face of the financial challenges of affording college in our state. I am proud to be stepping up to do better by the next generation of learners.”
DeRosa is one of the founders of the New Hampshire Open Education Consortium, which is made up of several colleges and universities committed to lowering barriers to learning materials for New Hampshire students. She is a highly sought-after higher education consultant who has brought her expertise in building more accessible, imaginative and student-centered programs to hundreds of institutions in the United States, Canada, Europe and Africa. Between 2009 and 2020, she published three books, The Making of Salem: The Witch Trials in History, Fiction, and Tourism; Simulation in Media and Culture: Believing the Hype; and Open at the Margins: Critical Perspectives on Open Education.
DeRosa previously served PSU as director of interdisciplinary studies for four years and as an English professor for 15 years.
“At Plymouth State University we are educating New Hampshire’s next generation of leaders, creators and problem solvers, but we’re also reimagining and reshaping higher education itself. Robin has been at the forefront of this transformation, driving innovation in what a college education is, who has access to it, and what it allows our students to do when they graduate,” said PSU Provost Nathaniel Bowditch. “Robin is an invaluable asset to PSU and our students, but she’s also shared openly with educators across the globe. She embodies our motto: Ut Prosim, ‘That I may serve.’”
Open education is an education equity philosophy and cost-saving strategy, which has saved PSU students and their families more than $1.7 million in textbook costs since embracing open education in 2015. It is also one of the key pillars to PSU’s pioneering Cluster Learning Model. Each year, a growing number of PSU faculty are creating openly licensed texts in place of commercial textbooks.