Founded in Maryland as Villa Julie College in 1947, Stevenson University (coined 2008) is a private university located in Baltimore County, Maryland, that offers master’s, bachelor’s and certificate programs for working professionals through its in-person and online programs.
With a strong focus on identifying tools to virtually extend and advance classroom connectivity in higher education, Stevenson needed a better way to facilitate its first-rate distance learning and enhance university-wide communication across its two campuses and approximately 3,615 undergrad and grad students.
This led former Chief Information Officer Steve Engorn to set his sights on finding “a tool to communicate with everyone.” The result of his search for a premier video conferencing software platform would be broader program offerings and easier accessibility for students and professors alike—regardless of their endpoint or location.
While Stevenson had been using WebEx for internal collaboration, users encountered ongoing limitations, including the lack of a single sign-on feature, attendee join restrictions (which was a logistical nightmare for organizers) and the inability to record.
Following a successful six month trial period of BlueJeans in 2009, Engorn, in tandem with faculty, department chairs and program coordinators, began the roll out of BlueJeans Meetings across Stevenson University Online—formally known as Stevenson’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies. During this phase, Engorn used a second device to evaluate the experience from the students’ vantage point and found BlueJeans to be easy to use and easy to integrate across the board.
Prior to being introduced to students, BlueJeans was used internally for recurring faculty and academic meetings. Initially, this meant sending emails to attendees with instructions on how to join. Early meetings involved demonstrations on features like screen sharing and recording. Attendees picked it up quickly, resulting in a seamless transition to the new meetings platform. Now, hundreds of faculty members and many students use BlueJeans every month.
As the brainchild of Stevenson’s former president—who envisioned broader course offerings and easier student accessibility— Stevenson’s online program allows working students to earn degrees. The goal was to provide online courses for every program. According to Engorn, “that’s where BlueJeans really flourished.” With BlueJeans, professors teach while students attend class from anywhere, using the device or endpoint of their choice.
With the support of the BlueJeans' customer team, one professor was able to hold her residency program in Stevenson’s distance learning classroom (outfitted with a traditional Polycom endpoint) while hosting a guest speaker who was located in Guantanamo Bay. The guest speaker shared PowerPoint slides with the class and engaged them in interactive discussions, just as if she were standing in front of the class. This dynamic really enhanced her residency and marked the first time a Stevenson professor livestreamed a class through the Polycom platform.
BlueJeans’ support team has been so impressive that students are encouraged to call if they encounter difficulties. Versatile and easy to access, BlueJeans now connects students and professors for biology, forensic science, and coding classes, as well as faculty orientation, Board of Trustee meetings, career service appointments, summer abroad student coordination, and even commencement for those unable to travel. In some instances, professors record lectures or virtual lab demonstrations for easy playback. Increasing faculty to student engagement in online courses helped Stevenson get named a “Best Value School” in the 2020 U. S. News Best Colleges Rankings.
“BlueJeans has been really helpful, in every way possible, to make meetings easy to use, easy to integrate, and more effective, so we don’t have to worry about the technical side,” — Steve Engorn, former CIO, Stevenson University