Ashland University Partners with Smart Horizons Career Online Education to Launch Ashland Career Online High School

3/9/12 ASHLAND, OH -- Ashland University has partnered with Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE), based in Pensacola, Fla., to launch Ashland Career Online High School. The school will offer inmates in U.S. corrections facilities both an 18-credit high school diploma and a credentialed career certificate.


"We're excited about this partnership with SHCOE," said Dr. Frederick Finks, president of Ashland University. "It provides an excellent opportunity for Ashland University to build on its longstanding service to the correctional community." 


This new program, which is part of Ashland University’s Founders School of Continuing Education, is a collaboration with SHCOE that fulfills a need to work with a population that has been identified as needing more assistance to succeed, according to John Dowdell, director of Ashland University’s Gill Center Outreach.


"This is a symbiotic relationship in which each organization can build on the strengths of the other,” Dowdell said. “In addition to extending education opportunities, another goal of this partnership is to bring about a reduction in recidivism among prison inmates."


Both Dowdell and Dr. Howard Liebman, CEO and superintendent of SHCOE, see this partnership between SHCOE and Ashland University as a means of creating a seamless educational flow in the corrections space. 


Inmates will have the opportunity to earn their high school diplomas and career certificates through Ashland Career Online High School before moving on to post-secondary studies with Ashland University, all in preparation of being re-incorporated into communities as productive members of the workforce. 


"Ashland University has continued to build technological components into its delivery of educational programs to members of corrections systems and incorporating a career online high school is a natural next step in the process," Liebman said. 


"The Florida Department of Corrections recently announced its intent to award a contract to SHCOE for the provision of online career training and high school education services to Florida inmates," Liebman said. "Now, this partnership with Ashland University — a recognized leader in providing post-secondary education to prison populations — further expands SHCOE's role in the corrections space. Our goal is to provide online high school and career education to inmates in all 50 states around the United States. This is certainly another step in accomplishing that goal."


SHCOE ( became the world's first AdvancED/SACS accredited online school district in February of 2011. Career certificates available to SHCOE students include Childcare, Transportation Services, Office Management, Homeland Security, Protection Services and General Career Preparation. 


Because of its relationship with Advanced Systems Technology (AST), a business partner in the SHCOE district, SHCOE is also uniquely positioned to address security issues involved in providing online education programs to incarcerated populations. AST is a technology firm that has provided numerous solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Justice since 1984 and has delivered online training to over two million individuals. 


Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.