Deborah K. LaPointe was a beloved student and faculty member in the Organization, Information & Learning Sciences (OILS) program when it was known as OLIT. She had a passion for distance learning, and her exceptional contributions as a pioneer in the field continue to make an impact. The Deborah K. LaPointe endowed scholarship was made possible through the generous support of Donald Fischer, who created the fund in 2009, after LaPointe's passing. This scholarship was established to commemorate her work and to support doctoral students in the OILS program, particularly those studying distance learning.
Fischer shared, "I did it because she and I were good friends, and she was an inspiration to everyone she came in contact with: faculty, students, and colleagues alike. I felt when she passed, her memory deserved preservation.”
LaPointe's memory has been preserved and continues to live on through her annual endowed scholarship award. OILS Ph.D. students, Monica Dorame and Austin C. Megli, were the recipients of the 2019 Deborah K. LaPointe scholarship.
Dorame states, "I am honored to be a recipient of the Deborah K. LaPointe scholarship. This opportunity will allow me to focus on my field of study, and to continue and further my educational experiences through conferences, workshops, field-work, and learning tools in distance education. As a lifelong learner and educator, I have seen the challenges and struggles that learners face in this ever-expanding world of technology and the increase in distance education. My passion is to work with the Native American community where distance learning is increasing more and more.”
Megli says, "This scholarship will help enable me to pursue my research interests in distance education. I plan to use it to enroll in more courses and to begin working and planning my dissertation. I hope to create a distance learning course for tribal advocacy programs throughout New Mexico. It is an honor to carry on Dr. LaPointe’s passion for academic research and to further her work in distance education.”
Fischer has had a remarkable career; he served in the army for 30 years, an experience which helped him to recognize the potential of distance learning through technology. After completing his service, he enrolled in The University of New Mexico to pursue his Ph.D. in OILS in 1993.
He speaks highly of the OILS curriculum and reported that he was able to gain a robust understanding of learning theory and emerging technology through the program. He fondly recalled additional OILS professors who made a significant impact on his life, several of them are still active faculty in the program and others have gone on to new pursuits: Patsy Boverie, Lani Gunawardena, Bob Grassberger and Mark Salisbury.
In 2005, Fischer went on to serve as provost for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) and credits OILS for much of his success. During his tenure, he implemented cutting-edge classroom technologies and learning theories, which helped to transform DLIFLC into the world’s foremost foreign language education and training institution. Fischer reported regularly using concepts he learned in OILS while working to achieve their mission.
"Completing my Ph.D. in OILS prepared me to go back to the Defense Language Institute and become provost."
Fischer is a valued member of the Lobo family and continues to stay involved with OILS. He recently had the opportunity to visit campus where he met this year’s recipients of the Deborah K. LaPointe scholarship.
“It was wonderful to meet Monica and Austin, who are continuing the work the OILS faculty started so long ago and having results. We (leaders in OILS) are seeing the field turn into something greater as the younger people pick up on what we do, and expand upon our work. I am pleased to see Dr. LaPointe’s scholarship continuing to make an impact”