Regis University’s Higher Learning Partners Chosen to Unite University of Tennessee Campuses Online

The longtime leader in online learning expands its services to support more schools


Higher Learning Partners (HLP) at Regis University was selected by the University of Tennessee (UT) to create a platform to academically unite the statewide system’s four campuses, which serve a combined 50,000 students.

A longtime leader in providing online learning for non-traditional students, HLP helps other institutions develop their virtual and distance learning. It also provides inter-campus online course exchanges through its online course exchange, the Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities (OCICU), launched in 2005. OCICU has grown to include roughly 300 schools nationwide that share courses through an online marketplace.

The development of next-generation software, projections of future enrollment declines and the COVID-19 pandemic have combined to create unprecedented demand for the products and consulting services HLP provides.

“Online learning is one of the hotter subjects in higher education right now,” said Thomas Gilhooly, chief executive officer and executive director of HLP.

The UT system’s search for a way to develop a more robust online education system led them to HLP, said Karen Etzkorn, director of academic affairs for the University of Tennessee System.

“Regis was incredibly flexible and worked to meet the needs of our system and was able to offer a platform in a way that wasn’t one-size-fits-all,” Etzkorn said. “It was adapted for the UT system.”

Tennessee hopes to roll out the shared system with 10 mostly entry-level courses, and grow from there, she said. Students in any of UT’s four campuses, which are spread across the state, will be able to register online for any of the courses offered online, regardless of which location the course originates in.

The impact of the coronavirus on college enrollment, combined with demographic data showing the numbers of college-age students will soon start to decline, means tough times ahead for many universities. But Gilhooly believes course exchanges could soften the economic blow for many colleges and universities.

“I don’t know if this will save schools,” he said. “But it will definitely help schools come together to increase their retention and their graduation rates.”

“It’s revolutionary,” said Gilhooly, “and it all was founded here at Regis.”

Regis pioneered online learning beginning in the 1990s, at a time when dial-up modems and fuzzy connections were common. The University stuck with it, and so did students, particularly those trying to juggle jobs, families and education. “Regis is a believer in making lifelong learning available, and being open to educating all people,” Gilhooly said.

HLP brings that expertise to its work providing other colleges and universities with services that enable them to expand professional and continuing education programs, and through its consulting work with more than 100 higher education institutions. Its products are offered as an SaaS on a license.

To learn more about Higher Learning Partners and its services, contact 303.458.4929 or, or visit HLP’s website at

About Higher Learning Partners

To learn more about Higher Learning Partners (HLP) and its services, contact 303.458.4929 or, or visit HLP’s website

About Regis University

Established in 1877, Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. Regis University, one of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, has four campus locations in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs and extensive online program offerings with more than 8,000 enrolled students. For more information, visit