Rob Bruce


Dr. Rob Bruce became director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Friday Center in 2011. Rob previously served as the associate dean for research and continuing innovative education at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin and his master’s and doctorate in English from Texas A&M University. Rob spends most of his non-work time reading, traveling to soccer and gymnastics events, and telling his three kids to get off their devices.

Tyler Ritter

Chief Operating Officer

Tyler was formerly director of communication and instructional design for the Friday Center. In her 30-year career, she has held key leadership positions in several advertising agencies. Tyler has a BA in communication studies from UNCG, and is nearing completion of an MA in technology and communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. Tyler grew up in the NC mountains and, second to sitting in front of a computer, feels most at home hiking in the woods.

Cici Sidor

Assistant Director of Instructional Design

Cici has worked in educational media and instructional design at UNC since 2002, at the Friday Center and on grant-funded research projects. She received a BS in technology education from NC State University and an MS in instructional technology from Eastern Carolina University. Cici specializes in the use of effective educational technologies and applied instructional strategies. Outside of work, she enjoys rescuing animals and renovating homes.

Persis Swift

Assistant Director of Marketing

Persis served as a segment marketing manager for ROI Revolution prior to joining the Carolina Office for Online Learning. She is an experienced marketer with a background in strategic planning and integrated marketing campaigns that focus on driving lead generation growth. Persis received a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism. She and her future husband live with three pit bulls, a bearded dragon, and several fish.

Jack Rodenfels

Marketing Manager

Jack is a creative and strategic marketing professional who previously employed his talents as the communications coordinator for a housing nonprofit in Raleigh. With a BA in communications from Elon University, Jack is currently working towards a Certificate in Technology and Communication from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism. When not at the COOL, you can find Jack traversing the byways of NC on his bicycle or backcountry hiking.

Katie Meersman

Production Manager

Katie previously worked as an instructional designer for the Friday Center. She has managed the production of online programs for many of UNC-Chapel Hill’s academic departments and professional schools, and also has production experience in academic publishing. Katie has a BA in history from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Technical and Professional Communication from Auburn University. Katie enjoys traveling, walking her dog, and watching SEC football.

Ashley McKinney

Web Designer

For the past eight years, Ashley has designed websites for university departments, businesses and nonprofits. She has over twenty years of experience in digital storytelling and instruction. She earned her MFA in video production from UCLA and her BA in anthropology and art history from UNC-Chapel Hill. She grew up in NC, where she developed a taste for political humor and the writings of David Sedaris.

Roger Hobbs


Roger was a videographer for an international software company for five years before joining the COOL. He has been an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer, and video professional since 1999. Roger received a bachelor of science degree in communication from East Carolina University. Roger, his wife Shelley, daughters Kara and Sadie, and fur baby Brody live in Apex.

Bill Ferris

Instructional Designer

Bill previously worked as an instructional designer at the Friday Center for five years. He has spent the last decade working in education at UNC-Chapel Hill, during which time has developed numerous online courses and programs. He holds an MEd in instructional systems technology from UNC Charlotte. Bill grew up in Nebraska in a motel owned by his parents, where he learned important lessons about hard work, customer service, and the ideal pH level for a swimming pool.

Heather Hans

Instructional Designer

Heather has nine years of experience as a writer and editor and five years of experience in content management, web design, and instruction. She previously worked as an instructional design and assessment librarian at Guilford College. Heather earned her Master’s in Library and Information Studies from UNC Greensboro and her BA in Studio Art from Wake Forest University. She collects hobbies, which currently include gardening, cooking, and martial arts.

Terrence Martin

Instructional Designer

Terrence received a BA in Social Work from NC A&T State University and an a MS in Library Science from North Carolina Central University. He has over seven years of experience in instructional design and working directly with faculty to improve online learning. Terrence was most recently an instructional designer at Winston-Salem State University. When he’s not designing online courses, Terrence spends his time building and racing drones.

Jessa Bliss

Graphic Designer

Jessa was previously an instructional designer and the eLearning Manager for the Friday Center. With over ten years of experience in graphic design, she has worked in higher education, for national publications, and with independent clients. She has a BA in journalism and mass communication, with a concentration in visual communication and graphic design, from UNC-Chapel Hill. Jessa is an avid runner and enjoys spending time with her husband, her sons, and her grumpy cat, Moose.