On-line education plans in the works
This June, the University of Chicago signed an agreement with UNext.com,
a privately held Internet education company based in Deerfield,
IL, to develop on-line business courses, with the Graduate School
of Business as the point of contact. Columbia University, Stanford
University, and the London School of Economics have also signed
agreements with UNext.com, which is headed by University of Chicago
Trustee Andrew Rosenfield, JD78.
With the help of these great universities, UNext.com will
create and deliver a new opportunity in higher education that has
never been possible before: a world-class business education accessible
to people all over the world, says Rosenfield, UNext.coms
founder, chair, and CEO.
The company will offer the courses through what its Web site (www.unext.com)
describes as an on-line business education community called
Cardean. Cardean will offer its first course, in finance,
this fall. Initially available only to corporations, courses will
later be open to individual students and will cover topics such
as accounting, marketing, organizational development, and international
business. Eventually UNext.com plans to seek accreditation for an
M.B.A. degree through Cardean. Such a degree would not be from the
U of C or GSB.
The Internet provides an extraordinary opportunity to expand
our educational outreach to a much larger constituency, says
Provost Geoffrey Stone, JD71. That takes an equally
extraordinary capital investment to develop the technology to make
this possible. What makes UNext.com interesting is that it proposes
a consortium of world-class universities, enabling each of them
to participate in a comprehensive, on-line educational program without
having to take the financial risk of making such large investments.
UNext.coms academic advisory board includes John P. Gould,
MBA63, PhD66, the Steven G. Rothmeier professor and
distinguished service professor of economics; Nobel laureate Merton
H. Miller, the Robert R. McCormick distinguished service professor
emeritus of finance; and Nobelist Gary Becker, AM53, PhD55,
University professor of economics and sociology. GSB Dean Robert
Hamada serves on the companys academic council, which coordinates
the curriculum and sets academic policies.
The GSB faculty endorsed the UNext.com proposal after reviewing
and rejecting several alternatives from other organizations. (Faculty
members on UNext.coms advisory board were not allowed to participate
in any decisions about the agreement. Similarly, Rosenfield recused
himself from Board of Trustees deliberations on the matter; a Board
of Trustees subcommittee continues to monitor the project.) The
provost and physicist Melvyn Shochet, the spokesperson for the Committee
of the Council of the University Senate, then appointed a five-person
faculty committee to review the proposal. The committee unanimously
concluded it is appropriate and advisable for the University
and the GSB to enter into the venture. President Hugo Sonnenschein
gave final approval.
The University has the right to use any new technology developed
through the alliance and would share in any eventual royalties.
UNext.com also will pay the University for the services of the faculty
members helping to develop courses. While GSB faculty members do
not have to participate, the University will consider participation
part of their teaching duties. If UNext.com courses are judged not
to meet the Universitys standards, the University will terminate
the agreement, Stone assures.
The University of Chicago has a long and distinguished history
in the field of continuing education, says Stone, and
if this is the future of such programs, we want to be involved.K.S.