Higher education is in crisis, and leaders like Teresa Sullivan, the recently dismissed University of Virginia president, bear a heavy burden of responsibility for not effectively leading.
Simply put, high-quality universities have become too expensive and increasingly inaccessible because their presidents and other top leaders have failed to recognize and address the challenges and opportunities posed to their institutions by new technologies.
The Internet, computers and collaborative software now offer universities transformative opportunities to leverage resources, reduce costs and potentially reach millions more students by combining less-expensive, on-line individual and group instruction with residential experiences that last less than the traditional four years.
Some elite institutions like Harvard, MIT and Stanford have experimented with online instruction but have not articulated their plans for potentially unconventional degree tracks. No doubt conflicted—how can they sustain their elite status if they become widely accessible—they behave as monopolists in direct conflict with the public interests.