ALFRED, N.Y., April 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Alfred University President Mark Zupan believes in the value of higher education at traditional non-profit colleges and universities across the country.
He's such a believer that he's betting $1 million of his own money on their future.
"Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, an expert on disruptive innovation, predicted online learning would drive at least half of America's traditional universities out of business over the next decade," Zupan said.
Zupan's bet: If half of the traditional colleges and universities close or merge within the next 10 years, he will give $1 million to Christensen's Institute at Harvard. But, if traditional colleges and universities persevere, he challenges Christensen to donate $1 million to Alfred University.
Christensen has not yet responded.
Zupan, an economist trained at Harvard University and MIT, says the facts are on his side.
He says, "Only a handful of non-profit universities merge or go bankrupt each year, and that number has not grown substantially with the advent of online learning. Similar forecasts were made with the advent of radio and television and the ability of technologies to deliver education more broadly and cost-effectively. Instead, the innovations proved to complement learning at universities, not replace them."
"That is because nothing can replace the effectiveness of one-on-one interaction, the hallmark of traditional universities and colleges," he says. "Technology enhances, not replaces, personal relationships that come from teaching, mentoring, and coaching.
"Korn Ferry estimates the value of human capital in the United States to be $244 trillion, nearly four times larger than the $62 trillion in value of physical assets," Zupan notes. "Investment in education builds human capital. Indeed, the Latin origin of the word 'capital' refers to the ideas that spring out of individuals' heads as being the wellspring of progress ? not bricks and mortar or financial instruments."
A considerable amount of smart money is betting on higher education, he notes. "Of the 50 largest philanthropic gifts in the United States in 2018, at least 30 went to universities. It's not just the Ivies that are benefiting. We are seeing the same uptick in investment in education at Alfred University." Zupan says.
There are challenges from changes in demographic factors, online learning options, the popularity of various majors, state funding for public institutions, and international enrollments create a dynamic marketplace. "Nonetheless, we see more opportunities than threats," he says.
SOURCE Alfred University
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