MIT Dean Takes Leave to Start New University Without Lectures or Classrooms
MIT – By Jeffrey R. Young February 01, 2016
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MIT – Christine Ortiz is the dean for graduate education and a professor of materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a conversation with The Chronicle, she discusses her ideas about building a new type of college from scratch.
Christine Ortiz is taking a leave from her prestigious post as a professor and dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to start a radical, new nonprofit university that she says will have no majors, no lectures, and no classrooms.
Many details about the new university are still undetermined, she says, but the basic idea is to answer the question, What if you could start a university from scratch for today’s needs and with today’s technology?
Her venture is not the only effort to create a new kind of college — there’s the Minerva Project, created by a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco, and MOOC providers like Udacity, started by a former Stanford University professor.
But those are for-profit businesses. Ms. Ortiz says she plans to create a nonprofit institution so that “all of the revenue can be reinvested in the enterprise to serve the public.”
The plan is to begin with a campus in the Boston area that she hopes will grow to about 10,000 students and 1,000 faculty members — about the size of MIT. And her long-term plan is to add more campuses in other cities as well.
That will take serious financial backing, and she says the fund raising has not yet begun. But she says that she has had an outpouring of support for the idea and that she has assembled a team to start the project, though she said she was not yet ready to say who was on it.
The Chronicle talked with Ms. Ortiz about what the new university might look like. The following transcript of that conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q. What made you decide to leave your post as a professor and dean at MIT to start your own university?
A. I’ve been at MIT for 17 years, and it’s been amazing. And I’ve always been interested in curriculum and thinking about the future of the research university, and I did a lot of archival research on it. And I found in my research that many of the structures were really taken from hundreds of years ago. I think we’re at a time where we can think about the future, and moving forward how to reshape it.
Q. Can you give an example of a moment at MIT or elsewhere that made you say a radical, new approach is needed?
MIT – Read the Rest of the Article, Here
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