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GE’s ex-CEO Jack Welch joins stampede to online education


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – While some critics continue to denigrate online universities, students, particularly those with families and fulltime jobs, continue to enroll in record numbers. Now well known former General Electric Co. chief executive Jack Welch has endorsed online education by lending his name and investing his money in Cleveland based Chancellor University. The university is naming its MBA program the Jack Welch Management Institute.

Jack Welch’s participation in Chancellor University is an endorsement of the entire online segment of higher education says Don Kassner, president of wholly online Andrew Jackson University . “Mr. Welch is a highly regarded and very experienced businessman and I wouldn’t think he would lend his name to a venture lacking in credibility or quality,” stated Kassner. “His participation in for-profit higher education, especially the online sector, is welcome news to online institutions like Andrew Jackson University,” Kassner continued.

According to EduVentures, an industry research organization, online higher education is expected to generate $11.5 billion in revenue this year. Ten years ago only 1% of college students took most of their courses online, but that figure rose to 11% in 2008 despite concerns about academic quality voiced by some traditionalists. When pressed to explain their negativism, the doubters point to the open admissions policy of most online institutions. Asked whether this point was valid, Andrew Jackson University’s Kassner responded that it was the role of his university, and others like it, to bring high quality education to as many serious students as possible, not to send them away in order to preserve an elitist aura.

Research compiled by University Consultants LLC, a Boca Raton based advisory firm, indicates that working adults, regardless of their previous performance in college, make better online students than the typical 18-21 year old traditional college student. “The reason they make better students,” says University Consultants’ founder Joseph Schmoke, “is that these working adults are attending college to improve their chances for advancement, higher pay and job security. They are not in college for the social aspects. They are very serious about gaining specific knowledge and earning a degree or advanced degree. So why penalize these individuals by telling them their high school or previous college grades from ten or fifteen years ago aren’t good enough to qualify them for admission?”

Andrew Jackson University’s Kassner agreed with Schmoke and further stated, “Our university serves the working adult who wants rigorous coursework, relevant input from faculty with real world experience, at the lowest costs possible. We know our students are serious. We are too, and we don’t discriminate because someone had less than stellar grades a decade or so ago.”


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