College to consider distance learning

by Ryan Kim | 12/1/09 11:00pm

Correction appended

Dartmouth may consider offering distance learning opportunities through the Tuck School of Business, potentially including executive education or MBA programs, to raise additional revenue in light of the current budget gap, College President Jim Yong Kim explained in a meeting with The Dartmouth Editorial Board on Tuesday, after Kim first mentioned the possibility of such initiatives at a dinner discussion on Monday. The program could include a collaboration between Tuck and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

"Practically every hospital executive in the country" wants to learn from TDI about health care delivery, Kim said.

Kim suggested that in one potential model for an executive MBA program, students would take most of their courses online and then come to Dartmouth for a few weeks of intense instruction. The proposed change to the academic calendar to end Fall term before Thanksgiving, if approved, would create a "dark period" that could provide just such an opportunity, he said.

"I think there is a great opportunity to bring Tuck and TDI together to offer fantastic executive education and distance learning courses in health care delivery that looks at strategy, leadership, management, all the things they do so well," Kim told the Editorial Board.

Kim stressed that any distance learning program would not decrease the quality or value of a Tuck education.

"The standard is that can we give more people access to a Dartmouth education through executive education online without altering it in any way," Kim said.

He said that Dartmouth would likely have considered offering distance learning programs in the future regardless of the economic situation, but that the "urgency of the budget" has prompted the College to examine the possibilities now.

"I've been through executive programs myself," Kim said. "They can be extremely good experiences for people who are well into their careers, so it's just a matter of organizing ourselves so we can take advantage of the demand we think already exists."

Kim said that he did not know how much revenue such a program could generate, but that similar programs at other universities have been very successful.

"Harvard makes money hand over fist doing this," Kim said. "The Harvard Business School Executive Education programs are just a machine. It's unbelievable how lucrative they are."

The University of Washington has a program that offers continuing education online. Last year, UW Extension School generated a profit of $23.3 million, according to Allison Koop, Washington's director of media relations.

Enrollment in the extension school increased last year, Koop said, explaining that interest in the program generally rises during times of financial difficulty.

"We helped the university continue to offer programs that it would otherwise be unable to be support, especially during a time of financial crisis," Koop said.

**The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Harvard Business School Executive Education had 14,000 students enrolled for the 2008-2009 year. In fact, that number refers to the number of students enrolled in the Harvard Extension School.*