So how do you convince an American business legend that online education’s not so bad? In the case of former GE CEO Jack Welch, you name a degree after him. The Wall Street Journal reported that Welch is “paying more than $2 million for a 12 percent stake in Chancellor University System LLC, which is converting a formerly bankrupt university into an online entity—and naming its Business Administration Program the “Jack Welch Institute.”
This didn’t happen overnight. Welch, a former skeptic of online programs, had to be convinced that this one would be a high quality product, worthy of his name.
The Chancellor project is the brain child of entrepreneur Michael Clifford, a veteran venture capitalist who’s already launched two education companies. The idea is that Welch’s name would add some cachet to the online project that would attract more people to sign on.
Welch and his wife Suzy are active participants in planning the new entity. An undergraduate degree will run about $40,000 and the MBA will cost about $21,600.
Online education programs are booming these days. They “will generate $11.5 billion in revenue this year.”
But getting Jack’s okay required some relationship building. When Clifford first met Welch a few years ago, they practically got into a screaming match over online education. Clifford was pro, Welch against. It took schools like the University of Phoenix to finally reverse Jack’s low opinion of online programs.
This is hardly the first foray into education for the retired CEO. A bestselling author of several books, Welch has taught at the Sloan School of Management in Massachusetts, in addition to donating and lending his name to the John H. Welch College of Business at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.