Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, Yale to Invest $12 Million in Distance Learning Venture -- Herbert Allison to Head Effort

Oxford, Princeton, Stanford and Yale universities announced today that they would each provide $3 million to launch their “distance learning” venture to provide on-line courses in the arts and sciences to their combined 500,000 alumni.

Herbert M. Allison Jr., former president of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., will serve as president and chief executive officer of the non-profit University Alliance for Life-Long Learning.

The Alliance will offer non-credit courses to the alumni, taking advantage of emerging technologies to give the graduates convenient access to their schools’ extraordinary resources.

The four universities recognize the potential appeal of the Alliance’s educational opportunities to other audiences seeking ongoing personal enrichment, and they plan in the future to make their offerings available to a wider public.

The Alliance will provide on-line courses and interactive seminars; multi-media programs; topical Web sites that include links to research information; live and taped coverage of campus speakers, exhibitions, and other events; lectures on tape; and other offerings.

The member universities and their faculties will control the content of the courses and other educational products offered, ensuring that they meet the highest standards.

“The Alliance among four of the world’s greatest universities has an inspiring mission,” Allison said. “Initially, it will provide the schools’ alumni around the world with ongoing access to the best in higher education, enriching their lives and helping them make the fullest contribution to their communities. I am honored to be leading this exciting and promising venture.”

Today’s announcement comes at a time when the accelerating advance of knowledge is increasing the need for people all over the world to have access to life-long learning. The spread of democracy and of market-based economies is expanding the number of people who want and would benefit from access to the finest teaching and information resources.

Yale President Richard C. Levin will chair the Alliance’s Board of Directors, which will include leaders of the four member universities and the business community. Each university named two representatives to the board.

Through the Alliance, the member universities will explore the exciting possibilities that the Internet and other technologies offer for teaching and learning. Where appropriate, innovations developed by the Alliance may be incorporated in the schools’ core campus programs.

The Alliance will work with the four member universities to solicit and respond to faculty proposals for programs and projects that the alumni would find rewarding, and license and distribute them on the schools’ behalf. Rather than develop its own production facilities, the Alliance will sub-contract such needs to the individual universities and to outside corporations.

The Alliance will provide new opportunities for faculty members to incorporate technology and collaborate with their peers. Each university will develop the terms and conditions of its own faculty’s involvement in the Alliance.

The Alliance expects to begin making courses and other services available in the latter part of 2001.

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