Quote of the Day

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Second Thought... Monticello, Cedar City Campuses to be Scaled Back

Five months after breaking ground on a 400-acre Monticello Utah campus, DeMille has announced that the campus, if it is ever built, will be dramatically scaled back. Operations at the Cedar City campus will be downsized as well.

According to DeMille, GW enrollment is half what it was one year ago. The on-campus program is losing money, while the distance and extension programs are profitable, as is the Monticello development project.

(I'm not sure how a development project can be profitable, unless profit means donations minus expenses. If that's the case, it appears the GW foundation has been taking in handsome donations for the Monticello campus.)

GW has already made cuts and laid off personnel. The school has no endowment (it looks like no headway has been made on the billion dollar endowment goal). DeMille is kicking himself for not seeing this coming, since he knows all about The Fourth Turning.

According to DeMille, in lieu of previous expansion plans announced by Brooks:
Our plan is to keep the Cedar City on-campus component for students who want an on-site experience for any or all of their college years, and to build a small but excellent campus in Monticello that will grow beyond this recession and provide leadership education far into the future. As we grow this, we plan to supplement the online courses with classes and seminars in metropolitan centers like the University of Phoenix has done.

You can read DeMille's entire letter here.

One other thing to point out. In his message, DeMille says
Personally, I have been skeptical of distance programs and a strong believer that campus learning is much better than distance.

Please read up on DeMille's own education in the Wikipedia article linked at left (and here), because by all accounts, his Coral Ridge Baptist University education was entirely distance learning! (See "The First Fifteen Years" by Shanon Brooks; look on p. 9, ¶ 3.)

Not only was CRBU distance learning, but his diploma mill J.D. was (supposedly) obtained the same way. In fact, the only on-campus education I can find in DeMille's history is the time he spent at BYU. But according to Brooks, "as good as the BYU studies had been, the Coral Ridge learning was truly great, much more challenging than anything [DeMille] had ever done or seen." (Brooks, p. 8, ¶ 3)

That's why I find so rich his statement that campus learning is "much better" than distance learning, and that until just recently he has been skeptical of distance programs. There are many other things to point out in his statement, but I thought I'd grab this low-hanging fruit.


J.L.L said...

You know, I clicked on the link to read the letter to see exactly what he wrote, and I was not surprised to see that he starts off with an explanation of the "tuition bubble" that is creating financial hardships for many schools:

"The tuition bubble has hit across America."
"The tuition bubble is occurring because the economic crisis, layoffs, unemployment and the recession have drastically impacted students’ ability to pay tuition."
"Colleges and universities hit hardest have been those with traditional on-campus programs."
"Most institutions of higher learning are scrambling to deal with this situation..."
"If the recession is short, reports say, most schools expect to bounce back by raising tuition now and during a future economic recovery."
"The recession has impacted enrollment at George Wythe University as well. Our enrollment is half what it was one year ago. We have spoken with nearly every student who hasn’t returned, and over 95% of them cite economic issues as the reason."

It's a massive excuse in my opinion. "See, it's not our fault" is the message. I know he said they contacted non-returning students and nearly all of them said finances were keeping from them from coming back. However I don't think that's the root cause. I think it more likely to be: "You know pretending to be a leader was fun and all, but I need to be all to provide for my family" and "yeah, I'm not going to be able to come back because, well, uh, I can't afford it. Yeah that's it." I would be willing to guess many of them found the program lacking and are just politely getting out of the question by claiming finances as the reason.

Trade school enrollment is way up. I know this from first hand experience. I know several people that have told me they may go back to school because they can't find employment. So although maybe (maybe) there is a tuition bubble bursting, the demand for schooling is going up I think, but only for schooling that will yield gainful employment.

And if the "tuition bubble" is deflated, that should mean education costs will come down, enabling more student to attend. This is not like the housing bubble where people owned the asset that is depreciating. any students out there own a piece of a college? I doubt it. So great, deflate away. Makes it better for all the students. No, what we are seeing in a deflation in demand for some schools. Just like when business go bankrupt because the demand for their goods drops, so go the colleges when they don't provide what students want.

Sorry that's as far as I got in the letter. I can only take these things in chunks. I read the rest later.

The Real George Wythe said...

That's a good point, J.L.L. I don't know why I didn't make that connection too, because just yesterday I was reading how the Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix) is experiencing record revenue and did nearly $1 billion last quarter alone (a record for them). You're right, people do seem to be flocking back to school, a phenomenon that runs counter to DeMille's explanation.

J.L.L said...

Ok, I finished the rest of the letter. That is really long. The gist is that they are going to focus on real-time distance learning over the internet. Ok. That's fine. Lots of people have tried that and have some success. I doubt that that is "the answer" to the survival of GWC or even of spreading their ideas.

It all boils down to content. No one really cares about how fancy your graphics are on your website, or how slick your presenter is on your news show, or how fancy your presentation is at a conference. People want content that is worthwhile to them. Other things can be a factor, but none as much as content. You might be able to hype it up and get people to come the first time, but they are only going to come back if there is good content.

If GWC isn't able to generate interest (or revenue) from this effort, then their options are pretty limited.

I know. They should offer a nursing program, hair stylist, and auto mechanic course from qualified instructors...with some courses on leadership on the side. I'll bet then their attendance would increase.

Anonymous said...

If I have to read how the GW curriculum is just like the "Ivy League curriculum" one more time I'm going to eat my copies of Cervantes and Euclid.

What you have here is the world's most expensive book club finally admitting that people don't want to pay for their product because it doesn't put food on the table.

If they think that they can compete better in the online world they are continuing to fool themselves. Sure, they will have some people enroll just like they do now, but they will run into the same problem: when people need a real education that lets them make real money, eat real food, and provide for their real family needs then they are going to flock to a real school.

It won't take them long to learn that the online educational world is even more vicious and fickle than the brick-and-mortar educational world. Many real educational institutions think that once they start offering a strong online program then they will see huge enrollment increases. T'aint so.

Anonymous said...

If they can't sustain a college campus in a moderate sized college town in a part of Utah that has huge growth, how do they expect to create a sustainable campus in Monticello? Monticello has so much against it that I don't think that even a small campus can sustain itself.

An GW student told me that there are between 20 and 250 (that's fuzzy math!) students there. Their lies about accreditation may have worked for a short time, but it is totally backfiring now.

Homeschool parents are smarter than DeMille thinks. He may think that they will go through the entire TJEd thing, send their kids to George Wythe College, and they will end up being leaders. Well, a non-accredited education doesn't work for anyone. That is why the accreditation board needs to hear our voices.