CU taps Alpha Education to advise CU Online business model

Fall 2021 launch remains on track
By Staff

CU taps Alpha Education to advise CU Online business model

University leadership has enlisted the services of Alpha Education LLC to advise CU as it moves forward on the CU Online systemwide, centralized operations.

The move will allow the CU Online fall 2021 launch to remain on track after the Online Acceleration Committee (OAC) was put on hold when it was determined that the proposed financial model was unsustainable.

“The primary goal is to surface areas within the financial model that can be modified to make it a win-win for the campuses and system office,” said Scot Chadwick, interim associate vice president for online learning.

To that end, Alpha is reviewing the initial business plan developed by EY-Parthenon and the university’s core online principles, and will then recommend a strategy to move the initiative ahead. Per the six-week contract, the advisers are examining the institutional resources and the needs and goals around online program development and growth. They will provide recommendations for competitive and differentiated online offerings that create value for CU, and offer suggestions to assist in the implementation of all recommendations.

OAC committee co-chairs Sheana Bull, interim senior faculty fellow for online learning, and Chadwick will be helping to facilitate Alpha’s discussions and working with the campuses, financial working group, system office and Office of Digital Education staff to provide Alpha the materials and insights.

“The Alpha Education team has access to all of the work done to date on the initiative, which allows them to be highly efficient and additive to the great work already done to date,” Chadwick said. “They’re also coordinating with EY-Parthenon on modifications to the financial model EY-P built with the inputs from across the university.”

The contract, signed on Aug. 12, will continue through late-September. Chadwick said that Alpha will provide a final report at the conclusion of the engagement.

The move came after the president and chancellors agreed to bring in external advisers who are familiar with financing online efforts. The OAC had initially intended to make its structure recommendations in October.

“This initiative has been rapidly evolving, and it is important to have a fresh set of eyes to ensure we’re aligned,” said CU President Mark Kennedy. “I appreciate the chancellors’ and the online team’s commitment to working together with Alpha Education to find the right path forward.”

A team of faculty, staff and administrators worked with vendor EY-Parthenon throughout the 2019-20 academic year to look at CU’s current offerings and compare against market demand and opportunity. It found that market demand is significant and diverse (by discipline, degree level and cost), and that CU’s offerings align at points with that demand. Yet it also found that despite “pockets of excellence,” on the whole, CU lags national market leaders in market-aligned program offerings and capabilities.

In parallel to this engagement with Alpha Education and the Online Accelerator Committee work, the fall/spring online marketing and recruiting campaign across the four campuses (as highlighted in previous communications), will continue without interruption. Find out more here.