The Most Innovative College in America?

http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2006/10/09/green

It’s that time again — the fall season marks the ramp-up for the college admissions game. Across the country, eager high school seniors and their parents are rushing to newsstands and bookstores to buy college guides.

But wait … this year there is another contender in the marketplace for information about what’s happening in American colleges and universities, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education’s just-released report, “A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education.” The commission’s members included past and present college presidents, corporate executives, and representatives of various higher education associations. The report from the commission, the first federal panel on quality and related higher education issues in more than two decades, is based on a yearlong study of American higher education.

So do you know which U.S. college or university was cited for “innovation in curriculum development and program delivery” in the commission’s report? The winner is Neumont University, in Salt Lake City. The final version of the Spellings commission report, released September 19, states that “Salt Lake City-based Neumont University is educating the most sought-after software developers in the world” (p. 25).

Another commission member, James J. Duderstadt, an engineer by training and president emeritus of the University of Michigan, notes in an e-mail that several innovative projects — MIT’s Open Courseware initiative, the Sakai Open Source Learning Management Project, and the Google Book Project, among others —were cited in earlier drafts of the commission’s report, “but I had these deleted because I felt it was inappropriate since [some individual] commissioners were involved with each [of these projects].”

(For the record, Duderstadt wordsmithed some “after the final vote” language to mollify another commission member, Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector division, who “vigorously” objected to the language in the third draft supporting open-source software and open-content projects in higher education.)

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