Further Thoughts on CEO Chip Paucek's Departure From 2U

Despite the goose turning albatross, pay more attention to the debt ball and chain

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Talk about great timing - 2U and CEO Chip Paucek announced an agreement on Friday that he would step down as CEO and resign from the board, picking the best day since 1985 to avoid too much of the news spotlight for a CEO change.

Some of the coverage, including from USA Today, linked the CEO change with 2U’s recent news that it was jointly ending its partnership for most programs with USC. While the USC story is important, in my opinion it is secondary in terms of why 2U is making such a big management change. From the USA Today article:

Phil Hill, a writer who tracks the ed tech industry, said 2U and USC partnerships laid the way for other elite universities to start offering their classes online. Prior to their partnership, digital courses were more closely associated with for-profit universities and smaller, regional public schools.  

Hill said he believed 2U might have had equal reason to distance itself from USC.  In addition to the legal challenges, 2U has said it's trying to work with schools to lower tuition. 

“That argument falls flat when you say, ‘Wait, your most profitable program and the core partner you’ve had charges $100,000-plus for a master’s of social work,” Hill said. “It ruined 2U’s story. And USC clearly needed to try to make a change, so I truly believe it was mutual.” 

In addition to reading the entire article at USA Today, you can also find coverage from HigherEd Dive. I’d like to summarize several points I’ve made in online conversations when asked about this change.

USC’s Changing Role

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