November 19, 2015
I am pleased and privileged to be joining the editorial team for "Higher Ed Beta."
This blog has been an important place for some of the most innovative thinkers in higher education to beta test their ideas about what's coming around the second or third bends down the road.
I think we likely all alpha test our ideas about higher ed and its current opportunities and challenges on our colleagues in their offices, over morning coffee at student centers, over adult beverages at departmental get-togethers, with our bored but generally indulgent spouses, etc.
This blog is where many people have come to take those ideas to the broader academic community, who can read and sometimes respond.
This blog has been a safe but exciting place where the sometimes harshly drawn dividing lines in the higher ed world begin to soften. Early in my career, I was asked by my university’s president to serve as his special assistant.
As a scholar who had only dabbled in administration to that point as a starving grad student, I was intrigued by how the management of these places worked.
So, like the ingénue I likely was, I agreed to take on this additional role.
Nearly every professorial colleague who found out about this told me that I had made a mistake. They talked about not being able to “play for both teams.” As I have written in this space before, I am not one to believe in simplistic dichotomies.
The truth usually lies somewhere between the black and white choices that are falsely presented as the only possible options.
In addition to starting out as a tenure-track professor, I then spent the rest of my career noting and then blithely crossing those supposed lines that divide us as members of the higher ed ecosystem.
As the wave of disruption came at us, I could have stayed put in my Ivory Tower (Harvard) and speculated about the size and nature of the waves crashing against the tower’s base. But, like paper lions have done in the past, I chose to go beyond speculation and get my hands dirty.
From my post as a senior administrator and faculty member at a top professional school (Harvard Law School), I left to be vice president at one of the leading and the most beautifully disruptive MOOC providers (edX), a senior vice president at a premier online program management provider (Academic Partnerships), and ended up running a nascent online/blended/teaching and learning shop at one of America’s most distinctive institutions of higher learning (Yeshiva University).
I believe that my perspective from having climbed other towers now allows me to see our own tower with more clarity.
I invite you to get your hands dirty and climb with me and with my colleagues, Michael and Steven.
Akiba J. Covitz is Executive Director of YU Global: Yeshiva University Online. He previously served as associate dean for faculty development at Harvard Law School, vice president for university partnerships at edX, and senior vice president for strategic relationships at Academic Partnerships.
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