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Halls of ivy meet reality, challenges
Rick Hurley and Steve Greenlaw's op-ed column on the future of college education in America.

 UMW is well regarded for its stellar educational offerings and its beautiful campus.
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Date published: 10/14/2012

Many people wonder what will happen to traditional place-based institutions like the University of Mary Washington, given the growing interest in technology-delivered courses. On the surface, courses delivered electronically anywhere in the world seem like the answer to concerns about efficiency and cost. While certain benefits will be gained, costs associated with the development and delivery of electronic courses will be a continual issue. Of course, other challenges arise that accompany distance learning, such as student authentication (e.g., is Mary Jane really taking the test?).

Generations of students have attended place-based colleges, and, while we realize the need to keep costs down for college to remain affordable, I can't imagine any significant change in the demand for the type of experience UMW provides its students for along time to come. Small colleges such as UMW will be at an advantage over time because students will continue to seek the close interaction found at our type of institution. Having said this, however, UMW cannot sit on the sidelines. Our university already is hard at work addressing these issues--in ways unique to UMW. Professor Steve Greenlaw is one of several faculty and staff working on these initiatives.

--UMW President Richard V. Hurley

THE DIGITAL technology revolution has affected nearly every aspect of life. Think of cellphones, automobiles, airline reservations, movie streaming, and more. Despite these revolutionary advancements, higher education has remained virtually unscathed. At most universities, classes are taught and students learn much the same way they did 50 years ago. This age-old practice is changing.

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Richard V. Hurley is president of the University of Mary Washington. Steven A. Greenlaw is professor of economics at the University of Mary Washington.